These days it’s tough, but not impossible, to consume an anti-inflammatory diet when eating away from home. It might be just as difficult eating "in" depending on what types of ingredients fill your fridge and line your pantry.
If you're looking to reduce inflammation in your body, tweak your daily routine bit by bit with the following suggestions.
Choose those ideas that resonate with you most and keep in mind that they have a cumulative effect over time:
1) Consume fresh, whole and organic food with only a few ingredients. Pesticides, chemical processing, and man-made ingredients are often recognized as foreign antibodies by the body resulting in molecular mimicry, systemic inflammation and damaged digestion. Remove packaged, highly processed and fast food meals from your diet. If you count more than 5 ingredients, see trans fats (hydrogenated fats) which are highly inflammatory, or don’t recognize the contents - then you probably shouldn’t eat it.
2) Enjoy unpasteurized fermented foods and beverages with most meals. Look for living cultures in drinks like kombucha, kevita and Beyond Organic beverages like Terrain. Explore foods like cultured yogurt with minimal sugars, Bubbie's kraut and pickles. These living foods typically contain more bacteria than a probiotic alone, and they aid in the digestion of your food due to their enzyme rich content. If you're feeling extra ambtious, you can make your own! Reducing inflammation and dysbiosis in the gut is critical to your health, and good bacteria in plentiful amounts will aid this process.
3) Incorporate non-dairy, vegetarian alternatives even if you tolerate and choose to consume beef or dairy. Everyone can benefit from a smaller quantity of beef and dairy with a higher quality content. It's about quality over quantity here. Look for nutrient rich grass-fed organic and ancient bread options from A2 cows like those offered by Beyond Organic. Modern day breeding of A1 cows often contain a mutated beta casein that results in the amino acid BCM 7, a small protein with strong effects. A1 cows include breeds like Holstein and their milk has been linked to type 1 diabetes, heart disease, autoimmunity and even schizophrenia. If you're unable to purchase A2 products, consider goat's milk (also grass-fed) or non-dairy alternatives like coconut or almond milk.
4) Replace unstable processed vegetable oils with heat tolerant options like coconut oil and grapeseed oil - especially when cooking at medium heat or higher. Read the labels and be aware of your oil's smoke point. Many people choose to cook, bake or roast using olive oil in an attempt to promote heart health. When in reality you want to keep olive oil to 200 degrees or less to avoid oxidizing, which promotes free radicals and inflammation. Coconut oil’s saturated bonds make it able to withstand the cooking process while combating inflammation with it’s medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s). Since MCT's improve intestinal inflammation by suppressing IL-8 (Interleukin-8, pro-inflammatory) production in enterocytes they are often administered to patients with Crohn's disease (CD) or short-bowel syndrome.
5) Eliminate white sugar and flour, genetically modified crops (wheat, corn, soy, sugar beets), gluten and dairy from your diet. If you already have an autoimmune (AI) condition, experiment with removing nightshades (eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes), nuts, grains and dairy from your meals. This is often the natural progression for many AI eaters with food sensitivities and a leaky gut. If you're looking for recipes, those following the autoimmune paleo protocol could meet your needs. However, you might have to modify those guidelines. For instance I don't tolerate beef or dairy - even if it's grass-fed and from A2 cows.
6) Swap out sodas, beer and alcohol for a homemade spritzer. Use carbonated mineral water, 5 drops of stevia and fresh lemon juice (1/2 lemon squeezed) or a drop of Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade (CPTG) lemon, wild orange, or frankincense essential oil for an anti-inflammatory twist. If you want a warm beverage, add fresh squeezed lemon juice to purified water and organic loose leaf tea. Lemon supports the digestive, immune and respiratory systems. According to The University of Maryland Medical Center, "Green tea may help reduce inflammation associated with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, the two types of IBD.” Green tea is also boasted for it’s polyphenol and EGCG (a powerful antioxidant) content. If you don’t normally like the flavor, the fresh lemon and a little stevia will change your mind!
7) Incorporate anti-inflammatory herbs and spices such as holy basil (aka: tulsi), ginger and turmeric into your meals and beverages. Tulsi tea contains these and more in some great combinations for symptom management such as Tulsi Tummy (includes ginger) and Tulsi Sleep. Holy basil is said to be a rival to medical marijuana in it's ability to combat stress and inflammation. I make a large jug of tea every few days with Tulsi Cleanse and Tulsi Green, fresh lemon, and stevia to sip on throughout the day.
8) Increase your micronutrient status by consuming whole, organic foods and as many plants as you tolerate. Not only has organic food proven to be more nutrient dense in recent research, but it's also more mineral rich due to the crop rotation that occurs with organic farming. Unfortunately modern agriculture practices have veered away from crop rotation, a practice which prevents the depletion of nutrients and minerals. For this reason alone, paying organic prices is worth the extra expense. The best way to determine your intracellular micronutrient status to avoid deficiencies, symptoms and disease is to test yourself every 6-12 months (using SpectraCell's micronutrient test) and supplement accordingly.
9) Eat out less and eat in more. Many establishments use either trans fatty acids for frying or heat intolerant vegetable oils, like olive oil, in their cooking. These methods make your food pro-inflammatory and have an immediate effect on your vascular health. Unless you're having a conversation with the cook and able to tailor your meals, it's best to limit your exposure to unwanted inflammation. Aim for fresh salad and vegetable dishes while avoiding fried and high heat items.
10) Learn which undetected delayed food or chemical reactions you have that may be invoking inflammation and unwanted symptoms. IgG or delayed onset food sensitivities are an immune-mediated hypersensitivity response from a food or chemical ingested. Symptoms manifest minutes to days after ingestion, making them much harder to identify than immediate Type 1 IgE allergies. The scientific literature describes delayed food allergies effect on a variety of gastrointestinal, respiratory and cutaneous tissues. The inflammatory response is universal to all allergies resulting in the release of chemical mediators (leukotrienes, cytokines, histamines, etc.), vascular permeability, vasodilation, edema and tissue damage. For this reason, I recommend Mediator Release Testing (MRT) with my LEAP ImmunoCalm diet and elimination program to help identify and remove your triggers.
As you begin to incorporate the above suggestions, it's a really good idea to gauge your progress along the way. Do this by measuring swollen joints, monitoring your weight, checking your blood pressure, and recording your waste circumference before beginning. Take pre-pictures and be sure to include any redness, irritation or swelling to refer back to in a few months. The more details the better to help measure your progress and inspire you along the way!
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