According to Karen Lamphere, MS, CN, most diseases have an underlying etiology involving inflammation. Conditions like arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, allergies, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's and diabetes can be made worse or better depending on a person's diet. Lamphere, a nutritionist based in Edmonds, Washington, prescribes a diet of anti-inflammatory foods as a way to help her clients with inflammatory diseases heal, as well as ensure her healthy clients stay healthy.
The anti-inflammation diet is comprised of healthy, wholesome, unprocessed foods. As Lamphere and many other nutritionists have recognized when working with their clients, the phrase "you are what you eat" could not ring truer. The purpose of eating anti-inflammatory foods and removing processed foods from the diet is to calm down inflammation in the body. Research confirms two important things that make the anti-inflammatory diet so critical and so effective for so many people struggling with health issues, as well as those who hope to improve their general health.
First, unresolved inflammation has been linked to the early development of chronic disease. And second, eating the right foods (namely, anti-inflammatory foods) can help to fight this disease-causing inflammation in the body.
That's where the anti-inflammatory diet comes in, built on basic principles like:
The standard American diet is a culprit in inflammatory conditions.
Lamphere recommends the anti-inflammatory diet for people with inflammatory conditions as well as healthy people who are looking for a healthy diet. When starting out, Lamphere emphasizes that it is important to reduce your unhealthy fat intake by eliminating oils high in omega-6 while increasing your intake of healthy fats, including more extra-virgin olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids.
Dr. Joe Feuerstein, associate professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University and director of integrative medicine at Stamford Hospital, takes it one step further — he says the easiest way to approach the anti-inflammatory diet is by focusing on what you can have instead of what you can't. In his nutritional work with his patients, where he often incorporates an anti-inflammatory diet, Dr. Feuerstein says that it's as easy as using a simple food pyramid.
Here's his approach, from the bottom of the pyramid to the top:
Speaking of what you can have, the anti-inflammatory diet is not as hard to follow as it seems — not all of life's "goodies" are off the table. As Dr. Feuerstein reminds us, those yummy foods at the top of the pyramid, like dark chocolate and red wine, can still be enjoyed in small amounts. This kind of moderate approach, with a treat that awaits you at the end of the night, makes it easier to follow any diet.More: Wine makes you attractive and 10 other reasons to pour yourself another glass
Updated by Bethany Ramos on 1/20/2016
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