It would seem many are overwhelmed by diet and nutrition, especially when first starting out on a new meal plan or when attempting to implement a healthier lifestyle. Where do I start? What can I eat? How much? How frequently? Believe me, I know there is so much to consider, and even with a wealth of knowledge available at your fingertips via the web, it’s not so cut and dry. It can be very confusing with so many diet fads and methodologies, but in reality, it need not be!
If you really simplify things, most systemic issues begin with your gut health. What is that? Simply put, gut health relates to the nature of effective digestion and absorption of the foods and nutrients we eat and the overall health of the gastrointestinal tract. This includes the entire digestive system from the stomach, to the intestines and colon. When you maintain good gut health, you minimize metabolic disorders and a vast array of auto-immune diseases, from Multiple Sclerosis, Chrohn’s Disease, Celiac Disease, irritable bowel syndrome or IBS, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Ulcerative Colitis to name just a few. When we do not maintain positive gut health, inflammation prevails and is the body’s natural response at attacking the area of injury, disease or damage. According to Michael Snyder, PhD. and the director of Stanford’s Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine, “the area where bacteria have a huge impact is your gut.” In observation of that idea, everything starts with what we put into our mouths. The notion that food is the most underutilized source of medicine we have available is a tremendously powerful thought!
We all have different things that trigger inflammation within our bodies and getting down to the root cause is key to creating a meal plan that brings about improved health. Food allergies play a very important role when discussing inflammation, as many are eating foods we are intolerant to and may not even realize that we are ignoring our symptoms. If you are already eating a mostly anti-inflammatory diet and still have symptoms, you may consider a visit to a food specialist or allergist to dive a bit further into what is initiating your symptoms, as nothing is a replacement for a proper diagnosis by a doctor if you feel you are experiencing symptoms of inflammation.
Breaking it down to food intolerances and other possible health issues and auto-immune causes, certain things work for certain people, but diet is definitely not a “one size fits” all topic. When we make good choices or even just better choices overall, we are going to see results. That said, doing some research to educate yourself on why something works, may lead to a better understanding in the decision making process.
What are some signs of inflammation in the body?
- Lowered immune system
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Autoimmune disease
- Poor sleep
- Low energy
- Weight gain
- Poor digestion/bloated belly
- Constipation/overall irregularity
What are the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet?
- Reduction of the risk of cancer, diabetes and various auto-immune diseases
- Improved energy levels
- Improved sleep
- Improved skin
- Better digestion and GI health (regularity)
- Weight loss
- Improved mood and overall feeling of well being
What are anti-inflammatory foods? What CAN I eat?
Simply put, JERF or just eat real food, sums it up! An emphasis on plant or animal based protein sources, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grains for some people, are all acceptable. Omitting things like dairy, processed/packaged foods, grains for some and sugar is key to an anti-inflammatory diet. You may have heard of the Paleo or the Mediterranean diet, but there are many benefits of eating real, whole foods, no matter what label you want to put on it.
Herb Baked Chicken with Roasted Carrots and Fennel
4 Organic chicken breasts
2 tbsp. Rosemary
2 tbsp. Thyme
2 tbsp. Sage
1 tsp. Sea salt
1 tsp. Pepper
Fennel 3-4 cups chopped
Carrots 3-4 cups chopped
Sweet potatoes 3-4 cups chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly drizzle olive oil on your chicken. Season both sides to taste. Measurements above are estimates as I heavily seasoned all sides of chicken with spices.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and serve on a bed of roasted carrots, fennel and sweet potatoes
For roasted veggies, combine fennel and carrots, lightly drizzle with coconut oil or evoo, season to taste and roast in a 400-degree oven for 30-40 minutes.