The Benefits and How-To’s of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
The start of a new year can be a great time to create healthier habits and invest in a healthier you! If you’re feeling sluggish, experiencing headaches, or finding digestive discomfort more common, it may be your body’s way of signaling imbalance. Many of these symptoms are a defense mechanism of the immune system—signaling that the body is experiencing too much stress. Chronic stress can lead to chronic inflammation—which, in excess, can wreak havoc on the body.
Essentially everyone can benefit from implementing anti-inflammatory foods into their diet—as environmental toxins, food sensitivities, and allergies are relatively common, and can all contribute to excessive inflammation in the body.
When starting an anti-inflammatory diet, it’s best to start with foods in their whole, natural state. Eating a diet consisting largely of high quality, whole foods can yield a number of benefits: reduced fatigue, mood stabilization, increased energy and stamina, improved digestion, increased levels of good gut bacteria, and better sleep. Long term, an anti-inflammatory diet can even help to reduce the risk of chronic disease—such as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.
Consuming anti-inflammatory foods doesn’t need to feel like a burden, nor does it need to be dull in any way! At Golden Roots Kitchen, we always keep our focus on whole foods, traditional preparations, AND bold flavors—all while aiming to reduce inflammation in your diet.
The following guidelines provide suggestions on focus foods that contain active anti-inflammatory components. We’ve also provided suggestions on foods to reduce, and how best to make replacements.
Anti-Inflammatory Focus Foods:
Omega-3 fatty acids found in wild-caught fish, grass-fed meats, pasture-raised eggs, leafy greens, and nuts/seeds
Antioxidant rich foods such cabbage, raw cacao, blueberries, pomegranate, goji berries, and leafy greens
Bromelain—an enzyme found in pineapple
Garlic and onion
WATER! Add lemon for a boost of vitamin C :)
Foods to Reduce:
Omega-6 fatty acids found in red meats, corn, dairy, and soy
Instead, balance your intake of Omega-6 with Omega-3 (fish/fish oil, flax seed, chia seed, walnuts, etc.)
Refined carbohydrates found in white bread, white rice, white potatoes, and white sugar
Replace with ancient grains such as amaranth and millet, legumes, quinoa, and buckwheat (soaked and sprouted for optimal digestion)
Nightshades such as potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers
Trans fat, hydrogenated oils, refined vegetable oils like those found in fried foods, chips, margarine, and desserts
Large quantities of refined salt
Replace with natural salt (e.g. pink himalayan salt) or by adding flavor-enhancing and anti-inflammatory ginger, garlic, and turmeric
Refined sugars and artificial sweeteners
Replace with local honey or coconut sugar in small amounts
Replace with adaptogenic herbs (herbs that help our bodies better adapt to stress) such as ashwagandha and holy basil (tulsi)
In all, a whole-foods diet—rich in a variety of vibrant foods—is key to reducing inflammation in the body and increasing overall health and well-being! Here at GRK, we’re committed to prioritizing your health in every way we can. Our weekly offerings can support your intake of anti-inflammatory foods, and help give you the boost your body may be desiring!
Wishing you wellness, always,
Dena, Mary, and Sierra
Dena Zlotziver, M.Ed., is a teacher, writer, and member of the kitchen staff at Golden Roots Kitchen.
Mary Smith has her Bachelor’s of Science in Nutrition and Food Science and serves as GRK’s in-house nutrition expert.
Sierra Vargas is GRK’s Community Outreach & Creative Project Coordinator.
Brittany Cole is a photographer based in Santa Cruz, CA; you can find her work here.