How many times have you heard that you need a “strong foundation” to build a house or a relationship or your best posture? You likely hear it ad nauseum because it is true in many cases. It also applies to the anti-inflammatory lifestyle. The cornerstone of combating inflammation is nutrition and the anti-inflammatory food pyramid that goes along with it. On this revised food pyramid, the first step is consuming a minimum of four to five cups of vegetables per day. Kale, spinach, asparagus, cabbage, carrots and others offer flavonoids and carotenoids that are anti-inflammatory and full of antioxidants. Eat a wide variety of them and mix up how you prepare them for best results – sautéing, steaming, raw, or blended are all options.
Lean proteins make up the next level of the anti-inflammatory pyramid. Proteins are critical for cell and muscle repair, hormone and enzyme production, healthy hair and nails, and because protein can reduce hunger while controlling blood sugar (https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/protein/). The anti-inflammatory food pyramid recommends 6 to 8 ounces of lean protein three times per day. Choose grass-fed or grass-finished beef, omega-3 enriched eggs, skinless poultry, wild Alaskan salmon, and wild game. If you are short on time, consider using a protein shake made from hydrolyzed beef, using canned tuna or chicken, or making your own healthy protein bars or pemmican. For several pemmican recipes, check out Alderleaf Wilderness College’s recipes: http://www.wildernesscollege.com/pemmican-recipes.html.
You also do need fat in your diet. Healthy fats make up the third level of the anti-inflammatory pyramid. If you can include 5 to 7 tablespoons per day of healthy fats like coconut oil for cooking and olive or avocado oil for vegetables, you will consume plenty. Eat fats rich in either monounsaturated or omega-3 fats. Extra-virgin olive oil is rich in polyphenols with antioxidant activity and coconut oil is high in natural saturated fats. Eating almonds, avocados and walnuts can also provide healthy fats and provide satiety. Although fruits do not have to be consumed, they can provide many antioxidants and if you keep your serving at a maximum of one cup per day, your carbohydrate consumption and sugars will not be too high.
Along with fats and fruits, spices are also part of the anti-inflammatory pyramid. Turmeric and ginger have wonderful anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, turmeric can be helpful for ulcerative colitis, osteoarthritis, cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis to name a few. Ginger is often used to calm down an upset stomach, for motion sickness or even to counteract nausea from chemotherapy (http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/ginger). Herb mixes with garlic and onion can add flavor to your foods without adding extra salt.
Finally, an important part of an anti-inflammatory lifestyle is getting enough fresh water to drink. The recommendation is to consume a quarter to a half of your body weight in ounces each day. If you want variety, you can infuse your water with slices of lemon, orange or cucumber.