What is the anti-inflammation diet, and why should you try it?

 

A diet heavy on fruits and vegetables — plus oily fish, whole grains and herbs and spices — can ward off disease. But you already knew that, right? Credit: Metro file
A diet heavy on fruits and vegetables — plus oily fish, whole grains and herbs and spices — can ward off disease. But you already knew that, right?
Credit: Metro file

Why try the anti-inflammation diet? Because not only does it pay off big — helping you maintain a health weight and prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers — it’s as easy as the pie you’re still allowed to eat while following it.

Many processed foods, such as white bread and rice, are harder for the body to digest than whole foods, so they trigger an inflammatory response.

“When the body needs to get rid ingredients that are difficult to digest, its cells are being overworked,” says Marjorie Nolan Cohn, MS, RD, CDN, ACSM-HFS, author of “Belly Fat Fix” and national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “On a cellular level, we’re giving off byproducts that aren’t natural, so the body has to work harder to figure out what to do with them.”

This can restrict oxygen and blood flow, Nolan Cohn says. Over time, that can lead to chronic inflammation, which is associated with the development of hypertension, diabetes and other serious health problems.

“We’re not sure exactly why, but we do know that being in an inflammatory state is unhealthy,” says Joan Salge Blake, MS, RDN, LDN, clinical associate professor at Boston University and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson. “Eating foods that reduce the inflammatory response in the body and get your weight under control help keep blood pressure and blood glucose in check, cutting your risk of disease.”

Experts say that instead of maxing out on the trendy “superfoods” of the moment, the easiest way to eat to beat inflammation is to keep meals colorful and varied.

“A person’s overall diet is really the key to optimizing health and slashing disease risk,” explains Cynthia Sass, R.D., M.P.H., author of “S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.” “While there are some foods that have phenomenal research behind them in terms of health benefits, variety is key, because vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals vary from food to food. So eating a wide range of veggies, fruits, whole grains, nuts, beans, lentils, herbs and spices provides a broad spectrum of protection you won’t benefit from if you eat the same few superfoods over and over.”

The anti-inflammation diet is similar to U.S. Department of Agriculture recommendations and the oft-recommended Mediterranean and “heart-healthy” ways of eating: In addition to a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, eat whole grains, lean protein, beans and legumes, fatty fish such as salmon, olive oil and herbs and spices such as turmeric, garlic and ginger, which research suggests have anti-cancer properties. Green tea is also thought to contain cancer-fighting phytochemicals.

“The omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA in oily fish produce a specific type of prostaglandin, a hormone-like substance that has been shown to reduce inflammation,” Sass says. “And whole grains have a high fiber content. This roughage helps clear out your system, and that in and of itself helps rid our body of any inflammatory metabolites or leftovers.”

As for those vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables – such as dark leafy greens, bell peppers, blueberries and tomatoes – make sure you don’t cook away their anti-inflammatory benefits.

“A good rule of thumb for cooking vegetables is that you want to expose them to the least amount of heat and water for the shortest amount of time you can,” says Salge Blake, who recommends microwaving them in a little water or steaming until they’re crisp-tender to keep their vitamins and minerals intact.

And of course, there are some “Don’ts” for the anti-inflammatory diet, too: Try to reduce your consumption of fatty animal products, such as meat and dairy, Nolan Chon says.

But remember, “everything doesn’t have to be perfect,” Salge Blake says. “If the bulk of your diet is healthy and you’re at a healthy weight, of course you can have a dessert now and then. There’s room for little extras in small amounts.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Sen. Krueger dishes on prospect of legal marijuana…

New Yorkers may see the legalization of recreational marijuana use as early as 2015 if State Senator Liz Krueger (D) gets her way. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act will…

Local

60 artists to fill shipping containers with work…

Starting Thursday, 63 industrial shipping containers will fill Brooklyn Bridge Park at Pier 5 for Photoville 2014. The free exhibition was founded three and a…

Local

New York City agencies to provide healthcare, legal…

Child migrants who have recently arrived in New York City and are going through deportation hearings will now have access to services from multiple agencies,…

International

Hurricane Odile batters Mexico's Baja resorts, sparks looting

Hurricane Odile injured dozens of people, forced the evacuation of thousands and smashed shops open to looters in the popular tourist area of Baja, Mexico.

Television

'Outlander' recap: Season 1, Episode 6: 'The Garrison…

Whipping, punching, kicking and a marriage contract. "Outlander" is not for the faint of heart this week with "The Garrison Commander."

The Word

The Word: Hey girl, it's a girl for…

It's a girl for Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, who reportedly welcomed a daughter last Friday, according to Us Weekly. The super-private couple managed to…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 16: 'New Girl,'…

Check out the season premiere of "New Girl," as Jess competes with Jessica Biel for a guy's attentions.

Movies

Newsflash: Corey Stoll still not a man

In director Shaun Levy's "This Is Where I Leave You," Corey Stoll stars as the oldest of four adult children (the others are played by…

College

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

NFL

3 things we learned in Jets loss to…

The wheels came off for the Jets, who gave up 21 unanswered points after a brilliant first 20 minutes in a 31-24 loss at the Packers.

Style

Rachel Zoe: New York Fashion Week Spring 15

Rachel Zoe goes 'Glam bohemia' for Spring.

Food

Where to find SweeTango apples

Introduced in 2009, SweeTango — a hybrid of Honeycrisp and Zestar — is a sweet apple with plenty of crunch.

Style

London Fashion Week recap

London Fashion week gets in on the action with politics, heritage and summertime living.

Food

Padma Lakshmi's recipe for green mango curry

Padma Lakshmi shares her recipe for green mango curry in UNICEF's new book, "UNICHEF."