Inflammation is known to be the root cause of multiple forms of disease, ranging from heart disease to diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and many digestive disorders. It’s also one of the most overlooked causes of the weight problems. Weight loss diets will come and go, and while some may work temporarily to lower the number on the scale, many create larger problems over time due to the fact they rob the body of nutrients and contribute to inflammation. One of these examples is the low-fat craze that took place years ago with fat-free cereals, cookies, chips, peanut butter … you name it. Then there was the Slim Fast approach, nothing but chemical concoctions dressed up with fancy marketing, and later came diets that involved counting, routine measuring, and other less-than-optimal approaches.
We can all agree that got us nowhere except malnourished, hungry all the time, and likely with more food cravings than when we ever dreamed of. This isn’t how nature intended for the body to work. This way of living is not what eating is about, nor is it what our bodies require to be healthy or maintain an optimal weight—which is different for everyone.
The Key to a Healthy, Happy Body:
When it comes to managing your weight, nutritional balance and consistency are important. Various ups and downs throughout the years aren’t healthy for the body, not to mention confusing. Extremely low (or high) calorie diets are naturally inflammatory to the body; they put a strain on the cells and major organs. They can also interfere with other processes of the body ranging from heart, digestive, blood, and other functions. These problems alone also lead to inflammation, repeating a vicious cycle.
The best way to end the cycle and achieve health is to eat a diet that both treats and prevents inflammation, an in return, disease. Most people don’t consider the way this leads to a healthy weight, but it’s actually the easiest and most powerful way to stay at a lose weight and manage a healthy weight for a longer period of time. The simple answer? Eat an anti-inflammatory diet based off of whole, plant-based foods.
Read on to learn more about the power of an anti-inflammatory diet and how it can naturally help you eliminate counting calories, stay healthy, and find a healthy, happy weight for you that works for life.
1. Heart Health
A healthy weight is hard to achieve if your heart isn’t in good health because the heart controls multiple aspects of metabolism and energy levels. A healthy heart can also help prevent inflammation that leads to diabetes and/or chronic inflammation that leads to heart disease. It’s also more important to focus on heart-healthy foods rather than just how many calories a food has. Some of the best heart-healthy foods include vegetables, nuts, seeds, greens, fruits, beans, legumes, and low-glycemic grains. These are simple enough to get in a plant-based diet, but should also be considered for heart health on any type of diet.
Anti-inflammatory foods support healthy blood flow, help keep the arteries clear, and help manage hormone levels in our blood, along with blood viscosity necessary to prevent heart disease and diabetes further.
2. Food Cravings
Food cravings can also be caused from inflammation, namely sugar, red meat, fried foods, junk foods, and refined grains. These foods don’t just make us gain weight, but they stimulate our appetites more because they don’t satisfy us nutritionally. The body confuses this unmet need with heightened hunger. Many (refined, processed, and fried foods) also contain ingredients that can trigger a false increased appetite, such as excess salt, sugar, MSG, and various chemicals. Not to mention, many of these foods have been linked to diabetes that lead to problems managing one’s weight. Anti-inflammatory foods, on the other hand, such as greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, are extremely alkaline and are some of the most nutrient-dense foods we have available to us.
When the body eats these foods and receives raw nutrients, it is immediately satisfied, given the right fuel to maintain healthy organ function, and no longer suffers because it’s not being deprived from real food.
3. Blood Sugar
Blood sugar levels are also supported naturally through anti-inflammatory foods; some of the best are natural sources of protein such as hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, chia, flax, broccoli, spinach, kale, lentils, and chickpeas. Most all nuts, seeds, greens, vegetables, beans, and legumes support blood sugar levels. While fruits and grains may (and sometimes should) be limited to support blood sugar levels, most people who embrace moderate servings of them still experience better blood sugar levels than excessive amounts of insulin-raising animal proteins.
4. It Maximizes the Good Stuff
More importantly, an anti-inflammatory diet maximizes beneficial foods and reduces the attention to poorer choices. You needn’t spend money on diet products, fancy foods, or freezable, low-calorie meals. You also don’t need to skip a meal just so you can eat a fast food meal later without feeling guilty, or even exercise all your calories away. An anti-inflammatory diet puts more attention on healthy foods and includes no restriction on calories—when the body receives nutrients it needs, it will naturally let you know when you’re full.
An anti-inflammatory diet also includes plenty of herbs, spices, and teas which are potent in their abilities to not only reduce inflammation, but also satisfy the appetite and palate naturally. Some can even reduce inflammation themselves, such as turmeric, green tea, cilantro, and parsley.
5. It’s Balanced
An anti-inflammatory diet is also balanced. It does not emphasize one food group over another, but embraces healthy fats, anti-inflammatory proteins, and low-glycemic, fiber rich choices of natural carbohydrates. Different amounts of these foods will work differently for each individual, but a balance much easier to reach when you focus on eating a variety of anti-inflammatory plant-based choices and working them in throughout the day.
These foods are full of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and some even have probiotics and immune-boosting properties which are also linked to weight management and a healthy body.
It should also be noted that an anti-inflammatory diet naturally enables us to move more and be more active. We all sit so much when working or while watching entertainment, surfing the web, dining in restaurants (versus cooking more at home), in our cars, etc. But our bodies can actually become inflammatory by too much sitting, as they need movement and regular activity for proper lymphatic flow. An inflammatory diet only feeds this as it robs your energy, weakens your joints and immune system, and makes you feel too tired to want to do anything else. To break the cycle, focus on eating anti-inflammatory foods first, and then start moving more. You’ll see how much differently healthy foods make you feel, and your body won’t be able to stand sitting so much for very long! Walking, yoga, and low-intensity exercises also improve lymphatic flow that reduces inflammation in return.
For more tips on eating an anti-inflammatory diet, see our Anti-Inflammatory Checklist That Can Transform Your Life for the best food choices and even meal ideas to help get you started! Then, check out our Plant-Based Nutrition Guide for all your nutritional needs as you embrace an anti-inflammatory, whole foods diet.
Lead Image Source: Flickr