Anti-inflammatory recipes for women who run

How an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Can Keep You Running Strong

A variety of chronic diseases are on the rise. Conditions like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer as well as Alzheimer’s disease are becoming increasingly common. What do all of these health conditions have in common? Each is linked to chronic inflammation in the body. Both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory foods we choose in our diets can have a profound effect on our bodies. And when chronic inflammation exists, disease often follows.

The first research evidence that supported the anti-inflammatory diet was conducted by Dr. John Yudkan, a research nutritionist out of Cambridge in the late 1930s. His studies suggested that refined sugar was detrimental to one’s health because of inflammatory effects. But his theory was not well accepted at the time. Instead, a focus of concern centered on saturated fats and their relationship to heart disease. This eventually led the USDA to make recommendations for eating a low fat, high carbohydrate diet. Not only did these recommendations include refined grains and sugars in the diet, but they also included processed foods and vegetable oils high in omega-6 fatty acids. Today, all of these are known to cause inflammation in the body, and many experts link these diets to our current obesity epidemic.[i]

Changing the narrative on anti-inflammatory foods

It was not until the late 1980s that scientists began to discover that high carb diets were actually linked to weight gain and poor health. Likewise, evidence began to accumulate that many of the common foods people include in their diet were highly inflammatory. In 1988, Dr. Art Ayers was among the first to report that refined carbohydrates, sugars, and omega-6 fatty acids triggered inflammation while also showing that fiber, vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids were anti-inflammatory.

The goal of an anti-inflammatory diet is to include foods that reduce inflammation while avoiding those that trigger it.

Inflammatory foods to avoid

There are a few broad categories of inflammatory foods that you should avoid. The first category includes sugars and refined carbohydrates. These substances cause a rapid rises in blood glucose levels and are known to trigger inflammation throughout the body. The second group to avoid is processed foods. This includes processed meats and a variety of other prepackaged or preserved foods. Lastly, you should avoid foods with saturated or trans fats since these are also associated with chronic inflammatory responses. By avoiding these foods, you will substantially lower the amount of inflammation in your body.

At the same time, several foods can actually reduce inflammation within the body. In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, which are loaded with antioxidants and nutritious substances, other anti-inflammatory foods include various spices, nuts, whole grains, and fatty fishes. Likewise, some unsaturated oils and high-protein legumes also offer benefits. Including these types of foods in your diet represents the other major component of the anti-inflammatory diet.

Want to add more anti-inflammatory foods to your diet? Download the Anti-inflammatory Recipes For Women Who Run.

An anti-inflammatory diet naturally strives to reduce chronic inflammation, which is linked to weight gain and poor health. But that does not mean that all types of inflammation are bad. Inflammation is actually a normal process in the body that helps us fight off infections and some cancers. During acute inflammation, your immune system becomes activated to help restore your body to its normal level of health. But sometimes, inflammation can become chronic, and instead of helping your body function better, it can make it worse. Chronic inflammation of tissues and organs can therefore undermine function leading to all types of diseases as well as weight gain.

Your diet is among one of the most important determinants of the level of chronic inflammation in your body. Certainly, managing your stress levels are important as is avoiding toxins in the environment. But the food you choose can also trigger or suppress chronic inflammation. If our diet contains pro-inflammatory foods, then blood pressure may rise, vascular disease may develop, and our metabolism may slow. Hormone systems may perform less well, and even our immune system can become exhausted, increasing the risk of infections and cancers. By reducing inflammation in the body, an anti-inflammatory diet allows your body to again achieve optimal health.

Try adding some of these anti-inflammatory foods to your diet:

  • Leafy greens: kale, spinach, Swiss chard, bok choy, collard greens, arugula
  • Celery
  • Broccoli
  • Reb Cabbage
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Butternut Squash
  • Carrots
  • Nuts
  • Berries
  • Fatty Fish: salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovies, herring
  • Avocados
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Green Tea

And follow these simple tips to help fight inflammation:

  • Choose a variety of fresh foods, including fruits and vegetables of various colors
  • Maintain portion control in addition to making wise food selections
  • Drink plenty of water while avoiding sodas and sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Replace refined carbs and sugars with whole grains (in moderation)
  • Replace processed meats and fatty meats with fatty fish and legume proteins
  • Replace saturated fats and vegetable oils with extra-virgin olive oils and unsaturated fats
  • Manage your stress and invest in an active lifestyle

Want to add more anti-inflammatory foods to your diet? Download the Anti-inflammatory Recipes For Women Who Run.

Download Anti-Inflammatory Recipes for Runners

[i] Lewis, B. (2015). Anti-inflammatory game changers: the low-carb people in recent history. Read more here.

Dawna is a mom of two, author of ten books and founder of Women's Running magazine and the Virtual Women's Half Marathon series. She is also a certified health coach and motivational speaker. Dawna has appeared on the Today show, MSNBC and morning news programs on NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox. Dawna has launched and sold two wellness companies and loves combining her passion for health and wellness with her love of running. Learn more about Dawna Stone.

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