Healthier Plate

Arthritis Awareness Month: Fight Inflammation with Food

May 31, 2018

By Renell Cronk, RDN, LDN

Think of your body like a computer, and inflammation like your antivirus protection. When something like a virus is on the attack, there is a defender that reacts to prevent the invasion. Inflammation is the body’s natural healing response to defend against external intruders like bacteria or damaged cells. Inflammation can be a healthy, positive reaction.

However, there are two types of inflammation, acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is quick, and usually fades within a short period of time. On the flip side, chronic inflammation can last several months, or in extreme cases, years. This is typically a case of not resolving the root cause, or may be attributed to repeat exposure. Chronic inflammation can be affected by many things, such as stress, allergies and inactivity. One of the biggest contributors-poor dietary habits.  Habitually poor dietary habits may keep chronic inflammation issues and symptoms around, leading to weight gain/ trouble losing weight, lack of energy, skin issues, joint/back pain, digestive problems and an array of other health problems.

The good news; better dietary choices can promote a healthy inflammatory response. Here is the scoop on foods to avoid and foods to add.

FOODS TO AVOID (Promoters of chronic inflammation)

1.   Sugar — By itself or in foods like pastries, cookies, candy, soda, etc. Use substitutes like raw honey, stevia, pure maple syrup, xylitol or monk fruit.

2.   Vegetable oils — Such as corn and soybean oils and trans fats. Instead use butter from grass fed/pasture raised cows, ghee, olive oil, avocado oil or coconut oil.

3.   Fried foods — Fried chicken, french fries, mozzarella sticks, etc. Bake, boil and grill your food instead of eating fried.

4.   Refined carbohydrates — Bread, rice, pasta and crackers, etc. Eat cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles, cloud bread or almond crackers instead.

5.    Refined salt/table salt — Choose real salt, pink Himalayan salt or Celtic Sea salt.

6.    Certain dairy — Processed cheese and uncultured yogurt. Better options may be raw cheese or cheese from grass fed/pasture raised cows and live cultured yogurt without added sugar.

7.   Processed foods — Cereal, chips, hot dogs, frozen meals, etc. Instead go for food in its natural state, like fresh vegetables.

8.   Grain fed meats — Beef, pork and chicken. Go for grass fed or pasture raised meats instead.

9.   Too much alcohol — Beer, wine and liquor. Either eliminate alcohol from you diet or only consume in moderation.

10.  Fast food — Instead hit the salad bar at your local supermarket for a quick meal.

FOODS TO ADD (Supporters of healthy inflammation)

1.   Berries — Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries. Go for fresh, organic and locally grown when possible.

2.   Peppers — Look for pepper red in color like in red bell peppers, chili pepper or cayenne pepper. You can also find some in supplement form or under the name of capsaicin.

3.   Turmeric or curcumin (the active substance in turmeric) — It is recommended to take a turmeric (curcumin) supplement that contains black pepper extract (piperine), this improves absorption of the turmeric in the body.

4.   Ginger or kaempferol (the active substance in ginger) — It is great in many forms from fresh ginger root to ginger-containing supplements.

5.   Omega-3s or EPA and DHA (the key components of omega-3s) — You can get it from wild caught salmon/sardines and other fatty fish or in supplement form. It is recommended to look for an omega-3 supplement in triglyceride from that also contains antioxidants like vitamin E or astaxanthin to protect the oil from going rancid.

6.   Green Tea or EGCG (key substance in green tea) — Iit is great in tea form, just don’t add sugar or you can take it in supplement form.

7.   Cacao (a component of true chocolate) — Try out Cacao nibs or look for chocolate that is 70% cacao or greater.

8.   Cherries or tart cherries — You can find these fresh when in season, dried (but watch out for added sugar) or in supplement form.

9.   Allium vegetables — Like in chives, garlic, leeks, scallions, shallots and onions. It’s best to go for fresh, organic and locally grown when possible.

10.  Cruciferous and leafy green vegetables — Like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, kale, spinach, arugula. Again, it’s best to go for fresh, organic and locally grown when possible.


About the Author

Renell Cronk is a Registered Dietitian with PsyMed, Inc. She helps educate and prepare Nicholson Clinic patients before and after surgery with meal planning, recipe ideas, nutrition education and more. Nothing gives Renell a greater feeling of accomplishment and joy than helping individuals achieve their health, lifestyle and nutrition goals.