Whole Food Diets and Inflammation

Posted by Liz Erker, Registered Dietitian on Tuesday, March 5, 2019 in Nutrition and Diet

almondsIn recent years, much attention has been given to the dietary treatment of numerous chronic conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. While the dietary treatment for RA and OA is controversial, some studies show that a whole food, plant-based diet can produce significant reduction in pain when compared to a typical Western diet (or one that is high in animal foods and some vegetable oils, and tend to show a pro-inflammatory response).

In general, the more whole food, plant-based foods you eat, the better. These include fruits, vegetables, nuts (especially almonds and pecans), whole grains, and dried beans. Foods like these are high in fiber, which can help normalize the inflammatory response that often occurs following a rapid increase or decrease in blood sugar levels. They are also high in antioxidants, which are good for people with osteoarthritis inflammation.

The omega-3 fatty acids in plant-based foods also appear to lower the production of inflammatory proteins. Research has shown that a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids may decrease inflammation to the same extent that aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) do. Some experts hypothesize that the omega-6 fats found in chicken, beef, corn oil, and safflower oil actually lead to inflammation.

Eating more plant-based foods is what I call, ‘clean eating’ and does not involve following a specific diet or eating only certain foods; instead, it is a trend among health-conscious consumers to eat more foods that are whole and unrefined, and fewer of those foods that contain additives or have been highly processed. To eat cleanly, one should start preparing more meals at home, examine food labels to identify foods with fewer ingredients, learn more about the source of your food, and appreciate how the food affects your body. If eating cleanly is a practice which intrigues you, give it a try for a few weeks; you may notice numerous benefits to your inflammation and overall health.

Below are tips to help you start eating more plants and less highly processed foods:

  • Emphasize whole, minimally processed foods
  • Limit or avoid animal products
  • Focus on plants, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts. These should make up the majority of what you eat
  • Exclude refined foods, like added sugars, white flour and processed oils.

Liz is a Certified Health Coach with Optavia and a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist through the American Dietetic Association. For more information on Liz and her nutrition services, please click here. +

Tags

  1. diet
  2. inflammation
  3. liz erker
  4. nutrition
  5. osteoarthritis
  6. rheumatoid arthritis