In the April 2012 issue of Environmental Nutrition, I enjoyed reading through 12 anti-inflammatory eating approaches on pg 4, in order to reduce risk of age-related chronic diseases and promote healthy living.
According to the article, "in order to reduce inflammation, aim for optimal diet patterns. Follow a diet rich in whole foods, including carbs such as whole grains, fruits, fats like nuts and avocados, protein sources such as fish and legumes and include regular exercise and don't smoke. All simple lifestyle practices that seem to "cool down" inflammation, according to a 2006 review published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. "
"Conversely, researchers found that a diet high in refined starches, sugar, sat fat, trans fat and low in fruits, veggies, whole grains and omega 3 fatty acids appears to turn on the inflammatory resonse. "
My favorite part of the article was at the end..
"Your best bet to reduce disease risk is to include an array of plant foods in your diet in order to gain the benefits of their interactive and naturally occurring nutrients and phytochemicals which can tamp down chronic inflammation and promote optimal aging."
Here are the 12 eating approaches listed on pg 4 for a Healthy Aging Food Strategy.
1. Balance your calorie intake to maintain a healthy weight.
2. Load your diet with a variety of fruits and veggies - in every color, size, texture and shape to provide a range of nutrients and anti-inflammatory compounds.
3. Choose carbs that are less refined and high in fiber - such as unsweetened fruits, veggies, whole grains, including whole wheat, oats, quinoa, brown rice, bulgur and barley.
4. Focus on eating more fish and seafood, such as shrimp, crab, and scallops - shoot for at least 2 servings per week. Don't over-do animal protein intake by consuming excessive amounts of red meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products.
5. Include more plant proteins - such as beans, lentils, peas, soy foods (ex. tofu, soy milke, edamame) and nuts.
6. Select healthy fats - like extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, nuts and avocados. Minimize sat fat from meats and dairy products and trans fat found in processed foods like French Fries and snack foods.
7. Boost omega-3 fatty acids - through seafood choices like salmon, sardines and herring and plant sources such as walnuts and flaxseeds.
8. Flavor your foods with anti-inflammatory spices and herbs - such as garlic, green herbs, ginger, black or red pepper and turmeric.
9. Drink green, white or black tea (Unsweetened) more often.
10. If you drink alcohol, enjoy red wine in moderation - one glass per day for women, 2 glasses per day for men.
11. Enjoy antioxidant rich dark chocolate - at least 70% cocoa in small amounts, up to 1 ounce as a treat.
12. Avoid foods that are refined, overly processed and low in nutrients - such as those made with white flour, sugars and refined oils, including donuts and sugary cereals.
The advice sounds simple and easy to follow. No long list of bad foods and it seems as if variety is key. To get started on your journey of healthy aging, as well as just feeling better both with activity and in daily life activities, try assessing your current diet and finding areas that you can work on today, to make for a better tomorrow. Make small modifications that make an impact. The idea is not to cut out food nor to just add food. With a few swaps and replacements you may find yourself feeling more control over your eating, appetite and cravings during the day, thus benefiting your workout routine, your sleeping pattterns, your relationships with others and how you are living your life.