We all heard of the myriad of fad diets and trends that promise to make us look and feel better. But are they really working?
We get excited at the inception of each new diet, hoping for a miracle, only to find ourselves deprived and disappointed a couple of weeks later (that of course, if we can make it thus far). That’s why they are just that: A Diet!
We tend to fall off that diet just a few weeks later, landing back where we started or worse, developing mood swings and uncontrollable cravings as a result of strict abstinence from a certain food group, that we just so happen to discover we have a sensitivity to. This is typically a normal reaction in the case of an unbalanced diet, which some of the fad diets promote.
When choosing a diet we have to choose one we can stick to long term. One that is in line with our lifestyle and promotes balanced living and long term health benefits. One that can become a Lifestyle!
The Anti-inflammatory diet (also known as the Mediterranean diet), in my opinion, does just that:
♥ It consists of well-balanced food choices
♥ It promotes balanced eating (not an extreme way of eating)
♥ It has undeniable health benefits, and
♥ It can easily become a Lifestyle, not a diet!
Top 3 benefits to adopting an Anti-inflammatory Diet/Lifestyle
1. It reduces the risk of developing cancer.
Most diseases and cancers are the result of chronic inflammation. The best way to reduce inflammation and prevent such diseases from occurring is to adopt an anti-inflammatory diet that we can stick to for the rest of our life, without actually being on a diet. Actual studies made in the 1960’s proved that people living in the Mediterranean region tend to have a longer life expectancy and better overall health as a result of diet and lifestyle. But it’s worth mentioning that aside from diet, their lifestyle involves daily exercise and active social life (and I don’t mean Facebook), which in my opinion have a major impact on our overall health and well-being. Feeling part of a community and sharing meals with family and friends has an important therapeutic effect on our wellbeing. This must be due to the release of the feel good hormones – the endorphins – which are known to have an anti-inflammatory pain reliever effect as well.
2. It promotes a healthy and balanced Gut.
The Gut sits at the core of our mental and physical health and has a huge impact on our overall well-being. My personal story is a testament of the devastating effects of an unbalanced Gut. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet protects the Gut lining, which, if damaged, could lead to leaky-Gut, a syndrome that could result in nutrient malabsorption, food sensitivities and overall inflammatory process that brings the whole body out of balance, making room for an array of diseases.
3. It contributes to maintaining a healthy weight.
One of the “side-effects” to adopting an anti-inflammatory diet is maintaining a healthy weight and even losing weight, especially when switching from a pro-inflammatory to an anti-inflammatory diet.
You now must be wondering,” Ok, Camelia, but what is in the anti-inflammatory diet? What’s the secret?” Well, there is no secret. As a matter of fact, this is a typical diet for most people living around the Mediterranean Sea. Why? Because it consists mainly of wild fish and nuts, rich in omega 3 fatty-acids (as main protein), and a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, as well as complex carbs (such as: brown rice, quinoa, oats, sweet potatoes, and other whole grains).
In other words, you get to eat the entire spectrum of the food plate, but the secret here is “whole foods”. And I don’t mean shopping only at Whole Foods (although I must admit that’s my guilty pleasure), but eating whole, unrefined and unprocessed foods.
Foods suitable while on an anti-inflammatory diet
♥ Vegetables (leafy greens and root vegetables – the more the merrier)
♥ Fruits (all kinds, but I emphasize berries, as they are reach in anti-oxidants and have less sugar)
♥ Whole grains (mainly brown rice, quinoa, oats, buckwheat and whole wheat)
♥ Fish (wild fish, such as salmon, sardines and Alaskan wild cod)
♥ Meats (preferably organic poultry and lean meats – try to limit to no more than 2x/week)
♥ Dairy (high quality cheese, unsweetened yogurt and eggs – try to limit to 2x/week)
♥ Legumes (beans, chickpeas, soybeans, peas)
♥ Olive oil and healthy fats (such as avocado, coconut oil)
♥ Spices (turmeric, ginger, garlic and cinnamon have known anti-inflammatory properties)
♥ Red wine (Yes, it is permitted in moderation, as it’s a good source of anti-oxidants thanks to the resveratrol content found in red grapes).
Sounds easy as pie, right? It’s really a no brainer. It only takes a little bit of time and coordination to start incorporating this diet into your lifestyle and reap the health benefits it brings with it. I encourage you to experiment with it. You might decide that you don’t need any meat, other than just fish and dairy (which is what I did). Or you could drop dairy all together. Whatever works for you and fits your lifestyle and body type. That’s what I love about this diet. It gives you so many options to choose from, without feeling deprived.
You will be surprised by how much your energy and outlook on life will change once you adopt this diet, even if the only thing you do is to increase the intake of fruits and vegetables or cut down on refined and processed foods. I know it made a tremendous difference in my life and that of my family.
I am curious to know if you had any experience with this diet and how it changed your life. If this is the first time you are trying it out, I’d like to hear how that goes for you. So, please, take some time to share your story or ask questions in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!
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About the author:
Camelia is a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and founder of the Healthy Zesty Path to Wellness, LLC.
A cancer survivor and a holistic health and nutrition enthusiast, she is a firm believer that what we feed our body and how we nurture our whole self has a huge impact on our overall health and well-being.
She believes that we should all feel vibrant and healthy in order to truly enjoy a purposeful life. She wants to help others regain their energy and zest for life through food and self-care, with a focus on healing the Gut, which is responsible of our overall well-being.
Camelia received her nutrition training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York and is board certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP).