Following an anti-inflammation diet is essential for everyone’s optimum health.
- Eat larger portions of fresh fruits and vegetables (never frozen, canned or processed) than meats or processed foods. Fruits and vegetables contain fiber, vitamins, minerals and enzymes in high density and are easily assimilated in the body.
- Minimize your consumption of beef, lamb and pork. Choose organically grown meat products when available. Include organic chicken, turkey and wild caught fish as adjuncts to your vegetable dishes.
- Eat more dark, green, leafy vegetables such as chard, kale, spinach, arugula, broccoli and darker lettuce varieties, as well as cabbage and garlic, which all have been proven clinically to lower inflammation and fight cancer,
- Eat less starchy vegetables such as potatoes, rice and beans.
- Do not overcook your vegetables as they contain important enzymes needed for digestion. Once the enzymes are damaged from overcooking, it may become harder to digest food, thus leading to more inflammation.
- Drink green tea and pure, filtered water. You may add freshly squeezed organic lemon juice to some of your water.
- Reduce grains and meats to 20% of your diet. Increase organic fruits and vegetables to 80%.
Consume less or none of the following:
- Dairy products from cows. Instead, try rice milk, such as Rice Dream, Almond Milk or a coconut milk product. You may use small amounts of goat and sheep cheese as a condiment.
- Sugar, sucrose, corn sugar, maltose, dextrose, brown sugar
- Gluten containing products such as whole wheat, kamut, triticale, spelt, rye, barley and semolina flour. There may be some gluten in oats.
- Coffee, caffeine drinks, sodas and black tea.
- Red meat, Pork, Lamb
- Eggs from chickens that are not raised naturally. Most eggs are derived from chickens raised with hormones, antibiotics and are not range fed.
- Salt and high sodium foods as it causes swelling from fluid retention.
- Fried foods, especially deep-fried, as the oils quickly go rancid.
- Desserts, muffins, candy, cake, sugary drinks, ice cream made with refined sugar, corn syrup or artificial sweeteners. This includes dextrose, saccharin, and aspartame.
- Foods with preservatives
- Corn products if you are sensitive to them
- Overly processed food
- Vegetables from the nightshade family(tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant if you have a sensitivity to them.
Want more information? Here is a chapter from my forthcoming book, Recover Quickly from Surgery.
The Recover Quickly Diet
1. Consume Fresh, Organic Vegetables As 50%-75% Of Your Meals
Vegetables contain fiber, vitamins, minerals and enzymes in high density and are generally well assimilated in the body. In addition, vegetables alkalinize the blood and thereby reduce inflammation. Choose brightly colored vegetables that are fresh. Include raw salads at least once a day. In order to retain the nutrients, do not overcook your vegetables.
2. Eat Fresh Fruits As Snacks Or As Part Of Your Breakfast
Fruits serve as healthy snacks containing fiber as well as essential vitamins. Berries, grapefruit, greener bananas, pears and apples are optimum because they have a lower glycemic index.
3. Eat Organically Raised Chicken, Turkey, Eggs And Wild-Caught Fish
The body requires the proper amino acids to heal. These are best found in organic lean protein. Low quality, processed, cured, fatty meats may contain harmful hormones, additives, preservatives and pesticides that can inhibit your body’s recovery process. Eat a variety of proteins so that you get a balance of amino acids. Those with kidney issues need to discuss the appropriate protein intake with their doctor.
4. Limit Red Meat
Red meat is high in fat, usually contains hormones and is often not organically fed. Additionally, red meat is high in Omega 6’s, which may cause inflammation. Hot dogs and other forms of processed meat may be additionally unhealthy.
5. Minimize Starches such as Potatoes, Rice and Beans
Starches add extra calories and not enough nutrients, unless you are very active or a vegetarian. Proper combinations of rice and beans may contain enough protein if you are a vegan.
6. Avoid Gluten Products
Gluten is found in whole wheat, white bread flour, rye, barley and spelt and acts as an inflammatory agent for many people. While some people have an undetected gluten intolerance, others may be affected with joint swelling, bloating, sneezing, itchy eyes, loose bowels, stomach pain, flatulence, achy joints, back pain, blood sugar imbalances and more. Continued use of wheat for these patients can later cause celiac disease, a chronic condition of the small intestines, which occurs in one in one hundred thirty-three individuals.
Also, more commonly, people can experience an immune reaction to gliadin, which is contained in gluten products. This sensitivity causes the improper digestion of the gluten. Your immune system, believing it to be hostile, attacks the gliadin, leaving large holes in your digestive track. This results in inflammation and a breakdown of the immune system. This inflammation can affect your joints, gut and the areas of your incisions.
Products such as bakery goods, pastas, snack foods, gravies, pastries and many processed foods contain wheat products that contain gluten. Read labels before purchasing. Substitute amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet, quinoa and brown or wild rice. There are increasingly more gluten free products available as people are recognizing the effects of gluten on their health.
7. Avoid Sugar in all Forms
Sugar acts as a major contributor of inflammation in the body. If you want to reduce inflammation and increase your energy overall, you must reduce sugar intake. A recent 2009 study linked high insulin levels (thereby high sugar levels) with increased risk of breast cancer. In this report, women who had higher insulin levels had nearly twice the risk of developing breast cancer as women with the lowest insulin levels. 23 Numerous other studies have linked high glucose sugar levels with the promotion of cancer cells.
In addition, sugar may cause loss of tissue elasticity, which is important in healing after surgery. It interferes with the absorption of calcium and magnesium, leads to chromium deficiency and upsets the relationship of other minerals in the body.
High blood sugar is linked to heart disease and diabetes. Both of these present a risk to anyone having surgery. In addition sugar may cause loss of tissue elasticity. It is also linked to health issues such as immuno-suppression, hyperactivity, depression, mineral deficiencies, acidity, obesity, arthritis, gum disease, tooth decay, food allergies, fluid retention and headaches. 24
High fructose corn syrup, refined sugar and foods that have a high glycemic index should be avoided. Drinks with sugar or artificial sweeteners and caffeine offer no nutrition, supply empty calories, are inflammatory and dehydrate the body. Examples of food or beverages to be avoided include candy, cakes, pastries, ice cream, sodas, white rice, white flour, alcohol and sweetened beverages.
Hydrate with pure water. Add lemon to pure water for a refreshing beverage. Need a lift? Brew some green tea, add a few tablespoons of pomegranate and blueberry juice, chill and sip on it during the day. Try adding small amounts of stevia or acacia honey (a type of honey that has lower glycemic levels) to your foods if you want them sweeter.
8. Minimize Dairy, Especially Cow Dairy Products
There are many reasons why it is important to avoid or limit dairy, especially as an adult. Increasingly, dairy is being linked to an increased cancer risk due to the fifty plus hormones that are natural or artificially introduced into the cow. Dairy products introduce high levels of cholesterol into the body leading to cardiovascular issues. Various populations in the US have an allergy or intolerance to cow dairy products leading to immune issues. Because dairy molecules are not easily broken down easily in the gut, consumption may cause mucus formation in the body.
The calcium in milk products doesn’t necessarily build bone. The protein in milk competes with the calcium for absorption into bone. There are much better sources of calcium in eggshells and vegetables. The phosphorus in milk products ages cell structure. In addition, there are likely to be a variety of contaminants such as pesticides, herbicides, antibiotic residues, and other drugs used to treat the cows.
Dairy also contains Omega 6 fats an essential fatty acid. However, the American diet is higher Omega 6 than Omega 3 EFA’s. This imbalance is known to produce chronic inflammation.
Goat and sheep dairy molecules are smaller, thereby being easier to digest properly. Use small amounts of goat and sheep cheese as a condiment. Instead of milk, try drinking rice milk, coconut milk or almond milk. If you enjoy the taste of butter, try making ghee or clarified butter as this process removes the dairy solids.
It is best to cook with olive oil, canola oil or coconut oil. Healthy fats are necessary for hormone production yet may yield a high caloric factor to foods. Examples of good fats are walnut, olive, canola and coconut oil, cold-water fish, seeds, nuts and avocados.
9. Avoid Processed Foods
Processed and junk foods such as chips, breakfast cereals, frozen dinners, cookies, pastries and crackers are usually made with wheat, sugars, preservatives, soy bean or cottonseed oil, MSG, excessive sodium and other unhealthy ingredients.
Most fast foods contain high levels of fat and sodium, including trans-fats, which are known to be carcinogenic. They are usually high in calories, non-organic and may be deep fried in fats that are rancid.
Bottom line: These foods do not offer real nutrition and readily cause inflammation in the body. Avoid before surgery.
10. Avoid Foods with High Sodium Content
Excessive sodium will cause swelling, high blood pressure, hypertension and fluid retention. If you are able to minimize swelling during your procedure, you will minimize pain. Most labels contain sodium content and give you the percent of the recommended daily limit for sodium consumption.
11. Avoid Consuming Foods From the Nightshade Family
Recent studies indicate that consuming nightshade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, paprika, peppers, tomatillos, pimentos, tobacco sauce, ground cherries, etc) may delay the healing process after surgery. It is suggested that the nightshade vegetables inhibit two important enzymes that process the anesthesia drugs. Nightshades also contain solanine, which is said to be toxic and may increase joint pain and alkaloids, which may compromise joint function. 25Although the nightshade vegetables may not adversely affect everyone, it might be wise to avoid or limit your consumption of them prior to your surgery.
12. Avoid or Limit Fish with High Mercury Content such as Albacore Tuna, Swordfish and Shark
Mercury and other heavy metals are inflammatory and may cause cancer and other degenerative diseases. Lower mercury levels are found in salmon, scallops, mackerel, lighter tuna, shrimp, shellfish and catfish.26
13. Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables to Alkalinize Your System
An acidic imbalance can lessen the body's ability to absorb minerals and other necessary nutrients as well as decrease its ability to repair damaged cells. It also decreases its ability to detoxify heavy metals, which makes it more susceptible to inflammation.
Specific vegetables should be eaten or juiced regularly to aid in reducing inflammation. Dark, leafy greens, collards, parsley, alfalfa, bean sprouts and celery are known to be key vegetables that restore a proper alkaline balance. Studies show that juicing celery can prevent high blood pressure, prevent gout and help arthritis. Celery contains over a dozen anti-inflammatory agents, including apigenin, a cox2-inhibiting compound similar to some anti-inflammatory drugs. Juicing it will optimize its effects.27
14. Eat Several Small Meals a Day
Eating several small meals that contain fifteen to twenty grams of light protein help maintain blood sugar, providing even energy throughout the day. It is optimum to also consume 20 grams of vegetables as well. Include healthy oils, such as olive, flax and coconut as well as other essential fatty acids found in fish oil.
15. Use These Anti-Inflammatory Herbs
Research shows that the following herbs reduce inflammation in the body.
Green tea is a delicious way to begin the day. Numerous clinical studies show that drinking one to three cups of green tea a day can block chemical pathways that can lead to cancer cell growth. 28Research indicates that green tea extract also acts as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and has been shown to help control leukemia.
Turmeric is part of the ginger family and a main spice in yellow curry dishes. It is known to be one of the most effective anti-inflammatory food ingredients. It contains a molecule known as curcumin, which studies have shown to inhibit cancer growth. 29Dissolve in olive oil, mix with black pepper and add to rice, salad dressing or curry dishes. Try adding to your smoothie in the morning. You can buy it in capsule form as well.
Ginger acts as both an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It can thin your blood so it is best to consult with your physician before using it right before your surgery. Ginger tea helps digestion after dinner. Grate and add to your vegetables, soups, juice or tea.