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  • Writer's picturereshma khan

Let food be thy medicine

‘Let food be thy medicine’

The idea of using nutrition to promote good health is nothing new. Hippocrates, the ancient Greek father of western medicine, said “LET FOOD BE THY MEDICINE” over 2000 years ago. Yet it was not until more recently that the scientists and physicians have started paying more attention to science behind it. One of the most common question I get from my patients everyday in my office is,

“What kind of food should I be eating to help my inflammation?”

Is there really an anti inflammatory diet? I have read many scientific journal articles to look for an answers and I will summarize few things that can be easy to follow. However I want to make it clear that you should always consult your doctor before following any diet.

In general, to reduce levels of inflammation, aim for an overall healthy diet. The same foods that contribute to inflammation are generally considered bad for our health, including sodas, refined carbohydrates, red meat and processed meats. You should make all efforts to avoid this kind of processed food. Some of these foods that have been associated with an increased risk for chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease are also associated with excess inflammation since inflammation is an important underlying mechanism for the development of these diseases. Unhealthy foods also contribute to weight gain, which is itself a risk factor for inflammation. If you are looking for an eating plan that closely follows the anti-inflammatory diet then you can consider Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish and healthy oils. The Mediterranean diet is based on a pattern of eating closely tied to the Mediterranean region, which includes Greece and southern Italy. It emphasizes foods from plant sources, limited meat consumption, small amounts of wine and olive oil as the main fat source.

I try to follow balance diet as I have never been a fan of one particular diet plan. I also try to restrict calorie intake to make sure I am not over eating. I try to simplify diet plans for my patient so they stick to it and don’t feel overwhelmed. I start with eliminating one food every week that I think is not good for them. I try to replace that food with something more healthy. For example most common thing I ask my patients is to start replacing soda and sugary drinks. I ask them to replace it with water and sugar free green tea. I usually encourage everyone to make their own tea with options to add fresh grated ginger, curcumin or mint leaves.

Fish are good sources of inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids. You can also take fish oil supplements. Recent research has shown benefit of fish oil supplements in rheumatoid arthritis by reducing joint pain, swelling and morning stiffness.

You can replace those unhealthy chips with a handful of nuts such as walnuts, almonds or pistachio. Nuts are packed with inflammation-fighting monosaturated fat.

Beans are great source of plant based protein. Many researchers have found plant based protein superior and healthier than animal protein.

Fruits and vegetables are in general good, specially citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables. The more colorful your plate looks, the more antioxidants it has!

If you want to get more information on food that helps with inflammation then I recommend reading the book called ‘The China Study’ from your local library. If you have Netflix at home then I also recommend watching the documentary called ‘Forks over knives’ by Lee Fulkerson and “What the health’ by Kip Andersen.

‘The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.’ – Thomas Edison
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