Changing how and what we eat, as well as managing stress and getting enough restful sleep has been shown in research studies to reduce pain and symptoms in people with chronic inflammatory diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism, Celiac disease, etc.. As well, there is increasing evidence that cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke are inflammatory in nature and that lowering risk is best managed through dietary and lifestyle changes. For those with a strong family history of heart disease, the Anti-Inflammatory Protocol dove-tails perfectly with a low-carb high healthy fat diet.
Knowing which foods promote inflammation and why and which foods are evidence-based to have anti-inflammatory properties and why is essential for those seeking to reduce pain and symptoms associated with a chronic inflammatory condition. Choosing foods that are nutrient dense, promote gut health, address diet-related disruptions in hormone-regulation and that target immune system regulation are key in the Anti-Inflammatory Protocol.
Nutrient density – Every system in the body, including the immune system requires an array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and amino acids to function normally. Micronutrient deficiencies and imbalances are considered key players in the development and progression of autoimmune disease, therefor attention is put on consuming the most nutrient-dense foods available. A nutrient-dense diet provides the ‘building blocks’ that the body needs to heal damaged tissues. The goal is to supply the body with a surplus of micronutrients to correct both deficiencies and imbalances, supporting regulation of the immune system, hormone and neurotransmitter production.
Gut health – It is thought that ‘gut dysbiosis’ (gut microbial imbalance) and ‘leaky gut’ may be key facilitators in the development of autoimmune disease. The foods recommended on the Anti-inflammatory Protocol support the growth of healthy levels and a healthy variety of gut microorganisms. Foods that irritate or damage the lining of the gut are avoided, while foods that help restore gut barrier function and promote healing are encouraged.
Diet-related Disruptions in hormone regulation – What we eat, when we eat, and how much we eat affects a variety of hormones that interact with the immune system. Eating foods with too much sugar or ‘grazing’ throughout the day, rather than eating food at set meals spaced apart deregulate these hormones. As a result, the immune system is typically stimulated. Promoting regulation of these hormones through diet, in turn has a modulating effect on the immune system. As well, dietary hormones that impact the immune system are also profoundly affected by how much sleep we get, how much and what kinds of activity we do, and how well we reduce and manage stress, so looking at diet and lifestyle together, is key.
Immune system regulation – Our intestines are home to millions of bacteria which live in symbiotic relationship with us. We provide food for them and when in balance, they maintain the integrity of the gut wall, which serves as a protective barrier. When our gut ‘flora’ gets out of balance, having an excess of pathogenic bacteria, this protective barrier becomes compromised, resulting in small ‘holes’ that permit exchange between the inside of our gut and the blood stream. This is what is called “leaky gut“. Endotoxins produced by the proliferation of “bad” bacteria can get into the blood stream, stimulating the immune system, and resulting in systemic inflammation. What becomes critical is to limit the factors that contribute to excess of the “bad bacteria” and restore a healthy amount and diversity of “good” gut microorganisms, so that the gut once again functions as a protective barrier, and immune system regulation is achieved.
What is the Anti-Inflammatory Protocol?
The Anti-Inflammatory Protocol identifies foods that promote inflammation from those that research indicates have anti-inflammatory properties. It isn’t simply a list of “eat this” and “don’t eat that”, but explains what about a particular food promotes inflammation or inhibits it. It explains the role of key inflammatory -producing compounds such as lectins, saponins and protease inhibitors, and which foods they are found in, and how eating those foods contribute to “leaky gut”. Which grains can one eat? Which should be avoided? What about beans and lentils? Are there some better than others?
The Anti-Inflammatory Protocol explains which healthy cooking and eating fats won’t contribute to the production of Advanced Glycation End-Products (AGEs) – and how this compound causes oxidative damage to the cells in the body. Knowing this enables people to know whether oils such as grapeseed for example, are a good choice and if not, why – as well as which other oils would be preferable.
I want people to understand in simple terms how omega 6 (ω-6) fats compete for binding sites and elongation enzymes with omega 3 (ω-3) fats, as this enables them to determine whether foods such as nuts and seeds should be included in an anti-inflammatory diet. If they understand the role of hormones such as insulin and what causes it’s release, they can determine for themselves whether products like agave syrup or coconut sugar are preferable to table sugar when following an anti-inflammatory protocol. I find that once people understand the theory as to why they should eat less of certain foods (explained in ways that don’t require an educational background in science!) and they also understand which types of foods they should aim to eat more of, they are empowered to make dietary choices that contribute to reducing inflammation, as well as symptoms, along with risk factors for other inflammation-related conditions.
I consider my primary role is as an educator. I don’t want to tell someone they need to eat this food on this day and this other food on the next day. It is far more rewarding and helpful to them, if I help them know how to make these decisions themselves.
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To our good health,
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