“Why am I so stiff and sore all the time?” A question many people ask themselves on a daily basis. Some think it’s just part of getting older. And while age does play a role in joint stiffness, a larger factor may be inflammation.
Inflammation is the body’s response to things it doesn’t like: viruses, bacteria, injury, and sometimes, food. Certain foods are known as pro-inflammatory. Like the name suggests, they promote inflammation in the body, which can lead to pain, loss of energy and even more serious problems like arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.
Which foods should you avoid?
- Dairy: milk, cheese, ice cream, and so on. Dairy products are not only pro-inflammatory, they are mucogenic, meaning they increase the production of mucus. The exception in the dairy family is yogurt or other cultured products like kefir. Cultured diary contains probiotics, which are bacteria that aid your body in digestion. It’s generally a good idea to have a one serving of cultured dairy a day.
- Sugar and simple carbohydrates: sugar speaks for itself. Stay away from sugary sodas, sports drinks and candy. Simple carbs are things that contain refined flour, like white bread, bagels, pretzels, etc.; as well as white potatoes (and potato chips).
- Red meat: cow can be delicious, but it also promotes inflammation.
While these foods should be avoided in large quantities, it doesn’t mean you can never have milk in your coffee again; or a bagel with cream cheese; or a nice, juicy ribeye with creamed spinach and sautéed onions. Exercise common sense and eat these things occasionally. They should be the exception, not the rule – a treat.
Now that you know what not to eat, what is actually good for you? There are many anti-inflammatory foods which are very good for your overall health.
- Fruits and vegetables: raw or steamed, you can pack in as many veggies as you like. If you cook them in oil, or worse yet, boil them, you lose a lot of the beneficial aspects. And obviously don’t make a healthy salad and then drown it in creamy dressing. Beans (a.k.a legumes) contain large amounts of protein and fiber. And while fruits contain sugar, they also contain a lot of vitamins and fiber, which are very good for overall health.
- Whole grains: while white bread is bad for you, whole grains like oats, barley, brown rice and quinoa are high in fiber and vitamins.
- Fish and chicken: fish, especially cold-water fish (salmon, halibut, etc.) are excellent sources of omega fatty-acids (the good fat) and protein. Chicken is generally considered neutral – while not as good for you as fish, it isn’t as bad as red meat.
In addition to eating well, there are a few other steps that can lead to decreased inflammation in the body:
- Keep your weight down
- Exercise regularly
- Drink plenty of water
- Manage stress
Before making any major dietary changes, consult with your chiropractic physician to ensure you are choosing the foods that are right for your body.