The Anti-Inflammation Diet with Norma Jean Flood
The terms “anti-inflammatory” and “anti-inflammation” have become the latest go to phrases for what we should aim for in ultimate health…but what exactly do they mean? And what is inflammation anyway?
Recently we had Norma Jean Flood, MS, RD as a speaker at The Ranch discussing this very topic. The answers might surprise you. Essentially, inflammation is what our body produces when it’s under stress like in the case of an illness or injury. Ever notice when you get a spider bite and the bite gets red and inflamed? Well, that means our body is fighting the venom and the result is inflammation. In this case, inflammation is a good thing. It means our body is trying to rid the poison from us. The problem is when inflammation becomes chronic. Unfortunately in this day and age, the foods we eat and our daily stresses have actually begun to cause chronic inflammation and the result is disease.
Examples of chronic inflammation in forms of disease:
- Crohn’s Disease and Celiac Disease: inflammation of the gut.
- Lupus: inflammation of the joints, lungs, heart, kidney, and skin.
- Other examples are heart disease, Graves disease, diabetes, and cancer.
When the body is in flight or fight all the time, the body starts attacking itself.
Causes of inflammation:
- Exposure to toxins
- Chronic infection
- Genetic predisposition
- Obesity (when you have more fat cells, you tend to become more inflamed)
- Food allergies
Just a note to consider. Food allergies have risen sharply in U.S. children from 1997-2011. Food has also changed dramatically since GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) were introduced in 1996. Coincidence?
More about GMO’s:
- Have not been tested on humans.
- GMO foods can create unpredictable, hard to detect side effects.
- The USDA spent 1.8 billion on biotech research from 1992-2002 of which only 1% went to safety testing.
- Studies link GMO’s to stomach and reproductive inflammation in pigs.
- The most common GMO foods are corn, soy and canola oil (made from soy).
Norma Jean recommended staying away from corn and soy completely. Even organic corn and soy are at high risk for being contaminated because of cross pollen contamination. Also, corn and soy are in almost all processed foods. Another reason to eat whole foods.
So what can we do? Well, even though being healthy these days can seem a little complicated, it’s totally doable. And the good news is that once you have the basics down, it’s a lot easier to navigate what’s actually healthy for you and what needs to be avoided.
The basics of the Anti-Inflammation Diet from Norma Jean Flood, MS, RD:
- Olive oil, coconut oil, and nut oils
- Nuts, seeds, coconut, and avocados
- Sparingly: butter, cream
- Avoid: Trans-fats (hydrogenated fats and palm kernel oils in processed foods)
- Supplement fish oil when Omega-3 is low
- Primarily as beans, lentils, omega-3 fish (salmon, tuna, sardines) and nuts (esp. walnuts and almonds)
- Grass-fed beef and bison
- Organically fed poultry and eggs
- Organic yogurt and kefir
- Smaller portions: cheese
- Smaller portions: grain-fed animals
- Primarily brown rice, quinoa, sprouted wheat, amaranth, whole oats, bulgur wheat, etc (note that fiber is the toothbrush for our intestines to sweep the toxins out and decrease harmful bacteria)
- High fiber, whole grain cereals
- Smaller portions: wheat flours, white flours and sugars
- Avoid high fructose corn syrup
Fruits and Vegetables
- All fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably organic
- Juices in moderate portions as 100% juice (fresh is best for antioxidants)
- Organic yogurt and kefir (preferably low in added sugar)
- Organic tempeh, miso; soy sauce and tamari in smaller portions
- Supplement probiotic if needed
These are the basics for achieving an anti-inflammation diet. You’ll notice a huge change in your energy and health if you stick to the guidelines above.
Norma Jean Flood does nutritional counseling for disordered eating. You can learn more about her services at her website, www.normaflood.com.