The Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Improve joint health and overall well-being
By Katherine Spinks, RD

When caring for bones and joints, proper nutrition is the most basic component. Not only do bones and joints benefit from our good food choices, but the body as a whole reaches a more optimal level of functioning and homeostasis. The right nutrients provide the body with the necessary tools to prevent disease.

An anti-inflammatory diet is intended to protect cellular health by controlling systemic inflammation. Acute inflammation, such as the swelling that results from a trauma or injury, is part of the healing process. Systemic inflammation, on the other hand, is low level inflammation that occurs throughout the body and has been associated with autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus. It is largely responsible for aggravating osteoarthritis and other joint conditions and for increased risk of cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

A healthy anti-inflammatory diet need not begin with a long list of restrictions. You can start by simply adding calming foods and new combinations to begin to replace previous habits. The goal is to stabilize blood sugar, increase antioxidants, and ensure proper supplementation.

Stabilizing Blood Sugar

Stabilizing blood sugar is often thought to be of concern only to people with diabetes. However, everyone can benefit from knowing how food choices and food combinations affect insulin release in the body.

Replacing processed and refined carbohydrates with whole grains, and combining them with anti-inflammatory fats and proteins, will slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream and stabilize blood sugar, decreasing insulin release.

The glycemic index classifies foods based on their effect on blood sugar, but more important is the glycemic load, which is the blood sugar response to the combinations of foods eaten. Decreasing the glycemic load is a positive result of an anti-inflammatory pattern of eating.

Decreasing inflammatory fats and increasing omega-3 fats brings a calming effect to chronic inflammatory responses. It is important to begin replacing corn oil, safflower oil, and partially hydrogenated fats (found in margarine and shortening) with extra virgin olive oil and expeller-pressed canola oil or grapeseed oil.

Include avocados, walnuts, almonds, cashews, and other nuts and nut butters. Strive to decrease saturated fats in the diet by decreasing butter, cream, high-fat cheeses, and products made with palm kernel oil. Increase omega-3 fats by including fresh or frozen wild salmon, canned sockeye salmon, sardines, herring, black cod, omega-3-fortified eggs, hemp seeds, and ground flaxseeds.

Getting Enough Antioxidants

Antioxidants work as scavengers to root out the harmful byproducts of systemic inflammation. Eating a diet that is more plant-based and contains a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables will ensure that you have adequate antioxidant protection. A good rule of thumb is to eat fruits and vegetables from all colors of the rainbow. This will help increase antioxidant activity in the body, and is a consistent safeguard for cellular health.

Taking Supplements

Proper supplementation can fill in the gaps of dietary omissions, but supplements should not be used as a replacement for healthy eating practices. A personalized supplement program developed by a healthcare practitioner can aid the body in controlling the inflammatory process that leads to degenerative disease and causes joint pain and muscle stiffness.

Ostinol—which contains Cyplexinol, a bone morphogenetic protein complex—continues to prove itself in relieving discomfort for those with arthritis and other joint issues. In addition to treating the symptoms, Cyplexinol provides an immunosuppressive effect that controls the IL-1 pathway activation. IL-1 is a pro-inflammatory cytokine whose stimulation can cascade into an inflammatory response. Interrupting this process lessens the opportunity for the production of damaging cytokines and helps to promote continual improvement in joint health.

Other supplementation to discuss with a healthcare practitioner includes a multivitamin with high levels of B vitamins, fish oil, and vitamin D3. As with pharmaceuticals, supplements should be tailored specifically to the needs of the individual and should be monitored regularly for tolerance and efficacy.

Lifestyle changes are not always easy, but once you experience the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet, you may find renewed motivation. Eating fresh and wholesome foods that are enjoyable and energizing can reap great rewards, including improved joint health.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet Basics

Add more of these foods

• Fruits

• Vegetables

• Whole grains

• Beans and legumes

• Healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, and nuts and nut butters (walnuts, almonds, and cashews)

• Foods rich in omega-3s, including frozen wild salmon, canned sockeye salmon, sardines, herring, black cod, omega-3-fortified eggs, hemp seeds, and ground flaxseed

Avoid these

• Processed foods

• Refined carbohydrates

• Bad fats, including butter, cream, high-fat cheeses, and products made with palm kernel oil.