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Healthy You

Can the Anti-Inflammatory Diet Help You?

Wednesday, March 11, 2020 7:53 AM

By: Lauren McRae

You’ve probably heard of it, you’ve probably had it recommended and you’ve probably even searched the web for what it means: the anti-inflammatory diet.

It seems, however, that while everyone knows what is right for you, no two sources agree. Some eliminate nightshade vegetables, some eliminate gluten and a new dietary villain is being discovered in the news each week. It is not surprising then that just as not one size, medication, or style fits all, your requirements will be unique to you.

Anti-inflammatory Diet

Diana Sandler, MD, Rheumatology at NorthShore, shares what some examples include:

  • If you truly have documented celiac disease or sprue, you have to avoid all products containing gluten (including gum and lipstick) in order to avoid perpetuating inflammation at the brush border of the gastrointestinal tract—failure to do so can result in decreased absorption of nutrients and vitamins as well as increase the risk for certain cancers.
  • If you have gout, your diet should be low in purines, which are byproducts of DNA metabolism. These include: organ meats such as liver, shellfish, aged anything, caviar and alcohol (beer seems to be the worst offender.) All fruits, vegetables and coffee are allowed.
  • If you have rheumatoid arthritis or another type of connective tissue disease, the best strategy seems to be achieving a healthy weight since that may reduce the number of medications you need and help avoid the progression of degenerative osteoarthritis.

Exercise in any amount is thought to be anti-inflammatory regardless if it helps achieve your target weight because it seems to invoke the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response.

At the end of the day, no internet source or well-meaning neighbor can know the strategy that’s right for your unique situation. Unless you have a specific directive, I tell my patients to shop only in the perimeter of the store:

  • Start with the produce section – potatoes and corn do not count as vegetables.
  • Avoid the shellfish, bakery and alcohol sections if you can.
  • The middle of the store is allowed for tea/coffee, spices and oils.
  • Avoid spur-of-the-moment purchases in the checkout aisle.

If you need additional information or have questions, contact your primary care physician.