Feeling stressed? What are you eating? Most of us reach for comfort foods when we are stressed, such as cookies, cake, candy and other high sugar, low fiber foods. These foods are not good choices to prevent chronic inflammation from developing and affecting our body. High levels of chronic inflammation are believed to cause rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease. Even low amounts of inflammation can increase your risk of obesity and the effects of aging. Prolonged chronic inflammation increases our risk of cancer, heart disease and other diseases. One study on postmenopausal women found that those eating a healthier diet reduced their risk of death from any cause by 60% and had an 88% reduced risk of death from breast cancer.
What should we eat to avoid inflammation building up in our body? Three eating patterns provide reliable assistance along with allowing individual choices of food. Those three eating patterns are the USDA Dietary Guidelines, the Mediterranean Diet and DASH Diet. Each of these has some differences but all three emphasize certain patterns.
All three eating patterns encourage us to eat:
• Plenty of vegetables and fruit.
• whole grains
• Low-fat or Fat-free Dairy
• Seafood and plant proteins
They also encourage us to reduce eating:
• Empty calories including foods with added sugar, or drinking excess alcohol
• Refined grains
• Saturated fat foods
• High sodium food
What would a daily eating plan include?
• Vegetables – 2 to 4 cups
• Fruits – at least 2 cups a day
• Whole grains – 3 to 4 ounces a day
• Fish/Seafood – 8-16 ounces a week for Omega-3
• Nuts and soy – 4-6 ounces a week
• Olive oil – 1 -2 Tablespoons a day.
• Dairy (1% or skim) – 1-3 cups a day
• Alcohol – 0-1 drink a day
Limit the amount of red and processed meats you eat to less than 12 ounces a week and keep added sugars to less than 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men a day.
Make it a goal to eat lots of fiber by eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains and nuts. This will increase the anti-inflammatory properties from these foods. Add some garlic, onion, pepper and other herbs for additional anti-inflammatory properties.
Author: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension
Reviewer: Cheryl Barber Spires, R.D., L.D., West Region Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed
Orchard, T. . Eating healthy under stress: improving diet quality to lower chronic inflammation. webinar for Your Plan for Health, Ohio State University