Cardiovascular disease. Obesity. Diabetes. Cancer. Autoimmune diseases. Neurodegenerative diseases. Psychiatric illnesses. What do all of these chronic diseases seem to have in common? Inflammation! Let’s discuss how an anti inflammatory diet can play a big role in managing inflammation.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is an important bodily process in the short term. Acute inflammation can help us fight off infections, heal from an injury, or recover from a burn. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is what contributes to the chronic diseases mentioned above.
Our modern environment exposes us to inflammatory substances often. While there is multiple offending factors, one that has become more prevalent in the past several decades is the substitution of inflammatory oils in our food supply overriding the benefits of an anti inflammatory diet.
Over the past century, omega 6 fatty acids has dramatically increased, while omega 3 fatty acids (which are considered a big part of an anti inflammatory diet) has decreased.
Omega 6s in “whole foods” are not the concern. The main offender is the addition and substitution of inflammatory oils in our food system. These show up as cooking oils in restaurants and homes, as well as the packaged products that line the supermarket.
Omega 6s are very unstable fats when exposed to heat. This leads to oxidation of these fats, which can have damaging effects on the body. One may think “just don’t heat these oils”, however the process needed to make these oils involves heating at extremely high temperatures, chemical solvents, deodorizers, bleaching agents, and many other steps that result in nutrient poor, oxidized, and rancid oils that are not favorable for our health.
Originally these were added to reduce cost, extend the shelf life, and be “heart healthy”, however, they have replaced seemingly healthy fats and left us with nutrient-poor, oxidized oils that are causing more harm than good. Now, this isn’t meant to instill fear in going to a restaurant or buying food at the grocery store. Rather, I want to help people become more aware of what they are putting into their body to optimize their health and have an anti inflammatory diet
Steps to reduce inflammatory oils:
1. Read your food labels at home for inflammatory oils.
2. Become aware of the common foods with inflammatory oils.
3. When you run out of a food with these oils, consider swapping it out for a product with a more stable oil.
4. Swap your cooking oils for more “traditional” fats – butter, ghee, animal fat, coconut oil, avocado oil, or olive oil.
5. Don’t overwhelm yourself with everything at once. Inflammatory oils are just 1 piece of the puzzle. Replacing a few products a month is a great step!
If you find reading a food label overwhelming or navigating the grocery store in general, know we are here to help you! If you are interested in getting more inflammatory oils out of your diet, let us help you meal plan or book a 1-1 session!