Studies suggest that the foods we eat may either increase or decrease inflammation in the body. According to registered dietician Lara Rondinelli-Hamilton, RD, LDN, CDE, many people can feel physical improvements in symptoms with healthy diet changes. Some people with spondylitis swear by certain changes in their diet and feel that what they eat (or do not eat) impacts their symptoms. Diets should always be discussed with a trusted doctor and, possibly, a dietitian to help ensure that trying the diet will not compromise your health.
The Nurse’s Health Study (2016) found that a “Westernized diet,” high in sweets, desserts, French fries, and refined grains resulted in higher inflammatory markers. Foods that can promote inflammation include sugar, refined starch (white bread, pretzels, crackers), processed foods, red/processed meats, some oils, and possibly gluten, dairy, and nightshades for some.
Meanwhile, certain foods can help decrease inflammation, and it’s recommended that these foods be consumed by those with inflammatory diseases. Vegetables are superfoods which contain vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Leafy greens high in phytonutrients and vitamins include spinach, kale, bok choy, arugula, mustard greens, and dark lettuces. Colored vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, beets, carrots, and red cabbage contain antioxidants that studies prove are protective against cancer, dementia, and cardiovascular disease. Cruciferous vegetables including cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts contain sulfur-compounds that may trigger anti-inflammatory responses. For people with chronic disease battling inflammation, it is recommended to consume 8-9 cups of vegetables per day.
How can we eat more vegetables?