Food as Fuel: 20 Ways to Improve your Diet
On your journey to optimal health, as with your car, without the proper fuel, how can you hope to arrive at your destination? Moreover, upon arrival, will you be equipped to deal with what awaits you? A healthy, balanced diet gives your body nutrients. Nutrients are like fuel for your body. They give you energy. And they keep your heart beating, your brain active, and your muscles working. They also help to build and strengthen bones, muscles, and other body tissues. Read on to discover 20 ways to improve your diet.
Nutrition is a fundamental element of good health and is relevant to every person’s well-being. To date, most research into the role of nutrition in mental health has focused on the role of nutritional deficiencies and supplementation with single nutrients. However, a focus on the anti-inflammatory benefits of foods is becoming increasingly important in mental health, as studies accrue linking inflammation with stress, anxiety, and depression (Firth, 2019).
This shows that the old paradigm of physical and mental health as wholly separate considerations is swiftly falling away. What you eat affects how you think and feel in both the long term and the short term. In other words, whatever fuels your body, fuels your mind as well.
The Anti-Inflammatory Diet
The anti-inflammatory diet is an eating pattern that combines healthy components of traditional Mediterranean and Asian dietary patterns to maximize the healing potential of foods (Ricker, 2017). Both cultures traditionally offer foods associated with good health and longevity.
The Role of Inflammation
Understanding the role of inflammation in health emphasizes the power of nutrition to modulate the inflammatory pathways. Acute inflammation is an immunologically mediated process, necessary for the body to repair and heal itself. However, a chronic state of inflammation can lead to tissue damage, increased morbidity and increased mortality. Overwhelming evidence suggests that chronic inflammation is fueled by a variety of lifestyle elements, particularly diet.
Examples of illnesses associated with chronic inflammation include cardiovascular disease, obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, depression, arthritis, asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease (Romagnolo, 2017).
What is the fastest way to reduce inflammation in the body?
Some of the fastest ways to reduce inflammation in the body include eating an anti-inflammatory diet, exercising, and managing stress.
What are the worst foods for inflammation?
The worst foods for inflammation include sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, artificial trans fats, seed oils, refined carbohydrates, excessive alcohol, and processed meat.
20 Ways to Improve Your Diet
Here is a list of examples that you might consider when making dietary changes:
- Choose whole, unprocessed foods
- Shop at farmers markets
- Increase your daily intake of vegetables and fruit
- Begin or end each meal with a salad
- Replace sugary drinks with clean water and healthy teas
- Increase the quality of protein intake — add more plant-based proteins and consider the source and quality of animal proteins
- Add whole grains to the meal
- Eat more legumes
- Eliminate trans fat intake
- Use healthy fats in sensible proportions (emphasize poly and monounsaturated, with saturated fats in moderation)
- Include avocado, nuts and seeds in sensible portions
- Incorporate cold water fish like sockeye salmon
- Increase organic non-GMO whole soy foods
- Eat a variety of cooked Asian mushrooms
- Increase the use of spices, decrease salt
- Cook most meals with a quality organic, expeller pressed extra virgin olive oil
- Eat mindfully and consider portion size at every meal
- Discuss the anti-inflammatory diet with family members and involve them in healthy meal planning
- Find new easy recipes that adhere to the principles of the anti-inflammatory or Mediterranean diet and involve children in meal preparation
- Start a backyard garden or get involved in a school garden to reinforce the importance of organically grown seasonal vegetables
There are many more ways to improve your diet and begin eating a healthier, more anti-inflammatory diet. Choose one or two changes that will work best for you and use them regularly for two to three weeks. Don’t try to make too many changes at once.
In summary, the anti-inflammatory diet is an eating pattern that combines healthy components of traditional Mediterranean and Asian dietary patterns to maximize the healing potential of foods. Aim to eat more anti-inflammatory foods and less pro-inflammatory foods. An anti-inflammatory diet is a critical foundation for the prevention of long-term disease. Have fun finding ways to improve your diet!
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Disclaimer: The information provided through this Website is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. Always consult with your physician before beginning any exercise, weight loss, or health care program.
- Firth, J., Marx, W., Dash, S., et al. (2019). The effects of dietary improvement on symptoms of depression and anxiety: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Psychosomatic Medicine, 81(3), 265–280. doi:10.1097/PSY.0000000000000673
- Ricker, M. A., & Haas, W. C. (2017). Anti-inflammatory diet in clinical practice: A review. Nutrition in Clinical Practice, 32(3), 318–325. doi:10.1177/0884533617700353
- Romagnolo, D. F., & Selmin, O. I. (2017). Mediterranean diet and prevention of chronic diseases. Nutrition Today, 52(5), 208–222. https://doi.org/10.1097/NT.0000000000000228