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9 Hacks That Make Calorie Counting A Breeze

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The way many people do it, calorie counting can sometimes be boring, laborious, and downright discouraging. But note that I said “sometimes,” not “always.” Controlling calories doesn’t have to be difficult, and it is perhaps the most powerful tool we have for troubleshooting nutrition.

Maybe you’ve never done it because it seems overwhelmingly complicated, but it can actually be quite simple. Use these easy tips to improve your eating habits and see results without getting bogged down in numbers.

1. Start With How You Actually Eat

No matter where your fitness journey takes you, the nutritional part of it should start where you are now. Create a simple meal plan based on the way you already eat, without making any big changes or thinking about calorie targets yet. Ignore the “daily goal” that apps or calculators will set for you, and don’t worry about BMR and TDEE equations yet.

Quick and Dirty Calorie Counting

Remember, we’re going quick and dirty. Just put together the amount of food you know will get you through the day. If you’re going to make any changes at this point, make them qualitative, not quantitative. In other words, stick largely to whole foods, eliminate totally junky processed items, and do your best to keep sugar fairly low.

2. Use an App

Thanks to modern technology, counting calories no longer has to involve much actual counting. Apps like MyFitnessPal calculate calories for you. You can also put foods together into meals, which is a huge time saver.

Have an activity tracker? Use the built-in calorie tracker that lets you see calories in versus calories out, not just totals. It won’t be 100 percent accurate—especially if you lift and use a basic tracker that just counts steps—but it will be inaccurate in a consistent way, giving you a reliable baseline.

But here’s the key: Be honest and log everything.

3. Identify Obvious Patterns

A common reason meal plans fail is that we tend to underestimate how much we consume during cheats. Maybe your “occasional treat” has become an everyday thing, or what you thought was 200 calories of Greek yogurt is more like 500.

Quick and Dirty Calorie Counting

It’s shockingly easy to more than double your calorie intake, which is why counting calories is so much more effective than just writing down what you eat in a food journal. If you see big spikes, consider finding different delicious foods to indulge in.

Inevitably, you will have days where you don’t stick to the template—whether it’s a planned cheat day or a spontaneous night out with friends. Pay attention to what else is going on when you eat more than you planned. Do wings and fries always come after beer, despite your best intentions? Alcohol impairs our ability to make good food choices, so it might be worth limiting the days you drink.

If you find you’re not eating enough to stay satisfied on a day-to-day basis, look for places to add some satiating protein and healthy fats to your template.

4. Establish Your Baseline, Then Adjust

After tracking your intake for a few days, you’ll probably see it fall into a consistent range. This is your baseline.

If you feel good sticking to the plan, (you aren’t too hungry, and you aren’t seeing any changes in your body composition) the template you’ve created is close to your true caloric maintenance needs. From here, you can play around with things.

Think you need to cut calories? Try reducing your portion sizes, or look for places you can swap oils, nuts, dairy, or grains for less calorie-dense options. Hungry all the time? You might not be eating enough. Try raising your baseline or throwing in an occasional refeed day.

At this point, you can designate targets for daily calorie totals. Try shooting for 100-500 calories below or above your baseline, and see how it makes you feel. If you use an activity tracker app, you can decide on a goal range for your daily calorie deficit or surplus.

5. Build Around a Few Core Meals

Trying to figure out the exact ingredient measurements for each meal and writing it all down can make calorie tracking time consuming. A more time-efficient approach is to structure your diet around a few essential meals that are easy to track and prepare the same way every time. This helps remove the guesswork and cuts down on data entry.

Quick and Dirty Calorie Counting

No, this doesn’t mean you have to—or should—eat the same thing all the time. Far from it! But having a basic lineup of meals with numbers and ingredients you know by heart makes everything easier.

It might sound boring, but you could even try to eat the same thing daily for a while. Doing this means you’ll only have to enter 3-6 meals into the app once. And speaking from personal experience, the repetition can be satisfying if you pick things you like to eat.

Don’t try to be too perfect, though. Healthy eating shouldn’t be about depriving yourself. If having a slice or two of cheese at lunch helps you get through the day, do it.

6. Get Familiar With Pre-portioned Foods

When it comes to switching from eyeballing your portions to measuring them, pre-portioned foods can be a lifesaver. I’m not talking about single-serving bags of chips, but the rule that food needs to come without nutrition labels to be nutritious isn’t always true.

Yes, packaged foods often cost a bit more than bulk produce or meat, but if you ain’t got time for #mealprepsunday, choosing healthy pre-packaged items can save you time and energy. Their nutrition content is marked right on the package, and they’re probably already listed in your app’s food database. Good picks to help kick off your meal-prep journey include individual packets of nuts, protein bars, chicken sausages, burger patties, jerky, canned tuna, sliced deli meats, eggs, protein powder, and single-serving cups of guacamole, hummus, and peanut butter.

Quick and Dirty Calorie Counting

Once calorie tracking stops feeling like a struggle, you can start making more meals from scratch. Initially, though, your goal should be to avoid getting overwhelmed by doing what makes life easier.

7. Have Your Staple Meals Pre-loaded in Your App

This is a serious pro tip! If you know what you’re going to eat, logging it the long way is time better spent elsewhere. Save your meals, and all you have to do is click on “Breakfast” to autofill your oats, protein powder, and eggs. Some apps will even let you autofill an entire day.

Over time, you may change some aspects of your meals, but memorizing the essentials and knowing their numbers will help you learn to eyeball food portions, which will help you stick to your approach over the long term.

8. Don’t Just Focus on Calories

Weight loss has a lot to do with calories, but other factors are also important. Use your app to monitor your fiber intake, and consider tracking your water intake, too. Getting more of both of these can make a big difference in how full you feel, even while eating the same number of calories.

Quick and Dirty Calorie Counting

Once you’re on top of calories, play with your macros and question your habits. Do you need those almonds in your oatmeal to stay full until lunch? What happens if you replace them with protein powder? Are your carb refeeds on point, or are they more like saturated-fat refeeds?

This is where a boring, repetitive meal plan can work for you. Changing one variable at a time will let you know pretty quickly if it’s going to help you or hurt you.

9. Finish the Job and Move On

Once you’ve fine-tuned your template and started seeing your body composition move in the right direction, look at what made the difference and integrate that information into a long-term, sustainable template. Create some alternative meals in your app and become a master at prepping your portions. Maybe you could even stop counting.

That’s right; quit counting! You can always go back to it occasionally, to make sure you’re still on track or to reassess if you plateau, but you should be able to stop using your app daily as your previous eyeballing technique becomes more on point.

Think of it this way: The skills you build through understanding the numbers are far more important than the numbers themselves.



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Your Expert Guide To Ginseng

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Ginseng is found in all kinds of supplements that claim to do everything from slowing aging to increasing male virility. Not surprisingly, given those claims, it’s an incredibly popular supplement—and has been for thousands of years! But does the science back it up?

What is Ginseng?

Many plants have been marketed using the ginseng name, but most experts agree that only Panax ginseng (Asian ginseng) and Panax quinquefolius (American ginseng) are worthy of the name “ginseng.”

Other herbs with similar benefits are occasionally referred to as “imposter ginsengs,” including Siberian (eleuthero), Brazilian (suma), Indian (ashwagandha), and Peruvian (maca) ginsengs, just to name a few. Despite this “impostor” title, ashwagandha and maca have both become popular ingredients in their own right in recent years.

Asian ginseng has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years and is often referred to as the “king of herbs.”

In fact, Panax ginseng gets its name because of the herb’s many reported benefits. The genus “Panax” translate as “cure-all,” (“pan” means “all” and “axos” means “cure” in Greek). The word ginseng, on the other hand, means the “essence of man,” likely because the roots are thought to be in the shape of a human.[1]

What Does Ginseng Do?

Asian ginseng is most often used to provide a stimulating action on the body, while the American form is used for enhancing recovery and calming. Chinese herbalists refer to these two very different actions as either providing a “hot” or a “cool” effect on the body, or balancing of one’s yin and yang. There are more modern, scientific ways to describe the difference as well, though.

Your Expert Guide To Ginseng

Asian Vs. American Ginseng

The opposing actions of the Asian and American varieties have much to do with the ratios of active ingredients within the different forms of the herb. These active ingredients are referred to as ginsenosides, and the most abundant varieties in Asian and American ginseng are known as Rg1 and Rb1.

Higher Rg1 to Rb1 ratios of these ginsenosides, as is common in Asian ginseng, has been shown to stimulate the central nervous system. This explains why this form of ginseng is often used in energy-enhancing products.

Conversely, the higher ratio of Rb1 to Rg1, common in the American variety, explains why this form is more often used in products that support recovery and calming, lowering blood glucose, or reducing stress. This type of ginseng is often called an “adaptogen.”[1-4]

What are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens help the body “adapt” to stress and bring it back into balance, whether that stress is physical, chemical, or biological. Adaptogens lower stress hormones when they are too high, or raise them when they are too low.[5] The same effect is believed to apply to anabolic and catabolic hormones (such as testosterone and cortisol), the immune system, and any number of the body’s systems that may need to be brought back into balance.

This may help the body to become more resilient and better able to handle stress. Examples of stress imbalances include increasing your workout intensity, emotional stress from issues at work or home, or perhaps even environmental stress like pollution.

However, if an adaptogen works to bring your stress response back into balance, you shouldn’t expect it to make you superhuman or be effective long term. Once your body is back into balance, there isn’t much left for the adaptogen to do.

Plus, because there’s no official list of adaptogenic herbs and no committee that selects which ingredients may or may not be called an adaptogen, there are a lot of products marketed as adaptogens with limited evidence to support the title.

What are the Health Benefits of Ginseng?

Energy and Performance

A recent scientific assessment of all human studies on the use of ginseng concluded the herb can improve fatigue, energy, and motivation. However, the authors’ review of the data showed there was no evidence that these benefits actually improved athletic performance.[6]

Your Expert Guide To Ginseng

An earlier review reported similar findings, suggesting that between 200-600 milligrams of either ginseng type seems to raise mental energy and cognition, but not improvements in physical performance.[7]

It’s possible that poor ingredient standardization, both in products and in studies, is responsible for some of the inconsistencies in studies and results. However, the more immediate takeaway is that ginseng isn’t likely to make you more physically dominant during your training, but you may feel slightly better during it.

Muscle and Exercise Recovery

As an adaptogenic herb, ginseng might help you recover better from exercise. This is especially true if your exercise program shifts in intensity, or provides a unique stress that your muscles and body are not used to.

For example, using 20 grams of Asian ginseng daily, for seven days, was shown to greatly reduce muscle damage and exercise-induced inflammation in college-aged men.[8]

Antioxidants

Similar to [turmeric](https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/your-expert-guide-to-turmeric.html), another popular herbal remedy, ginseng is also thought to have powerful antioxidant properties. Exercise, aging, high-sugar diets, environmental toxins, chemicals, and stress increase the production of oxidative free radicals within your body. Too many free radicals can cause cell damage and lead to premature aging, metabolic issues, and poor exercise recovery.

A large number of animal and cell (in vitro) studies found ginseng to lower or reverse oxidative damage.[9] Although human research is limited, a 2011 study reported that four weeks of supplementation at just 2 grams per day reduced markers of oxidative stress in healthy people.[10]

The take-home message is twofold. First, if you’re going to take ginseng to help you through a physically or mentally stressful phase, start taking it beforehand, not during. Second, a dose of just 2 grams per day can give you these antioxidant benefits. As long as you’re using a quality supplement, even a little bit can have a positive effect.

Can Ginseng Help You Lose Weight?

Most human studies say no, but the possible weight-loss benefits are still being studied. In animal and cell studies, extracts of this herb have been shown to affect appetite and metabolism, and stimulate fat-burning pathways.[11]

Of the limited human studies, one showed 8 grams per day of Asian ginseng helped obese women lose weight. The researchers concluded this was because it improved the healthy bacteria profile of their digestive systems.[12]

If ginseng is effective for helping you manage your weight, this may be a result of the herb’s ability to help manage blood glucose. A statistical review of studies concluded that doses of 200 milligrams to 20 grams per day of either Asian or American ginseng lowered fasting blood glucose in healthy, non-diabetic people.[13]

The bottom line is that more controlled clinical trials with concrete evidence are needed to confirm this herb’s ability to help you shed some extra pounds, so set your expectations accordingly.

Your Expert Guide To Ginseng

Are There Any Side Effects of Ginseng?

A scientific review of human studies concluded that Panax ginseng is safe. Doses ranged from 100 milligrams to 60 grams, with one study assessing the effects of 1 gram per week for three years. The most common doses used were 2-6 grams per day.

Some people in the studies had side effects like hot flashes, trouble sleeping, and digestive discomfort, but these side effects happened just as much to those taking a placebo.[14]

How Much Ginseng Should I Take?

Most botanical experts recommend taking 1-3 grams of ginseng root per day.[15] For short periods of high stress, such as big changes in your training intensity and volume, you should be safe if you double or triple the dose for a short period of time, such as 3-6 weeks.

How Should I Take Ginseng?

Since ginseng is an adaptogen, you may get better results if you cycle on and off of it every so often. For example, begin using the herb as you lead up to a change in your training or diet, then stick with it for up to six weeks while your body adapts to the new stress.

To get American ginseng’s potential weight-loss effects and help reduce blood glucose, take it before or with meals.

References
  1. Yue, P. Y. K., Mak, N. K., Cheng, Y. K., Leung, K. W., Ng, T. B., Fan, D. T. P., … & Wong, R. N. S. (2007). Pharmacogenomics and the Yin/Yang actions of ginseng: anti-tumor, angiomodulating and steroid-like activities of ginsenosides. Chinese Medicine, 2(1), 6.
  2. Zhang, L., Virgous, C., & Si, H. (2017). Ginseng and obesity: observations and understanding in cultured cells, animals and humans. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 44, 1-10.
  3. Lockwood, C. (2014). An Overview of Sports Supplements. In J. Antonio, D. Kalman, J. R. Stout, M. Greenwood, D. S. Willoughby, & G. G. Haff (Eds.), Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements (pp. 459-540). NY: Humana Press.
  4. Antonio, J., Kalman, D., Stout, J. R., Greenwood, M., Willoughby, D. S., & Haff, G. G. (Eds.). (2009). Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements. Springer Science & Business Media.
  5. Wagner, H., Nörr, H., & Winterhoff, H. (1994). Plant adaptogens. Phytomedicine, 1(1), 63-76
  6. Bach, H. V., Kim, J., Myung, S. K., & Cho, Y. (2016). Efficacy of Ginseng Supplements on Fatigue and Physical Performance: a Meta-analysis. Journal of Korean Medical Science, 31(12), 1879-1886
  7. Oliynyk, S., & Oh, S. (2013). Actoprotective effect of ginseng: improving mental and physical performance. Journal of Ginseng Research, 37(2), 144
  8. Jung, H. L., Kwak, H. E., Kim, S. S., Kim, Y. C., Lee, C. D., Byurn, H. K., & Kang, H. Y. (2011). Effects of Panax ginseng supplementation on muscle damage and inflammation after uphill treadmill running in humans. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 39(03), 441-450
  9. Kitts, D. D., & Hu, C. (2000). Efficacy and safety of ginseng. Public Health Nutrition, 3(4a), 473-485
  10. Kim, H. G., Yoo, S. R., Park, H. J., Lee, N. H., Shin, J. W., Sathyanath, R., … & Son, C. G. (2011). Antioxidant effects of Panax ginseng CA Meyer in healthy subjects: a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 49(9), 2229-2235
  11. Zhang, L., Virgous, C., & Si, H. (2017). Ginseng and obesity: observations and understanding in cultured cells, animals and humans. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 44, 1-10.
  12. Song, M. Y., Kim, B. S., & Kim, H. (2014). Influence of Panax ginseng on obesity and gut microbiota in obese middle-aged Korean women. Journal of Ginseng Research, 38(2), 106-115
  13. Sievenpiper, J. L., Djedovic, V., Cozma, A. I., Ha, V., Jayalath, V. H., Jenkins, D. J., … & Vuksan, V. (2014). The effect of ginseng (the genus panax) on glycemic control: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials. PloS One, 9(9), e107391
  14. Kim, Y. S., Woo, J. Y., Han, C. K., & Chang, I. M. (2015). Safety Analysis of Panax Ginseng in Randomized Clinical Trials: A Systematic Review. Medicines, 2(2), 106-126
  15. Dharmananda, S. (2002). The Nature of Ginseng from Traditional Use to Modern Research. ITM.



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Your Expert Guide To Chia Seeds

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Chia is a superfood that packs a huge nutrient punch. It’s popular for its infusion of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, and protein.[1] It also has a lot of vitamins and minerals. Here are all the facts on the seed you need.

What is the Macronutrient Profile of Chia?

One ounce of chia seeds contains about 140 calories. It provides 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat, and 12 grams of carbohydrates. Ten grams of the carbs are fiber.

What are the Health Benefits of Chia Seeds?

Fiber

Chia’s high fiber content might help you stick to your healthy-eating plan. Fiber is a bit of an unsung hero in the American diet and is seriously lacking in many individuals. Most people consume only half of the 25 grams recommended.[2]

Fiber can help to control appetite, making you feel more full for longer so you eat less throughout the day.[2]

Although eating more fiber in general has been proven to help people lose weight, the jury is still out on chia. Research has found conflicting evidence in using it for weight loss in overweight individuals. More research needs to be done for chia’s weight-management benefits, but it appears to have potential for this purpose.[3, 4]

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fat phobia is on the wane in health and fitness circles. People are increasingly realizing there are many forms of fat that do different things in the human body.

Chia seeds contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a short-chain omega-3 fatty acid.[2] ALA is an essential fatty acid that we can only get from certain plants.

This fat is highly researched and has been found to be a healthy addition to the diet. Chia has been found to increase ALA markers in the blood.[3]

Protein

Chia seeds contain a decent amount of protein and 18 of the 20 essential amino acids.

Your Expert Guide To Chia Seeds

It’s not enough to support a high-protein diet, but could be beneficial in adding a little extra protein and fiber, along with a significant amount of fat.

Think of it like peanut butter. Peanut butter has some protein, but a lot more fat. Similarly, chia contains protein but is a more significant source of healthy fat.

It still could make a good supplement for people who don’t eat meat by increasing protein and B-vitamins that are difficult to obtain from plant-based foods.

Vitamins, Minerals, and Antioxidants

Where chia seeds really shine is their micronutrient profile. They contain calcium, phosphorous, manganese, magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper.[5] In fact, the seeds contain higher amounts of calcium, phosphorous, and potassium than milk.

Calcium is a mineral responsible for many muscular and skeletal actions in the body, especially maintaining bone mineral density. When calcium is lacking in the diet, the risks of stress fractures and osteoporosis are higher.

Chia is also an excellent source of B vitamins, with more than many cereals and oats. It’s a great choice for those with celiac disease or sensitivities to wheat.[5]

Along with its amazing vitamin and mineral benefits, chia has earned a spot in the superfoods list through its antioxidant activity.[6] Its antioxidant properties are responsible for a number of activities in the body, including protection against both free-radical damage and other fats that could become rancid and harm the body.[5]

Energy Benefits

Among chia’s boatload of nutrients and antioxidants is caffeic acid, an antioxidant found in our dear friend coffee. Don’t let that name fool you, though. Chia seeds do not actually contain caffeine.[7]

Antioxidants, however, may in fact reduce fatigue and decrease exercise-related inflammation. So, between chia’s antioxidants, fiber, and healthy fats, you’ll get a nice cocktail of energy-producing nutrients to help you forge through your day.[8]

Your Expert Guides To Chia Seeds

What are the Side Effects of Chia Seeds?

Chia seeds are considered safe and a great supplement to the diet. There are no side effects from chia seed consumption, other than mild gastrointestinal discomfort from too much fiber if you eat too many of them.

Is Chia Better Than Flax?

So, which is better in a super-seed face-off: chia or flax seeds? The answer is…it depends. As with other dietary recommendations, your goals and personal preferences will dictate the answer.

In a 2-tablespoon serving, chia has lower overall calories, higher fiber, higher carbohydrates, and double the calcium and selenium of flax. On the other hand, flax seeds have higher magnesium, potassium, folate, copper, vitamin B1, and slightly more of the important omega-3 fatty acid ALA.

Chia and flax have around the same amount of protein, making them both great choices. In the end, chia is much more versatile when used in recipes and can stand on its own, while flax is a great addition to shakes and other recipes.

How Do You Eat Chia Seeds?

Much like flax seeds, the best way to receive the nutrients of chia is to crack open the outer shell. This cannot be done by chewing alone. Grinding or soaking the seeds will yield the best results.

To receive the most nutrients out of the seeds, soak 1.5 tablespoons in 1 cup of water for 30 minutes to 2 hours. You can also grind or pulverize the seed for ingestion. It can serve as a substitute for flour in some recipes when ground.

Try this tasty nutrient-packed seed in smoothie bowls, sprinkled on top of salads, or added to a shake with your favorite fruit and protein powder!

Your Expert Guide To Chia Seeds

How Many Chia Seeds Should You Eat?

There is not a recommended daily allowance for chia seed intake. A 1-ounce serving can meet almost half of your daily fiber requirements and give you a vitamin and mineral boost.

Eaten alone or added to recipes, 1-2 servings of chia should expose you to the benefits of this mineral-packed, energy-supporting superfood.

Where Can You Find Chia Seeds?

These little black seeds were once used by Aztec tribes for medicine and energy. Now you can buy them at most grocery or health-food stores. Look for them in the natural foods section or bulk bins.

Chia Seed Recipes

Wondering how to use chia in your diet? Check out these recipes and tips:

References
  1. Ixtaina, V. Y., Nolasco, S. M., & Tomas, M. C. (2008). Physical properties of chia (Salvia hispanica L.) seeds. Industrial Crops and Products, 28(3), 286-293.
  2. Slavin, J. (2013). Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits. Nutrients, 5(4), 1417-1435.
  3. Nieman, D. C., Cayea, E. J., Austin, M. D., Henson, D. A., McAnulty, S. R., & Jin, F. (2009). Chia seed does not promote weight loss or alter disease risk factors in overweight adults. Nutrition Research, 29(6), 414-418.
  4. Tavares Toscano, L., Tavares Toscano, L., Leite Tavares, R., Surama Oliveirada da Silva, C., & Silva, A. S. (2015). Chia induces clinically discrete weight loss and improves lipid profile only in altered previous values. Nutricion Hospitalaria, 31(3).
  5. Muñoz, L. A., Cobos, A., Diaz, O., & Aguilera, J. M. (2013). Chia seed (Salvia hispanica): an ancient grain and a new functional food. Food Reviews International, 29(4), 394-408.
  6. Reyes-Caudillo, E., Tecante, A., & Valdivia-López, M. A. (2008). Dietary fibre content and antioxidant activity of phenolic compounds present in Mexican chia (Salvia hispanica L.) seeds. Food Chemistry, 107(2), 656-663.
  7. Taga, M. S., Miller, E. E., & Pratt, D. E. (1984). Chia seeds as a source of natural lipid antioxidants. Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society, 61(5), 928-931.
  8. Mach, J., Midgley, A. W., Dank, S., Grant, R. S., & Bentley, D. J. (2010). The effect of antioxidant supplementation on fatigue during exercise: potential role for NAD+ (H). Nutrients, 2(3), 319-329.



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Design Your Diet To Fight Chronic Inflammation

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People talk a lot about inflammation these days: What it is, where it begins, what consequences it produces, and of course, how you can fight it. Depending on who you’re listening to, it’s either an unavoidable part of modern life—and the modern diet—or something you can control or avoid.

After doing a lot of research and experimentation, I find myself in the middle. In other words, I believe you have some power over inflammation, but you have to be serious and methodical in how you approach it.

It’s All About The Gut

For me, fighting chronic inflammation begins in the gut. Gut health relates to effective digestion and absorption of the foods and nutrients we eat, as well as the overall health of the gastrointestinal tract. This isn’t limited to your stomach, but includes your large and small intestines and colon, too. These are some of the largest organs and systems in your body, so you can’t expect to make significant impacts with just tiny changes to your lifestyle.

However, the payoff can be significant. When you do not maintain positive gut health, inflammation is the body’s natural response.

What Are Some Signs of Inflammation In The Body?

  • Weak immune system
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Symptoms of autoimmune diseases
  • Poor sleep
  • Low energy
  • Weight gain
  • Poor digestion and bloated belly
  • Constipation and overall irregularity
Design Your Diet to Fight Chronic Inflammation

Yes, that’s a lot of symptoms, and most of us have experienced at least a few of them. That doesn’t mean you are experiencing chronic inflammation. But, if any—or several—of these conditions are your norm rather than the exception, you have nothing to lose by taking a good look at your diet.

How we treat our digestive system determines not only how well our body digests and absorbs nutrients, but also how well it resists inflammation. Simply put, our health starts with what we eat.

Different foods can trigger inflammation within our bodies, and getting down to the root cause of your inflammation is key to creating a meal plan specific to your body that brings about improved health.[1,2]

Food allergies play a prominent role in the inflammatory response, as do processed foods and foods high in sugar. Many of us consume inflammation-causing foods and don’t even realize it.

Which Foods Are Anti-inflammatory?

An anti-inflammatory diet is more about what you don’t eat than what you do. That said, the foods you eat can have a tremendous impact on your gut health and reducing inflammation, so choosing whole foods naturally low in sugar is a great place to start. For certain people—but not everybody—this may also involve eliminating dairy products.

Simply put, just eat real food! A solid beginning for an anti-inflammatory diet is composed primarily of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, plant- or animal-based protein, and hypoallergenic grains such as rice and quinoa. There’s more room to customize for taste than you might think!

The idea of eating whole foods for better health is not new. You may have heard of the paleo or Mediterranean diets, both of which promote the health-enhancing benefits of eating minimally-processed whole foods.

Regardless of the label you put on it, eating simple, largely unprocessed food is key for reducing inflammation and improving gut health. If you are already eating a diet based mostly on whole foods and still have symptoms, you may consider a visit to a food specialist or allergist to dive a bit deeper into what is initiating your symptoms.

References
  1. O’Keefe, J. H., Gheewala, N. M., & O’Keefe, J. O. (2008). Dietary strategies for improving post-prandial glucose, lipids, inflammation, and cardiovascular health. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 51(3), 249-255.
  2. Shahidi, F. (2009). Nutraceuticals and functional foods: whole versus processed foods. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 20(9), 376-387.



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