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A Vegan Anti-inflammatory Diet: What You Need to Know

As you begin to learn more about your body as well as listen to what your body needs, you may start to recognize signs that certain foods aren’t doing you too well.  There might be bloating, irritability, or you might even to see an increase in stubborn belly fat.   

These are all classic signs of inflammation.  Generally, inflammation occurs because damage has been done to the body.  For example, think about your skin.  When you get a cut, what happens? First your body bleeds to rinse the area, and then the cut and the skin around it become warm.  This is because your body is rushing nutrients to the area and protecting the area with extra fluids.   

Normally, this is a-okay.  Not something to worry about!  However, the problem occurs when inflammation continues over time, especially systemic internal inflammation.  Internal inflammation is caused by eating foods that create this reaction in the body.  Sugars, preservatives, some GMO foods, nightshades and more will all cause some sort of inflammation in your body. 

This type of chronic inflammation can be deadly and lead to chronic diseases such as things like arthritis, diabetes, obesity, gut issues, and more! 

If you are ready to combat inflammation in one of the tastiest ways possible, then it’s time to investigate a plant based anti-inflammatory vegan diet. 

Introduction to a Vegan Diet 

Before we dive further into inflammation and the foods you want to eat and to avoid, it’s important to understand what a vegan diet is and how this differs from a vegetarian diet. 

Vegan diets do their best to or completely avoid any animal foods and animal byproducts.  Now, that is both the eating habits and lifestyle habits of someone who is vegan.  If you are looking to try this diet for the health benefits, then we suggest slowly but surely phasing out the animal product items in your diet. 

But how does this differ from vegetarian? Glad you asked!  Vegetarian diets can still include some types of meat, when necessary (body building, or a particularly strenuous day), some include eggs and others still include honey and more animal byproducts.   

The reason that the vegan aspect of an anti-inflammatory diet is important is due to how this diet not just clears out inflammation but can also be a rockstar diet for those with autoimmune disease.  Plant based diets have massive amounts of antioxidants, ancient grains and oils, a lack of processed sugars, and a lack of anything that might cause inflammation. 

Something to also keep in mind is that the diet that we will talk about takes out any nightshades.  Nightshades are known to cause inflammation in those with autoimmune issues.  For the purpose, of this blog, nightshades are going to be a big no no! 

 

What is Inflammation  

Inflammation is a powerful natural response that your body uses to heal.  As soon as something breaks the skin or damages your body internally, cells are going to quickly signal to one another that inflammation is needed to protect the body.   

The negative of inflammation is when it just won’t go away.  The same cells that were called to start signaling for inflammation and the cells that started flowing to the hurt area to help heal are now constantly on alert.  Even though these cells are a part of your body, that doesn’t mean that they can’t hurt you.   

 Another thing to keep in mind is that inflammation can and will happen to everyone.  Event those who work out intensely every day are going to experience high amounts of inflammation.  The easiest way to combat any of this inflammation is by essentially eating your medicine.  Fruits, veggies, nuts, grains, and more are going to really help balance inflammation in the body. 

 

What happens when inflammation backfires? 

According to Kris Carr 

“The more time [the inflammation cells] spend in circulation—because you’re eating inflammatory foods throughout the day, for example—the more opportunity they have to damage your blood vessels and lead to a heart attack, or destroy cartilage and cause rheumatoid arthritis, or alter DNA and change healthy cells into cancerous cells.” 

That is how serious chronic inflammation can be.  Most inflammation can lead to cancers, diabetes, asthma, and more chronic disease that are a result of inflamed parts of the body. The even bigger danger? We can become accustomed to inflammatory reactions such as mood changes, pain, swelling, bloating, and even weight gain  

The scariest part of inflammation is that the substances that cause it are all around us.  From unsaturated fats, frying oils, sugars, preservatives, and other additives can all cause inflammation at multiple levels.  Most of these foods also increase the presence of free radicals in the body which bounce around constantly damaging cell walls. Source: medicalnewstoday.com 

Getting Started with a vegan anti-inflammatory diet 

Most anti-inflammatory diets are going to still include a lot of meats if they are lean meats.  On the flip side, the vegan anti-inflammatory diet removes as many inflammation causing foods as possible.  Keep in mind that there may be some foods that you are allergic to, and these can also cause an inflammatory response.   

Make sure that you don’t eat what is going to give you an allergic reaction! 

Anti-inflammatory Diet Tips 

Changing over to a new diet is going to be difficult.  If you are already on an anti-inflammatory diet, then maybe not as much.  For those who are avid meat eaters, start phasing out red meat to more white meats then start phasing out white meats to more plant-based meats.  It can take anywhere from a month to several months to be able to transition to plant-based meat substitutes.  Here are some more tips: 

  • Shop the rainbow 
  • Replace fast food or takeout the meals that were prepped ahead of time 
  • Replace sodas with sparkling water or coconut water with no inflammatory agents. 
  • Talk to your doctor about any supplements you might need 
  • Include moderate exercise (at least 30 minutes a day) 
  • Get at lest six hours of sleep  

What Foods to Eat  

The following food groups are going to be broken up into grains, veggies, fruits, herbs, spices, fats, and proteins. We’ll also have a quick section on what not to eat! 

Grains 

  • Brown rice 
  • Quinoa 
  • Barley 
  • Steel-cut oats 
  • Amaranth 

Veggies  

  • Kale 
  • Spinach 
  • Collard greens 
  • Swiss chard 
  • Watercress 
  • Cauliflower 
  • Broccoli  
  • Brussels sprouts  
  • Green beans 
  • Sweet potatoes 

Fruits 

  • Blueberries  
  • Raspberries 
  • Blackberries 
  • Strawberries Cherries  
  • Watermelon 
  • Apples 
  • Pineapple 
  • Papaya 
  • Guava 
  • Mango 
  • Goji Berries 
  • Golden Berries 

Herbs and Spices 

  • Turmeric/curcumin  
  • Green tea  
  • ginger  
  • Black tea  
  • Rosemary 
  • Oregano 
  • Fenugreek 
  • Caraway 
  • Anise 
  • Cocoa 
  • Mint 
  • Clove 
  • Coriander 
  • Cinnamon 
  • Nutmeg 
  • Red chili powder 
  • Lemongrass 
  • Fennel 
  • Saffron 
  • Black pepper 
  • Parsley 
  • Sage 
  • Dill 
  • Bay leaf 
  • Basil 
  • Aloe 

Proteins and Fats  

  • Walnuts 
  • Cashews 
  • Almonds 
  • Peanuts 
  • Hemp seeds 
  • Pumpkin seeds  
  • Almonds  
  • Olive oil 
  • Coconut oil 
  • Lentils 
  • Chia Seeds 
  • Seitan 
  • Tofu 
  • Tempeh 
  • Grapeseed oil 
  • Flax oil/seed 

 

What not to eat 

  • Processed foods 
  • Foods with added sugar or salt 
  • Canola Oil 
  • Safflower Oil 
  • Frying oils 
  • Processed carbs 
  • Processed snack foods 
  • Premade desserts 
  • Excess alcohol 
  • Gluten 
  • Nightshades 
  • Carbohydrates 

Will a Vegan Anti-inflammatory Diet Actually Decrease Inflammation? 

The quick and easy answer is YES!  We are fortunate enough to have access to many different types of foods whether or not you purchase them at an organic market or the local 99c store.  Colorful fruits and vegetables were our ancestor’s best indication of nutrition and even now, it is the same concept.  When going to the grocery store, check what is most colorful with what you have learned and there you have it!  A vegan, anti-inflammatory diet.