Eating specific foods can help your body reduce inflammation and aid in the healing process and pain management. This is a perfect compliment to the variety of physical and occupational therapy strategies we offer at IRG. With our holistic view of how the body works, we can help you be your best self by offering both nutrition services and PT/OT services in tandem.
Virtual grocery store tour for anti-inflammatory foods with Julie Mahler, MS, RDN, CD
Berries and your health
Tasty and nutritious, berries have many benefits to offer. They are a good source of fiber, antioxidants (flavonoids) and phytochemicals (plant chemicals that are active in our bodies). Berries are often called "superfoods" and can help to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. If you are concerned about the sugar content in most berries — don't be. The intact structure of the berry together with with plenty of fiber slows digestion and offsets any potential harmful effects of the small amount of natural sugars.
Try fresh, frozen and dried berries in a variety of ways:
- Parfait: Layer plain yogurt with berries, granola, nuts and seeds.
- Cereals: Top hot and cold whole grain cereals or overnight oats with berries.
- Pancakes and waffles: Mix berries into whole grain batter and/or serve them on top instead of syrup.
- Salads: Add berries to salads for a punch of flavor and color.
- Fruit spread: Blend or mash into a spread for whole grain toast and sandwiches.
- Granola: Dried berries bring natural sweetness and unique texture to granola, granola bars and trail mixes.
- Frozen yogurt: Blend frozen berries with plain yogurt for instant frozen yogurt.
- Infused water: Put crushed, fresh berries into your water pitcher overnight to lend flavor.
- Plain: Berries in any form are great on their own.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are two types of omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown in clinical studies to lower triglycerides, reduce risk of blood clots, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and decrease risk of stroke. Salmon, herring, sardines, anchovies, mackerel, shad, trout and whitefish are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids — tuna is a pretty good source as well. Fresh, frozen, or canned choices as well as flavored packets are all nutrient-rich and convenient options. You only need a three-ounce portion of these sources two to three times per week to receive the recommended amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Be sure to read nutrition facts labels to opt for lower-sodium items.
If eating fish is not for you, try consuming a fish oil supplement daily that contains one gram of DHA or EPA or a combination of both. Enteric coated fish oil capsules or high-quality "burpless" versions can help to combat a fishy aftertaste. There are also versions available that use algae or flax oil instead of fish that are suitable for vegetarian or vegan diets.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch is a helpful resource to utilize in finding sustainability information regarding the fish that you consume.
Incorporate omega-3 fatty acids into your diet with the following recipes:
- Sheet-Pan Chili-Lime Salmon with Potatoes & Peppers from Carolyn Casner via Eating Well
- Salmon Caesar Salad Grain Bowl from Stacie Hassing, RDN, LN via The Real Food Dieticians
- Pesto Salmon from Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD
Chia seeds and flaxseeds
All seeds are nutrient-dense and contain protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Flaxseed and chia seeds are the types of seeds that decrease inflammation the most. You can eat chia seeds right out of the bag or soak them in water for ten minutes prior to consuming. As for flaxseed, it is best to grind these up prior to eating as our digestive systems cannot break down the hard outer later very easily. You can use a coffee grinder or a blender to grind them up or you can find pre-ground flaxseed meal. Flaxseed meal is convenient, though it is best to store the bag in the refrigerator to preserve the omega-3 fatty acids.
Incorporate as little as one tablespoon of these seeds into smoothies, energy balls, oatmeal, cereal, tea and baked goods for a nutritious and satisfying addition.