Here are some of my general anti-inflammatory dietary and lifestyle guidelines for you to incorporate into your daily routines. Remember you don’t have to do it all at once – make dietary and lifestyle changes gradually, so they become long-term habits!
- When possible choose organic, seasonal, local, non-GMO, sustainably fished and grown foods, and grass-fed animals and animal-products from animals raised and slaughtered in less stressful conditions.
- Maintain a more vegetarian-based diet (includes vegetables, fruit, grains and pulses). You should aim for a 70/30% vegetarian to meat-based diet.
- Avoid/Limit high histamine foods, including the night-shade family of vegetables especially if you have highly-sensitive, itchy skin, food intolerances or allergies. You can find a reliable list here: http://www.histamineintolerance.org.uk/about/the-food-diary/the-food-list/
- Avoid environmental and food-related toxins by:
- Avoiding food/drinks with artificial additives, preservatives, sweeteners (including corn syrup), colours, and prepacked/prewashed produce (unless organic)
- Drinking filtered or spring water instead of tap water (including for cooking)
- Eliminating toxic substances from your household and replacing these with non-toxic options. These include cleaning products, artificial air fresheners, talc and aluminum-containing deodorants. White (alcohol) vinegar, baking soda and Savon Noir are good alternatives as natural cleaning products (also see natural Hemp soap at http://naturalspasupplies.co.uk/shop-2/hemp-soft-soap-or-olive-soft-soap-heavy-duty-eco-friendly-cleaning/)
- Avoiding microwave ovens and microwaved foods, aluminum pots and pans or those containing Teflon or other such non-stick coating. Use stainless steel or ceramic-coated ones instead.
- Drink at least 1.5 liters of water per day (in addition to teas, juices, and other liquids)
- Eat all meals, even snacks, while seated and relaxed. Chew slowly and take time between bites of food. Drink liquids before or after a meal rather than during when possible.
- Try to eat 3 main meals within a 12-hour period (beginning to end of all meals), with 5 hours between each meal and no snacking in between. Prefer larger meals in the morning and lunchtime and lighter meals in the evening, especially if late. Aim to eat just one type of protein in each meal and ensure you get plenty of vegetables (or fruit/fibre for breakfast) at each meal.
- Eat foods that enhance detoxification. Generally increase amounts of vegetables in diet, especially the green, bitter and/or leafy variety.
- Try to avoid or lower consumption of wheat, gluten-containing and milk (especially cow milk) based products from diet. Try gluten-free breads or crisp-breads, and nut or seed-milk alternatives such as almond, hazelnut, hempseed, coconut, oat and rice milks.
- Increase healthy fats and protein intake (giving preference to lean meats, fish and vegetable proteins). Healthy fats include olive and coconut oils, nuts and nut butters, seeds and seed butters, flaxseed/linseed, avocado, organic eggs (including yolk), organic butter or ghee (clarified butter) from grass-fed cows, oily fish, and fermented soy products (miso, soy yogurt, natto, etc).
- Aim to eat about 25-30% of your diet from healthy fats and proteins, 35-45% from vegetables (and some fruit, primarily berries), 20-30% or less from low GI carbohydrates (such as ancient whole grains: brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet).
- Avoid refined carbs and sugars and sugar products including bread (including brown), pasta, sugar, milk chocolate, candy and candy bars, cakes, cookies, pop and fizzy drinks, fruit juices.
- Avoid deep fried and trans-fat foods such as chips, fry-ups, foods with hydrogenated vegetable oils (including margarine, non-virgin vegetable oils, peanuts). Choose oils from the Food List.
- Avoid yeast, yeast extract, pickled, tinned and smoked food. Fermented foods like fermented vegetables, miso, kombucha, kimchi, and others should be included but in moderation – and perhaps best avoided until you show signs of less inflammation.
- If you are craving sweets try alternatives with nut butters on a rice (or other gluten-free) cracker or vegetable sticks or a square (or two) of 80% dark chocolate. Use honey, dates (or date syrup), molasses or maple syrup as alternatives to sugar if you absolutely must add sugar (try your best to avoid)!
- When making condiments for salads avoid mayonnaise, ketchup, pre-made salad dressings, alcohol/wine vinegars and soy sauces. Use healthy oils, organic apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice.
- If you drink alcohol choose red wine (organic better) if possible and in moderation.
- Choose herbal teas instead of black tea or coffee, especially nettle, chamomile or cinnamon teas
- Upon waking in the morning (but at least 30 mins after brushing teeth), drink a half glass (25 cls) of room temperature water with the juice of ½ to 1 fresh squeezed organic lemon on an empty stomach. Wait at least 20 minutes before eating or drinking anything else. Alternatively you can use 1 tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar in water instead.
- Linseed water (especially for people with digestive system issues or dehydration): Put 1-2 tablespoons of whole flaxseeds/linseeds into a bottle of mineral water (or glass bottle filled with filtered water), leave it in the refrigerator overnight, strain in the morning and drink the water throughout the day. You can use the soaked seeds to add to breakfast porridge, smoothies, cereals. In addition you can also add some ground linseed and other seeds into your cereals, porridge, yogurt, etc. Linwoods makes good combinations of already milled seeds – this brand can be found in many organic and health food shops.
- Aim for a minimum exercise regimen of 20 minutes of brisk (heart rate increasing) walking at least 3 times a week, preferably in a park or other green space. Any additional exercise is a bonus, but think about including some functional strength training as well.
- If you have a sedentary job (sitting a lot), get up, walk, and stretch every 45 minutes or so. Try to take short walks at lunch and break times, outside if possible. Do something physical when you feel anxious or in the mood for something sweet or take a hot herbal tea of your liking (cinnamon (avoid in the evening), chamomile, ginger and mint are especially good options for you).
- Aim to fall asleep before midnight and especially to be asleep in the period between 12-3:30 am. Getting 7-8+ hours of sleep per day is ideal.
- Find ways to express any bottled up emotions/feelings, manage stress and encourage self-awareness. In addition to physical exercise, here are other suggestions you might try:
- Daily Emotional Review: at the end of the day, allow for some alone time to review your day in your mind from morning to evening from an emotional point of view. What people, events, things triggered emotions? Which feelings/emotions and why? Aim to “re-live” the emotion/feeling, staying with them and allowing any physical expression to arise: tears, throat sounds, even punching pillows. If it is too much to review a whole day, pick one emotion to focus on. Simply notice it and allow it to work through your body, paying special attention to breathing through them.
- Mindfulness or Breathing meditation: there are many resources available now online to teach you some quick and easy meditation techniques, which can be practiced anywhere. Some links to get you started: