How to Feel Better + A 5-Day Easy, Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plan (with grocery list!)
Are you sick and tired of feeling sick and tired? Does your body ache? Do you long for a nap every afternoon? Are you constantly battling another ailment? These everyday symptoms may be your norm but they don't have to be! Your body is communicating to you that your diet and overall lifestyle is just not working. And yes, health is complicated, but there is a simple way to transition from merely surviving to thriving.
What is the one common thread among major chronic diseases, not aging well, having increased pain and achiness and not feeling your best? Inflammation. I'm not referring to the kind we all know... that redness and swelling that stems from an acute injury or illness and actually helps the body heal. Acute inflammation is short-lived and is a critical protective mechanism for survival. No, I'm talking about chronic inflammation. This is the kind that hangs around waaaaay longer than it's welcome, is subversive, lacks a beneficial purpose and is more destructive than you can imagine. Chronic inflammation is involved in all of the following conditions and more:
Lupus and other autoimmune diseases
Atopic dermatitis (Eczema)
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
COVID-19 cytokine storms
According to the CDC, 78% of those over age 55 have at least one chronic disease, and 47% have at least two (3). And remember, inflammation is the driver of all chronic disease. So why, as we age, does our body become more susceptible to chronic inflammation? In youth, our bodies efficiently manage the balance between pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory compounds. In older age, pro-inflammatory factors escalate and tip the scale and there are not enough anti-inflammatory compounds to bring back the balance. In addition, three terms, cellular senescence, inflammaging, and autophagy, explain how our immune systems and biological functions change over time.
Cellular senescence - old cells become "stuck" in one phase of their cell cycle, don't die like they should, and continue to secrete inflammatory products.
Inflammaging - subtle, chronic low-grade inflammation that the body cannot heal/clear due to advancing age and downregulated autophagy.
Autophagy - this terms comes from the Greek word that means "to eat oneself" and is the body's natural detox process that clears away debris, bad proteins, old and damaged tissue, and more. As we age, there is much more housecleaning (autophagy) that must be done to keep us healthy but a sedentary and always-eating lifestyle downregulates autophagy. Not good at all!
Curious just how much of a role inflammation is playing in your health? Here's a list of labs to talk to your doctor about.
Labs/Biomarkers To Check Inflammation
C-reactive protein (hs-CRP)
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
The good news is there are well-researched strategies to reduce inflammation! I've listed my top recommendations below as well as included a 5-day meal plan to help you see how my nutrition recommendations can all fit together into a delicious, and simple plan. You can take this even one-step further and let me guide you the whole way. Book a 3-month custom health program today to receive a personalized action plan, meal plans with recipes and grocery lists, specific supplement dosage recommendations, advice and more, to finally help you feel better.
Curcumin - 500+mg/day (so much research on this bioactive compound! more effective than pain meds in some studies!) (4, 5).
Vitamin D - 1000+IU/day
Omega-3's - 2000+mg/day
Quercetin - 500+mg/day
Sleep - 7-9 hours a night
Manage Stress - Meditate/Pray/Enjoy Nature
Time-Restricted Feeding (TRF) - Aim for 12-16 hours overnight fasting daily (for example, 7pm to 9am)
Exercise - avoid high intensity exercise which can aggravate inflammation. A study from 2005 showed that just 3 days a week of 20 minutes of light/mod cardio + resistance training (8 exercises of 2 sets) improved inflammatory markers! (2).
Choose personal care products wisely - eliminate as many endocrine-disrupting chemicals and obesogens as you can. I discuss this in more detail in this post - Toxic Load and Cosmetics. Browse safer, cleaner Beautycounter products here (affiliate link). Use discount code CLEANFORALL20 for 20% on your first-time order.
The foods I recommend below have phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, and fats that help reduce inflammation, prevent increased inflammation and help the body engage in more autophagy.
cruciferous veggies (1,8)
dark leafy greens
omega-3 fats (fatty fish and pastured eggs)
berries & cherries
peppers (mild and spicy) (6, 7)
extra-virgin olive oil
>70% dark chocolate
fiberous carbs (like sweet potatoes with skin, quinoa, beans, lentils)
herbs and spices
simple and refined carbs (think white)
gluten - a protein found in wheat, rye and barley
food additives like polysorbate 80, emulsifiers, and carrageenan
trigger foods - I can help you follow an elimination diet to determine your specific trigger foods if you're not sure. Dairy may be worthwhile to eliminate.
And as a thank you to you, my reader, here is my simple, 5-day meal plan to help you start feeling better already! Download link is below the image. :) Enjoy!
Capsaicin, a spicy component of hot peppers, modulates adipokine gene expression and protein release from obese-mouse adipose tissues and isolated adipocytes, and suppresses the inflammatory responses of adipose tissue macrophages - PubMed (nih.gov)