What's on the menu? - 6 Foods to Help Control Inflammation
When you have an autoimmune (AI) condition, nutrition is one of the most important tools to help control inflammation. The right diet can lead to reduced flares, pain and fatigue, and can even help reduce the need for certain medications. But–wow!–sorting through nutrition advice for people with AI conditions can be a truly maddening experience. You get a whole lot of mixed messages, extreme suggestions and unsubstantiated claims. Everyone has an opinion. Who do you listen to and what will actually help?
People with autoimmune conditions have specific nutritional needs, and need professional, evidence-based guidance. That’s why Healthy Eating is one of our 7 Pillars of Care.
At Motto, our core nutritional goals are to reduce inflammation and increase the strength and resilience of your body. In addition, depending on your condition, we may also need to address one or more of the following:
Digestive side effects from medications
Increased prevalence of heart disease, diabetes, obesity & bone disease
Food, Inflammation and the Microbiome
Food is such a powerful tool in controlling chronic inflammatory conditions. But why? One core reason is that the foods we choose can push our bodies to either fire up inflammation, or to cool it down. Our dietary approach is based on an evidence-based, anti-inflammatory, Mediterranean diet, with some special Motto “twists” based on the most up-to-date research. We also aim for each person to have as diverse a diet as possible. This is because eating a diverse variety of anti-inflammatory foods is linked to a more diverse microbiome. In turn, a more diverse microbiome is linked to decreased inflammation. It’s a virtuous cycle.
A lot of dietary advice out there focuses on things to cut out, like gluten or dairy. We see a lot of people who have gone down this road, with mixed results. That’s because, while it’s right for some people to reduce or eliminate some foods, it’s certainly not right for everyone. And cutting out a lot of foods can even be detrimental because it reduces the diversity of our microbiome. Furthermore, dietary advice that focuses on what to cut out often ignores what we should be increasing in our diet.
The Motto Way
At Motto, our approach to nutrition is based on three core principles. In order to be truly effective, dietary strategies must be:
Evidence-based: We rely only on dietary approaches that are researched, clinically tested and work.
Personalized: We tailor a nutrition plan to you and your condition because no two people have the same needs.
Sustainable: Most people can make a few diet changes for a week, but how do you keep it up? We help you make step-by-step changes that stick for the long term.
In addition, our approach is team-based. You work with your Rheumatologists and Nurse Practitioner to discuss what role diet can play in improving outcomes and reducing your symptoms based on your particular set of conditions. Then, you meet with a Registered Dietician who does a complete nutritional assessment, and provides a clear diet plan tailored to your nutritional needs. And finally, your Health Coach helps you implement this plan in a way that works with your life.
So, what does eating the Motto way look like? Let’s take a peak at just a few examples of foods we love and how they combat inflammation, pain and damage in autoimmune conditions.
#1 Fermented foods like miso, yogurt, kefir and tempeh are natural sources of probiotics (good bacteria). This increases the diversity of our microbiome and strengthens our immune system. Since chronic inflammation is closely associated with an imbalance in the microbiome, this is a key strategy.
#2 Berries, especially blueberries, are super rich in polyphenols, particularly anthocyanins, which have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These reduce inflammation by suppressing and inhibiting the production of inflammatory markers in the body.
#3 Omega-3 rich fish like salmon, herring and anchovies are high in Omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These convert into compounds called resolvins, protectins and maresins, which can help restore our tissues after an inflammatory response. This is really important to protect against long-term damage.
#4 Walnuts are rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. They are also an excellent source of Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) , an omega-3 fatty acid that is linked to lower CRP (inflammatory) levels and improved biomarkers for high cholesterol & high blood pressure.
#5 Green leafy vegetables are a great source of fiber and rich in vitamins A, E and K, which are potent antioxidants. Quercetin, a flavonoid found in kale and broccoli, can decrease the symptoms related to arthritis by inhibiting the release of inflammatory markers.
#6 Spices like garlic, ginger, turmeric and black pepper and others have been used for centuries to promote health and are specifically indicated for people with autoimmune conditions. For example, Curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, reduces inflammation by inhibiting inflammatory mediators. A bioactive component of ginger, 6-gingerol, acts in many different ways to decrease inflammation, including inhibiting pro-inflammatory cytokines and reducing oxidative stress. This helps to ease muscle pain and other symptoms in arthritis.
Long story short: At Motto, we help you cut through the chaos of nutrition advice and implement a healthy eating strategy that is truly effective and right for you.