XYW Diet Part 1 - Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Welcome to the next installment in the XY Wellness Diet series. If you have not already done so, please first read the XY Wellness Diet Overview. We'll wait.
In this series, we will explore the following aspects of this highly effective and equally enjoyable approach to eating:
- Anti-inflammatory: minimizes gluten, dairy, and other inflammatory triggers.
- Cancer-fighting: is abundant in phytonutrients that actively inhibit cancer growth.
- Immune system boosting: is rich in antioxidants and immune system enhancers.
- Low-glycemic: is free of granulated sugar or low in refined flour.
- Pesticide-free: is organic when necessary, yet "conventional" when appropriate.
- Delicious: is fresh, local, top quality, vibrant, enzyme-rich, clean cuisine.
- Doable: for some it may involve a bit of learning, but nothing that you cannot easily master.
The XY Wellness Diet is a component of our integrative roadmap to help post-diagnosis men reclaim, rebuild, and renew their lives. Diet, exercise, stress management, smart supplementation, and expert support all together provide a daily opportunity to improve both prognosis and quality of life.
At the end of this series, we will then compile the installments into a single publication available to you as a free download, plus will include everything from easy shopping lists to simple recipes to easy techniques. Stay tuned, and stay hungry.
Today, we will discuss how certain foods contribute to the inhibition of inflammation.
What is inflammation? What causes it?
To understand the importance of anti-inflammatory diet, you first need to understand what inflammation is and what leads to it. Inflammation is your body's natural response to injury, infection, or a foreign invader (e.g., virus, bacteria, etc.) Although inflammation is necessary for healing, when it becomes chronic and/or gets out of control, it causes degenerative diseases. For example, any disease ending in "-itis" (e.g., prostatitis, arthritis, bronchitis, etc.) refers to an inflammatory condition.
Inflammation is a leading factor in the development of cancer, and has a number of different causes:
- Infections, including viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi
- Surgery (e.g., Radical Prostatectomy, Brachytherapy)
- Physical Trauma such as tissue damage due to collision, radiation (e.g., EBRT), burns, or frostbite
- Chemicals, in particular pesticides and household cleaning products
- High Blood Pressure
- High Estrogen levels
- Sugar and Processed Foods
- Free Radicals
- Chronic Fatigue
- Hypersensitivity Reactions, such as overly powerful allergic reactions
What does it mean to eat an anti-inflammatory diet?
Anti-inflammatory eating means minimizing or eliminating from your diet the various food-related triggers of inflammatory responses in your body. In order to accomplish this goal, we recommend the following:
- Minimize your consumption of gluten.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other grains. For men who are either sensitive or allergic to gluten, this protein is highly inflammatory.
Celiac disease is the most severe form of gluten allergy, and is a genetic autoimmune disorder. But gluten sensitivity can manifest with varying degrees of severity. Clinical evidence suggests that more than half of all those tested show signs of some level of gluten intolerance.
You can have your doctor test you for gluten sensitivity, but a more accurate and effective mode of assessment is through the elimination diet. This simply involves eliminating all gluten products and then gradually reintroducing them while monitoring any potential allergic reactions or discomfort such as skin rashes, stuffy nose, tiredness, mental fatigue, feeling of bloated-ness, or itchy skin.
Because blood tests are notoriously unreliable, and sensitivities can develop at any time, limiting your exposure to gluten is advisable even if you’re unsure as to your sensitivity to gluten. The easiest way to do this? Simply reducing your intake of simple carbs such as flour, which will naturally reduce your exposure to wheat gluten. But if you notice signs of sensitivity (or worse) the best course of action is to eliminate gluten from your diet altogether.
Be aware that gluten is hidden everywhere, especially in processed foods. Why? It is cheap. For example, even soy sauce or caramel sauce contain gluten. So be vigilant and on the lookout for these stealthy terms for or sources of gluten:
- Blue Cheese
- Brewer’s yeast
- Cereal binding
- Edible starch
- Hydrolyzed plant protein
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
- Malt flavoring
- Malt vinegar
- Modified food starch
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- "Natural" flavor
- Some spice mixtures
- Soy sauce
- Teriyaki sauce
- Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
- Wheat germ
- Wheat protein
The best alternative to gluten-filled packaged and processed foods are fresh, whole, naturally gluten-free foods. There are plenty of them!
That said, as awareness of gluten-sensitivity or intolerance has increased, so have the variety and quality of gluten-free packaged alternatives. Seek out any of these great options, to name just a few:
- Baking Mix: Pamela's Products or Bob's Red Mill
- Pizza Crusts: Udi's GF Thin Crust or WFM Bakehouse GF Pizza Cust
- Pasta: Trader Joe's Brown Rice Pasta or Bionatura Rice/Potato/Soy Pasta
- Crackers: Mary's Gone Crackers or Back To Nature Gluten-free
- Bread: Udi's GF Whole Grain or WFM Bakehouse GF Whole Grain
- Energy Bars: Picky Bars or Vega Sport Protein Bars
- Beer: Green's Endeavor or Brunehaut Bio Blonde
- Soy Sauce: San-J Tamari Wheat-Free
- Minimize your consumption of dairy.
The type of saturated fat found in dairy products makes dairy a common inflammatory food group. As with gluten, you may not realize that you are intolerant.
Research has also linked high dairy consumption to prostate cancer risk, not least of all due to the high levels of hormones found in most commercial dairy products. If you know or suspect that you are sensitive to dairy, work towards eliminating it from your diet. That fresh mozzarella or four-year-aged cheddar is not worth it when to keep in mind our goal of strengthening, not taxing, your body.
Be aware that dairy is hidden everywhere, especially in processed foods. Why? It is cheap. So be vigilant and on the lookout for these stealthy terms for or sources of dairy:
There are plenty of great substitutes for animal milk, including almond milk, coconut milk, and rice milk. In terms of cheese, sorry, but there are not what we consider to be great substitutes, but depending on your intended use (e.g., on crackers), there are some great alternatives to consider such as:
- Olive tapenade
- Baba Ganoush
The last one, Baba Ganoush, is simply fun to say. No matter what is bothering you right now (including this diet so far), say it 3 times out loud, and see what happens. Feeling better?
If your craving for dairy is strong, this may well be a sign that you are indeed sensitive or allergic to it since research shows that we frequently crave foods that we are allergic to. That said, in a pinch, we recommend the option of an unsweetened, all natural, nonfat, hormone-free, Greek-style strained yogurt such as FAGE.
- Minimize your consumption of conventionally raised meats.
Unfortunately, nearly all factory-farmed meats, including grain-fed, are injected or exposed to steroids and hormones. One of the many consequences of this is that these meats are high in arachodonic acid, which produces inflammation.
Look for the following when shopping for or ordering meat:
- Increase your consumption of anti-inflammatory foods.
We can effectively help to inhibit inflammation by consuming a diet rich in anti-inflammatory compounds such as NFkappaB and COX-2 enzymes. Doing so is actually easy. For example, find any excuse to add this wide variety of anti-inflammatory spices and herbs to your dishes:
- Red Chili
Also seek out foods that are abundant in Omega-3 Fatty Acids since these essential fatty acids not only inhibit inflammation, they:
- Lower cholesterol and triglycerides
- Prevent cancer cell growth
- Reduce high blood pressure
- Regulate food intake, body weight, and metabolism
Some great sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids include:
- Seeds and their oils, such as flax, grapeseed, and pumpkin oils
- Nuts and their oils, such as almonds, walnuts, and cashews
- Olives and olive oil
- Fish oils and certain fish, such as wild salmon, mackerel, and sardines
- When diet alone is not enough, supplement!
For a thorough overview on how smart supplementation choices can further boost your ability to inhibit or reduce inflammation in your body, please see the following:
We have complete control over what we put into our body. There are foods that will boost our ability to fight this disease, just as there are foods that will actively fuel the disease.
Over the next few weeks, we are going to explore together how to transform our diet into a powerful weapon against disease, and in the process introduce you to the joy of preparing and eating real food.
You can do this! We are here to help.