I am fighting back against Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) with natural foods, stress reduction, and by embracing my inner flower child (making everything from scratch, and eating all those yummy natural foods)in addition to my medications. All of this is carefully balanced with my busy life as a homeschooling single mom of 2 boys, the exhaustion that RA brings, and a very limited budget. I would like to share my journey with you, so that it may benefit you as well, or give you a better understanding of what it is to fight this disease.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Anti Inflammatory Diet: Vegetables

As I have told you, my first step was to spend some time searching out which foods have anti inflammatory properties.  As you can guess, I am sure, most of these are vegetables, fruits, and spices.  Today, I will list vegetables.

As a perfectionist, I wanted to give you an exhaustive list, complete with a full bibliography.  As part of my effort to reduce stress, I will instead be giving you the list I compiled in my initial search.  I will not include a bibliography, as all of this information is found in several different sources.  I have included several links for you to follow for more detailed information.

At the very core of any anti-inflammatory diet are a variety of fruits and vegetables.  For me, the easiest place to start was in making sure that I included at least 2 fruits or vegetables in each meal.  There are very few vegetables that CAUSE inflammation, but the following list includes some of the foods known to have the biggest impact:

Shitake Mushrooms: Enjoyed by the Chinese and the Japanese since ancient times, shiitake mushroom is revered for its immune-boosting properties and its mild smoky taste. Also,  Maitake, enoki, oyster mushrooms.

Broccoli: a highly nutritious vegetable that contains anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer phytonutrients such as sulforaphane which helps the body to get rid of potentially carcinogenic compounds.

Cauliflower:. A close relative to broccoli, this cruciferous vegetable also contain similar goodness as broccoli that aids the body’s detoxification.

Sweet potato: is often overshadowed by other exotic vegetables and fruits. But it is also a good source of complex carbohydrate, beta-carotene, manganese, vitamin B6 and C as well as dietary fiber. Working in concert, these nutrients are powerful antioxidants that help to heal inflammation in the body.

Spinach: As an added bonus, spinach is very inexpensive, especially if you buy it in bunches rather than the fancy bags of prewashed baby spinach.  If you are cooking with it, it makes no difference to use the chaper stuff.  In salads, I will splurge on the baby stuff.  This dark green leafy vegetable is such a rich source of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative flavonoids and carotenoids that it’s almost impossible to believe. But it’s true. And here’s only a partial list: Vitamin A, B2, B6, C, E, K, calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese,potassium and tryptophan. But be sure to buy organic ones whenever possible as it’s also among the foods on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found.

There is a lot of mentions in anti inflammatory diet articles and books of nightshade vegetables and lectins.  I will go deeper into this topic later, but I think it is always better to start with small, attainable steps rather than trying to change everything overnight.  For now, just remember that vegetables should make up the majority of your intake, and that foods in their original, natural form are best.

Here are links to the articles where I found the information:

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