Counting calories, avoiding fats, miniscule portions, living with hunger—dieting is a drag and the majority of people eventually gain back the pounds they fought so hard to lose. Newer research shows sloth and gluttony aren’t necessarily to blame for excess weight, but instead inflammation, leaky gut, stress, and other health imbalances.
You’ll have better success if you eat with a focus on lowering inflammation, detoxifying the system, and meeting your nutritional needs. Many people take on anti-inflammatory diets to manage constant pain, digestive complaints, skin rashes such as eczema or psoriasis, an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and other chronic health problems.
People are surprised to find that not only do their symptoms fade but they also lose unwanted pounds. This is because excess weight can be a symptom of health imbalances, such as chronic inflammation, stress or leaky gut , a condition in which the lining of the gut becomes inflamed and porous, allowing inflammatory compounds into the bloodstream (see my blog post on leaky gut).
Weight loss through better health
An anti-inflammatory diet focuses on whole foods and is free of inflammatory foods. Although it may cut out many of your favorite foods, it does not require you to be hungry. In fact, hunger can work against you by increasing stress and causing low blood sugar. Taking certain herbs and supplements that gently cleanse and detoxify the body can boost the anti-inflammatory and weight-loss benefits of the diet. Ask my office for more details on supporting your success with nutritional therapy.
Anti-inflammatory diet basics that can lead to weight loss
Although anti-inflammatory diets vary, there are some basics to follow:
- Eliminate all processed foods, fast foods, desserts, coffee drinks, sodas, etc. These foods are designed to be addictive. Your anti-inflammatory diet should consist mainly of whole foods found in the produce and meat sections of the grocery store, with an emphasis on plenty of vegetables. Also eliminate processed vegetable oils and hydrogenated oils. Stick with natural oils such as coconut oil and olive oil.
- Eliminate common inflammatory foods. The most common culprit is gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and other wheat-like grains. Many people enjoy weight loss simply by going on a gluten-free diet. However, you may have developed an intolerance to other foods, including dairy, eggs, soy, and nuts. Eliminate these foods for about a month to see whether you react upon reintroducing them one at a time.
- Eliminate sweets. Sugars and sweeteners are inflammatory and a major culprit in excess weight. On the anti-inflammatory diet you will avoid all sweeteners, including natural ones such as honey and maple syrup. This helps curb cravings, stabilize blood sugar, lower inflammation, and eliminate excess fat. Enjoy fruit instead, such as berries.
- Some people may need to follow stricter versions of this diet, such as eliminating grains, foods with lectins, or nightshades. An anti-inflammatory diet can be tailored to individual needs, but the focus is on clearing out the junk and getting back to foods in their most natural state, with an emphasis on plenty of leafy green vegetables.
- Eat to satisfaction, but do not overeat. Overeating even healthy foods stresses the system and causes blood sugar problems. If you have an eating disorder or food addiction, you may need additional support for that.
- Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep promotes hunger, stress, and inflammation and is linked with obesity in studies. Sufficient sleep is a major inflammation-buster. And, of course, get regular physical activity, not to burn calories but because it is vital to good health. Overtraining, however, can cause inflammation and actually counteract your weight loss efforts (see my blog post Are You Working Out Too Much?).
Boost success with gut repair and detoxification
I have found adding in nutritional compounds to help repair a damaged gut, lower inflammation, support the liver, and gently detoxify the system is a wonderful way to boost weight loss and the powerful effects of an anti-inflammatory diet. I constantly have patients tell me they are eating more, working out less, and finally shedding unwanted weight. Ask my office for more information about a detoxification and gut-repair program.
Dr. Mark Flannery