Spinal cord injury and inflammation: Navigating through today’s hottest diets

Category: Nutrition / Training Tips

Weight loss diets are all the rage right now.

I am sure you have heard of a few of them or maybe even tried one or two: The Paleo Diet, DASH diet, Atkins, Mediterranean diet and the Nordic diet to name a few. 

Keep in mind that no matter which diet you follow, it will most likely work;

but they work for a different reason than you may think.

It is not always the specifics of the diet itself that make them successful, but more from the consistency of actually following them. 

From afar, most generic diets are not actually all that different from one another.  For the most part, you will find that they are heavy on the vegetables and whole grains.

They have relative to high amounts of protein, and ‘good’ fat.

The one common denominator across all the diets?

Little to no refined sugars.

Now, this is all great when looking to apply these diets to the general population. However, when we start getting into neuro dysfunction like spinal cord injury or MS, we have other factors to consider like the role of inflammation in the body.

Unfortunately, not all inflammation can be helped in the body after neuro trauma has happened. What we can do though is alleviate some of it through our food choices.

Which of today’s hottest diets recommend anti-inflammatory foods?

 Let’s take a look:

  • Fats (with anti-inflammatory properties)

‘Good fat’ (as we call it) including Omega 3’s, monosaturated and polyunsaturated.

Recommended by almost all the diets

Foods to try: fish (especially fatty), fish oils, eggs, seeds and nuts, beans, oils such as olive or flaxseed, edamame, avocado and tofu

Fats to limit: Red meat and trans fats

 (These are found in the Atkins diet)

  • Fiber Rich Foods (studies show association with low inflammation levels in the body)

Foods to try: Beans, legumes, whole grains such as steel cut oats, barley, brown rice, quinoa, air popped popcorn

(Paleo diet does not allow any of these high fiber foods)

  • Alcohol (Red Wine)

Red wine has resveratrol which has been linked to the protection of our red blood vessels, thus acting as an anti-inflammatory.

The Mediterranean diet is very popular for just that reason; as they incorporate and even encourage the occasional glass of vino.

  • Spices (anti-inflammatory properties)

Choosing the right spices to add to your meals when you cook them at home.

Bonus: Spices are also calorie free and add tons of flavor!

Spices to try: Turmeric, Cayenne, Ginger, Cinnamon or Cloves.

To summarize, this information-filled blog wasn’t written to tell you which diet to follow or not (that is for your dietician to do!)

Instead, put it in your back pocket as a guideline in case you find yourself confused with all the fad diets out there.

Remember, it’s the small changes over time that accumulate and make the difference. If you are looking for some recipes or other diet and SCI fitness tips, please feel free to join our Ocean Rehab and Fitness’ private group on Facebook.

Your coach,

Megan Williamson

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