When I was first diagnosed with gluten intolerance almost two years ago, it came as a real shock to me that I could possibly be having trouble digesting wheat - which was my absolute favorite food staple. I knew that some of my favorite foods (cheese danishes!) were not the healthiest, but I attributed that to their saturated fat or sugar content and never suspected the grain or gluten.
At that time, my doctor/nutritionist talked with me about the silent, chronic inflammation taking place in my body in the form of autoimmune thyroiditis. He explained how important it was for me to avoid the foods that caused inflammation in my gut, so that I could heal and reduce my TPO antibodies which were at that time off the charts.
Everything he said proved to be true - I followed his dietary and supplement suggestions and experienced a complete and perfect healing. Since then, I've been fascinated by what I've read about internal inflammation, and the foods that can help protect a person from silent long term inflammation that triggers serious diseases including heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer's.
The basic premise of the anti-inflammation diet is fairly simple. To protect your health, it is recommended that you:*
- Eat a variety of whole grains plus fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts daily.
- Indulge in the leaner meats, preferably chicken and fish.
- If you must have red meat (like me!) consider buffalo or the leanest possible cuts of beef.
- Stay away from saturated fats, processed foods, most dairy and sugar.
- Make sure to get a good helping of Omega-3s every day, and don't forget that diet is only part of the picture.
- Exercise and work on reducing your stress level
I have to admit, I was a little concerned at first about the emphasis on eating a "variety of whole grains". Since my diagnosis with gluten intolerance I have typically turned to rice in its many forms to meet my refined carbohydrate needs. Apparently I've been ingesting my fair share of empty calories. Still, other than quinoa, I haven't spent a lot of time experimenting with other gluten free grains.
So... it's time for us to learn more about buckwheat, steel cut oats processed in a dedicated gf mill, and sorghum. I also need to focus on cooking for my family with brown rice rather than the nutrient-poor white kind.
I'm pleased to report to my gluten free readers that the anti-inflammation diet seems to go along very easily with a typical gluten free repertoire. So far, following the guidelines hasn't required much change - just a heightened focus on where my food supply is coming from (do they use pesticides?) and the need to cook with less butter and cream.
This morning, inspired by my readings about the anti-inflammatory qualities of egg whites and turmeric, I decided to throw together a quick and delicious anti-inflammation breakfast hash. I'll probably keep experimenting with this one... use a little minced fresh garlic perhaps. Still, if you're looking for a quick and tasty meal that will give you lots of energy while reducing any hidden inflammation I think you will like today's result.
Anti-Inflammation Breakfast Hash
What You'll Need:
2 egg whites, combined with a fork (preferably from Omega-3 eggs)
3 oz of tinned trout in olive oil (salmon would be even better!)
1 large handful of rinsed baby spinach (preferably organic)
Turmeric (to taste)
Black pepper (to taste)
How It Works:
Heat a non-stick saute pan over medium heat for about a minute so that heat is distributed. Add the tinned trout in olive oil and use a wooden spoon to break up the larger chunks. Before the olive oil begins to bubble, add the two egg whites to the trout mixture and stir it all together into a hash. Remove spoon and allow to cook for a minute. Egg will begin to change color. Next, sprinkle in turmeric and black pepper to taste. (I personally use a big dash of turmeric and a small dash of pepper.) Stir well into the rapidly cooking egg/trout mixture. Finally, add the baby spinach leaves and integrate them well into your hash. Cook for approx 30 seconds to 1 minute until the spinach begins to wilt. Turn off heat under pan and allow it to sit undisturbed for about a minute to allow the flavors to set. Especially wonderful if eaten immediately...
To add a special anti-inflammatory "ooomph" consider serving with:
- a side of fresh fruit
- sliced fresh tomatoes
- a mug of green tea
*Guidelines from The Complete Idiot's Guide to The Anti-Inflammation Diet by Christopher P. Cannon, M.d. and Elizabeth Vierck