Food as Medicine: Anti-Inflammatory Diet
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The anti-inflammatory (AI) diet is based on two traditional healthy patterns of eating that come from Asian and Mediterranean cultures. The combined pattern is thought to be one of the healthiest ways to eat.
Inflammation is the way that the body reacts to protect us and to help us heal. When inflammation continues for a long period of time, it can lead to chronic diseases. The AI diet, when followed daily, may decrease inflammation and lower a child’s risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer. It is used to maintain health. The AI diet is also useful as part of a broad approach to treat other chronic diseases linked to inflammation.
A well-planned AI diet can meet the nutritional needs of infants, children and adolescents. Please work with your registered dietitian or nutritionist to plan a pattern of eating that is best for your child.
The AI diet is high in fiber, which can make a child feel full quicker. Healthy foods with a higher fat content can be used to help a child meet their energy needs. These foods include: nuts and seeds, their butters, dried fruits, avocado, and fatty fish.
Protein needs can be met by eating lean white meats, fish, eggs, yogurt, cheese, milk and a variety of plant foods. Plant foods rich in protein include legumes, nuts, and seeds.
The main source of calcium is dairy products, like yogurt and natural cheeses. Children can also get calcium from dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, beans, oranges, almonds, figs, tofu, fortified milk alternatives, and fortified juices.
Iron is the most common mineral deficiency in all children. Good sources of iron include lean white meats, fish, beans, dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruit, whole grains, blackstrap molasses, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C, found in fruits and vegetables, helps the body absorb iron from these sources.
Animal products are the best sources of zinc. The body absorbs animal sources of zinc (such as meats, fatty fish, eggs, dairy products) better than plant sources. The anti-inflammatory diet is rich in the best plant sources of zinc: nuts, seeds, and legumes.
The body can make its own vitamin D with regular safe exposure to sunlight in summer months. There are few foods naturally rich in Vitamin D, including fatty fish and eggs. Foods fortified with vitamin D include: cow’s milk; soy, almond or rice milk; some brands of orange juice (check labels). Because the vitamin D content of fortified foods may vary, safe sun exposure and vitamin D3 supplements are the best sources of vitamin D.
|Food group||Suggested daily servings & serving sizes (for 4 to 10 year-olds)
Toddlers: use half serving
For teens: add more servings
|Vegetables and fruits
||4 or more servings of vegetables
3 or more servings of fruits
Oat, rice, wheat, barley, rye, quinoa, millet, corn, spelt, sorghum, teff, buckwheat
|5 or more servings
||2 to 3 servings
|Herbs and spices
Choose dark chocolate
Sugar substitutes: consider stevia, local honey, maple syrup
|Limit: sugar, margarine, soda, cakes, cookies, candy, juice, fruit drinks, sweetened beverages|