Be good to your gut on keto!
Did you know one of the best ways to reduce chronic inflammation is not with medicine, but actually from the food we eat? Simply put, inflammation refers to your body’s response of fighting against things that cause it harm. Chronic inflammation happens when this response lingers, resulting in a negative impact on our immune system and eventually leading to the development of several diseases, such as:
- Type II Diabetes
- Heart Disease
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Poor gut health
- Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia
The right foods matter.
What you eat can largely impact inflammation in both a positive and negative way, and a well-formulated ketogenic diet is a great tool to help minimize inflammation. Keto naturally reduces some of the most inflammatory foods like refined sugars and carbohydrates, but as with any diet, certain foods are healthier than others.
Quick, tell me more about fat: Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are both very important dietary fats that are essential in our diet and offers multiple health benefits to our body. However, it is important to get the right balance.
With regards to inflammation, omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation, while omega-6 fatty acids, although essential to our health, can drive up inflammation if too many are consumed. The Western diet is significantly higher in omega 6 fatty acids than omega 3s. For more info, read how not including fat on your keto diet could be a big mistake!
Choose the keto foods to help reduce inflammation.
Let’s take a look at some of the best foods to eat on a keto diet that can help minimize chronic inflammation. These foods help to reduce inflammation either due to their rich source of antioxidants and/or omega-3 content. In addition, many of these foods also contain other anti-inflammatory compounds like fiber and phytonutrients (aka chemicals found in plants that help fight inflammation). Just be sure to track the carbs, as many of these contain (minimally) trace amounts of carbohydrates.
- Fatty fish: salmon, sardines, mackerel
- Nuts: macadamia nuts, walnuts, almonds
- Cruciferous and green leafy vegetables: broccoli, kale, spinach, chard, mustard greens
- Pasture-raised eggs
- Grass-fed/finished Beef
- Healthy oils: olive, avocado, coconut
- Berries: raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries
- Dark chocolate: aim closer to 100% dark
- Spices: ginger root, garlic, and turmeric
- Beverages: green tea
Limit or avoid these foods which increase inflammation.
As stated previously, certain foods can also negatively impact our health by increasing inflammation. The foods below may drive up levels of inflammation due to their effect on blood sugar and insulin levels (high glycemic index), or how they may impact the bacteria of the gut. Many processed and refined foods are also much higher in omega-6 fatty acid content, resulting in increased levels of inflammation.
- Processed, packaged foods (even the keto-friendly ones)
- Refined sugars/grains
- Starchy vegetables: potatoes, corn, peas
- Refined vegetable and seed oils (high in inflammatory omega-6s): corn, safflower, soybean
- Excessive alcohol consumption
Inflammation plays an important role in our body’s process to try and heal itself. However, when inflammation sticks around, it can wreak havoc on our health and increase the risk factors of chronic disease. A keto diet naturally reduces many of the top foods that influence inflammation, and when done well, can help prevent the risk of chronic disease, reduce pain caused by inflammation, and in turn, improve our health and longevity.
Remember, keto is not just about reducing carbs and eating more fat, but about living healthier, forming good habits, and providing optimal nutrition to our bodies. Find success with keto by practicing mindful eating.
Tara Finnerty RDN, CSP, CD — is a ketogenic specialist and fat-fueled enthusiast. Tara is a registered dietitian in Utah and owner of Sugar House Nutrition LLC. Her aim is to provide nutrition support for people wanting to reap the many health benefits of the ketogenic (keto) diet. Her expertise in the keto diet was initially working with children who have uncontrolled epilepsy. Tara supports nutrition diversity and works toward helping people find an individualized approach to make healthy eating sustainable.