Lessons From a Caveman: The Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Cavemen had it easy. They didn’t have the temptation of sweet potato fries, or Dairy Queen Blizzards, or margaritas. All they had to eat were nuts, berries and seeds; lean meat; fish and plant foods. Their primitive diet struck the perfect balance of anti-inflammatory Omega-3s and pro-inflammatory Omega-6s. What does today’s “caveman” diet look like? Steak. Potato. Bread. The scales are tipped in one clear direction. In a span of a few hundred-thousand years, from hunting and gathering to the fast food industry, our pro to anti-inflammation ratio has gone from 1:1 to a bloated 30:1. Say, “Do I look swollen?”

It might be another story if McDonald’s got its start selling salmon and spinach Happy Meals. But the reality is most of the foods and fast food we eat are processed and fatty. And the more we eat, the more inflammation builds up in the body. It’s what causes aches and pains and leads to allergies, asthma, autoimmune diseases, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Of course inflammation speeds up the aging process in general too. Hello, wrinkles. So when you hear of the powerful antioxidents in blueberries, or the wonders of green tea, or the new superfood – acai, or whatever is touted as the next season’s fountain of youth …ย  it all comes down to the food’s ability to fight inflammation.

The trick is to eat less of the really pro-inflammatory stuff (processed foods, sugar, red meat…) and more of the anti-inflammatory stuff (veggies, nuts, fish, whole grains…). Go primitive. In your diet that is. No loin clothes.
I like to think that if I can strike a balance, I’m in good shape. The good cancels out the bad, right? Do the math: 1 Butterfinger Blizzard + 6 oz. salmon + 1 Spinach salad + 1/4 cup blueberries = 0. That’s a wash.ย 

Here’s a quick list of some inflammation fighters:
nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews)
avocados
fish (wild-caught salmon)
olive oil
dark leafy greens (spinach, mixed greens)
whole grains (brown rice)
broccoli/cauliflower
berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries)
tomatoes
tea (green)

And some inflammation instigators:
butter/margarine
sugar
full-fat dairy
red meat
high-fructose corn syrup
vegetable oils (corn, cottonseed, safflower and sunflower oils)
wheat flour (white bread)
packaged snack foods
coffee

For a visual, check out Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid.

Want more? Read: Jack Challem’s “The Inflammation Syndrome”

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Lessons From a Caveman: The Anti-Inflammatory Diet

  1. Martha Humphries

    Megan,

    Your mom told me about your blog last night at the concert. I love it. I just printed out the tilapia recipe to try sometime soon. Can’t wait to read more.

    • meg

      Thanks, Martha! Mom said y’all had a great time seeing Paul. How fun! Thanks for reading; glad you like the blog! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. What a great post… love it! Sounds so easy- now why can’t I just be better about actually doing it! Hah, age old question I suppose.

    I am actually reading a book based on similar ideals called Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself- by Dr. Junger. Have you heard of it? I am contemplating trying his 2 week program… I guess I’ll see if it works the miracles it claims to ๐Ÿ™‚

    • meg

      That’s great! Let me know how it goes. I’ve read a few other books more related to RA, but the general principle is the same. It’s definitely a challenge and with our busy lives these days it’s hard to find a chunk of time to really follow through with it. I’ve gotten really overwhelmed trying to do a cleanse during wedding season. Almost impossible ๐Ÿ™‚ But I guess you just have to do what you can. Baby steps. And looking at it that way has made it much more do-able I think.
      BTW, I’m working on some lunch ideas for ya. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks, Steph!

  3. Pingback: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Red Onion and Walnuts | megg salad

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