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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Just Say No to Aspartame

Step away from the aspartame and say no to all artificial sweeteners! 

If you thought added sugar was the only added sweetener that was bad for your body, you'd unfortunately be wrong. Despite some claims that aspartame is anti-inflammatory, the Arthritis Foundation states that aspartame and other artificial sweeteners are not good for autoimmune arthritis. Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners are neurotoxins. This means that they affect your brain. Your immune system will see this in your body and react to the artificial sweetener as a "foreign substance." Because of this, your body's immune system will attack the chemical and this will cause inflammation

Not only does aspartame cause inflammation, but it adds to a load of other problems that will make your autoimmune arthritis worse. Because aspartame is known by your body as a "foreign substance," you body does not know how to react to it and thus stores these "sugars" as fat. As we know, weight is a huge factor when it comes to arthritis pain. Minimizing your weight can reduce pain. A study by The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio found that those who regularly drank diet sodas with aspartame in them were 70% more likely to have a wider waist than those who did not regularly include artificial sweeteners in their diet. 

So, stop ordering diet sodas. Drink water instead. Your body will thank you later!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

10 Illustrations That Will Inspire You To Fight Inflammation

1. Healthy Eating by Emily Balsley

2. Summer Roots by Helen Dardik

3. Greenhouse Greens by Shari Blaukopf


4. Vegetables by Ryo Takemasa

Ryo Takemasa

5. By Carine Brancowitz 

carine brancowitz

6. Pickles Print by Brooke Weeber

Pickles Print Art Print

7. The Guardian, The Lunch Box by Hennie Haworth

page 1

8. Nectarine in Tissue I, 2013 by Jay Mercado 

10. Mind Map #56: [Why Kale is so awesome:] by Yours, truly: Laura Beam McKinney
Mind Map #56: [Why Kale is so awesome:]

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Inflammatory Foods To Avoid // Part I: Nightshades

Quite often, I come across claims reporting that I should not eat this food or that food because of my autoimmune arthritis. This is extremely frustrating because these claims are rarely substantiated. Why should I cut out a completely delicious food, if you're not even going to tell me why? So, dear readers, I am going to tell you why certain foods are not great for autoimmune arthritis or for living an anti-inflammatory life. Because I want to research and get you the best info about each category of food that should be avoided to live your best anti-inflammatory life, I will be writing a few introductory lists of foods to avoid. 

To begin with, many of our food problems are going to fall in to one food family in particular: Solanaceae. This food family is more commonly known as "nightshade." 

1. Tobacco (Seriously folks, it isn't just bad because of lung cancer!)
2. Modified Food Starch
3. Starch
4. Yeast

Nightshade fruits to avoid:
1. Tomatoes
2. Goji Berries
3. Jerusalem Cherries
4. Tamarillo
5. Gooseberries

Nightshade vegetables include:
1. Potatoes (Though, sweet potatoes are okay.)
2. Eggplant
3. Sweet Peppers
4. Chili Peppers
5. Banana Peppers
6. Cayenne
7. Habanero
8. Paprika
9. Pimentos
10. Tomatillos
11. Wax Peppers

Just like with sugar, you don't have to fully cut nightshades out of your diet, but it is good to limit them. I'll tell you though, cutting out nightshades (just like cutting out sugar) is hard. Everyone loves french fries and potato chips. Many of us enjoy peppers. Tomatoes seem to be in everything. But, you can do this. You can lower how many of these you eat. I still have some of these from time to time. You won't notice how much they are affecting your inflammation until you cut them out for a little while. One day after cutting them out, you'll let yourself have a tomato or potato or pepper and you'll realize how much eating that nightshade plant has affected your inflammation and pain.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Recipe: Baked Collard Green Chips // Collard Greens Are The New Kale

As discussed in 10 Essential Items For Your Delicious Arthritis Grocery List, dark leafy greens are REALLY good at fighting inflammation. Loads of studies have suggested that the Vitamin E in these dark beauties plays a key role in fighting cytokines. 

As a reminder, cytokines are inflammatory molecules. We don't like them. 

In addition to the amazing superhero, Vitamin E, dark greens and cruciferous vegetables are packed with higher concentrations of other vitamins and minerals like calcium and iron. Dark leafy greens also contain alpha-linolenic acid, and omega-3 that has similar anti-inflammatory benefits as the omega-3s that are found in fish. For all of these reasons, adding more dark leafy greens in to our lives is a good idea. 

Often times, when people think of dark leafy greens, they automatically think of kale, broccoli, and spinach. Collard greens rarely make the list. The reason for this, is that many people do not know how to use collard greens or have never been exposed to them. Kale has become a cultural identifier. Kale's popularity has gotten to the point where many celebrities even wear shirts with KALE written on them

Today we are going to talk about COLLARD GREENS. They are dark, dense, and delicious. I am going to show you how to make them in to Collard Green Chips.

6-8 large collard green leaves
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes

1. Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees.

2. First wash and dry your collard greens.

3. Chop your collard greens in to strips. Once you've chopped them in to strips, cut out the spine of the leaf. Cut strips in to smaller squares.

4. In a bowl, toss the collard green squares with the olive oil.

5. Place the collard greens on a cooking sheet. Make sure that no greens overlap. You may have to divide your leaves between three batches.

6. Bake each batch for 12 minutes, stopping half way through to rotate the pan so that the leaves get baked evenly.

7. Once they are cooled, place them in a bowl and toss with sea salt flakes.

8. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

10 Essential Items For Your Delicious Arthritis Grocery List

In my Delicious Arthritis journey, I've settled on 10 Essential Items I need on my anti-inflammatory grocery shopping lists (even if not all of them get in to every meal that I make). Just like with the 10 Essential Items For Your Delicious Arthritis Pantry, having these items on my grocery list (even if not all at once) really helps me to make sure I keep my inflammation in check and my food delicious. 

1. Beets!
They have so many antioxidants! They are also packed with fiber and vitamin C, and have been shown to reduce inflammation. Beets can be pickled, roasted, added to your smoothies, flavor your hummus, and generally brighten up your plate with their vibrant color.

2. Fatty Fish! 
Salmon, Mackerel, Tuna, Cod, and Sardines are super high in omega-3 fatty acids and have been shown to help reduce inflammation. Plus, they are super yummy! To get the full benefit though, you’re really would need to eat fish several times a week. If this isn’t possible for you, maybe try taking a fish-oil supplement. I’ve been taking them for years and definitely think they make a small difference. (If you’re going to take fish-oil supplements though, make sure to get the “burp free” options. I’m not kidding, there really are “burp free” options, and they are so worth it. No one wants fish aftertaste in their mouth. Gross!)

3. Dark Leafy Greens!
These include things like Kale, Spinach, Broccoli, and Collard Greens. There have been loads of studies that have suggested that vitamin E may play a key role in protecting the body from cytokines (aka a molecule that causes inflammation). Plus you have the added benefit of getting to absorb minerals like calcium and iron which are found in high doses of these magical leafy greens.

4. Carrots!
Golden orange and full of vitamin A and beta-carotene which many people believe to be a warrior in the battle against inflammation! Cooked carrots are even better for you because it makes the vitamin A and beta-carotene even more accessible for your body. 

5. Squash!
This veggie (just like carrots) is full of vitamin A and beta-carotene which (as I just stated above) many people believe to be a warrior in the battle against inflammation! Squash are super delicious to eat too and offer a huge variety when it comes to textures, flavors, and colors! The squash family includes such wonderful treats as: zucchini, spaghetti squash, crookneck squash, acorn squash, butternut squash, pumpkin, gold rush squash, sunburst squash, cuarzo squash, and papaya pear squash. You can bake them, sauté them, or even spiralize them!

6. Berries!
These tasty little bites of goodness are not only low in fat and calories, but they are also high in antioxidants and help fight inflammation. Most of their anti-inflammatory properties are caused by the chemical anthocyanin, which gives berries their beautiful colors. Blueberries are anti-inflammatory superstars. (Just remember, the darker the fruit or veggie is, the higher the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are!)

7. Tart Cherries!
Specifically tart flavored cherries have been found (2012 Oregon Health & Science University) to have the “highest anti-inflammatory content of any food.” Experts recommend eating 1.5 cups of tart cherries or drinking 1 cup of tart cherry juice. Unfortunately the benefits aren’t quite as high with sweet cherries. 

8. Plain Dark Chocolate!
Sometimes you just need to add a little joy to your life. They best way to do that is with chocolate. Don’t skimp on the quality. Aim for Chocolate that is 80% or higher. The sugar levels in 80%+ chocolate is much lower and the flavor is much richer.

9. Tea!
Tea is not only good for your body, but good for your soul as well. There is nothing better than drinking a cup of tea (unless maybe you're also having some dark chocolate too). Tea has many health benefits, including the ability to help healthy skin growth and bone strength.  

10. Porcini Mushrooms!
This mushroom has a meaty flavor, similar to Portabello mushrooms and has been used as a successful anti-inflammatory. It contains the compound ergosterol which is capable of attacking enemy cells through the process of cytotoxicity.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Making Mistakes & Living Our Best Anti-Inflammatory Life

Here at Delicious Arthritis, I try to help myself and others live our best anti-inflammatory life. Arthritis is hard. Autoimmune illnesses are hard. Cutting things out of our diet is also really hard. Even when I know that I might be better off fully cutting out sugar 7 our of 7 days of the week or fully cutting out inflammatory food all the time, that doesn't mean it always happens. Life happens sometimes too. Sometimes I eat more sugar than I intended and I have a flare up. Sometimes I don't get enough sleep and my joints feel worse. When those times happen though, it is important that I (and you) find a way to forgive myself  (ourselves). I didn't mean to eat something that made me have a flare up. I didn't intend to "fall off the wagon." Life happens sometimes and we just have to do the best we can.

I have a mentor, Mel, who often says: "Food is NEVER a moral issue." I am here right now to tell you that sometimes you'll slip up. Sometimes you'll eat that added sugar. Sometimes you'll eat a nightshade plant. Sometimes you'll drink more alcohol than your prescriptions recommend. That does not mean that you're a bad person. That doesn't mean that you're going to do it over and over again and that all your hard work was for nothing. It only means that you slipped up. You are human. On that same note: you are not superior or noble or a good person just because you follow all of your food rules. That isn't how food works. Food is just food; it is delicious, healthy, nourishing, and sometimes even decadent, but at the end of the day it is just the fuel that makes you run. We want the best fuel for our body but sometimes we don't give ourselves premium fuel, sometimes we just give ourselves the fuel that is available. That is okay.

Mr. Rogers once said:

"Some days, doing 'the best we can' may still fall short of what we would like to be able to do, but life isn't perfect (on any front) and doing what we can with what we have is the most we should expect of ourselves or anyone else." 

So, when you're having a hard time living your most anti-inflammatory life, forgive yourself. You're doing the best you can. Your do over starts now: Not later today, not tomorrow, your do over starts now. 

Here are five fabulous anti-inflammatory things to give yourself a fresh start today:
  1. Make this Anti-inflammatory Chai Latte to drink with your breakfast!
  2. Or this Anti-inflammatory Smoothie!
  3. Or bring along one of my Delicious Arthritis: Hazelnut Chocolate Date Bars for a midday snack!
  4. Or make Ginger Garlic Baked Salmon for dinner!
  5. Or simply drink more water throughout your day!
You can do this. I believe in you.