I talk a lot about the importance of keeping your body strong, your mind stronger, and your pelvic floor in top shape.
But I realized there’s something that compliments these lifestyle building blocks — a secret ingredient, if you will, that is the underlying foundation of health.
And it’s diet.
Not diet in the sense that we need to “go on a diet” to restrict calories or overly restrict certain food groups.
I mean diet in the broader sense of the word. As in what we eat, and how we eat it.
While this may be obvious to some, it’s such an automatic part of how I live that I actually don’t think about it much. But I truly believe that food is medicine and our diets can make a huge difference in our overall health and well being…even in the health of our pelvic floor!
Your Lady Parts are sensitive, and from my experience, certain foods can inflame your “down there” muscles, your bladder and negatively affect your hormones. After treating thousands of women, I found that those who change their diets felt better “down there” felt happier and could bounce back faster from flare-ups, UTI’s, and yeast infections.
The basic diet that I recommend is the one that’s been most well-studied and proven to be the healthiest over the course of many years — the anti-inflammatory diet. (1) This is also known as the Mediterranean diet, and it’s the easiest way to eat to keep inflammation down, which creates positive health outcomes and keeps our pelvic floors and bladders healthy for the long term.
Plus, it’s a truly delicious way to eat! A true win-win.
What Exactly Is Inflammation?
First, the basics. What is inflammation, anyway?
Chances are, you’ve heard this buzzword being thrown around, but sometimes the way it’s explained makes it sound more complicated than it really is.
Inflammation is the way your body responds to something like an injury or an infection. When you’re hurt, blood goes flowing to the injury — and your white blood cells work to heal you. This is when inflammation is considered a positive thing.
But trouble starts to brew when your body is chronically inflamed.
Maybe you’re under a lot of stress. Or you have a hidden stealth infection, a hormone imbalance, or you haven’t slept well for some time. When this happens, your body gets confused. It thinks that it’s injured, and keeps trying to reduce inflammation in several ways and several locations. It creates a near-constant inflammatory response that makes everything work overtime.
Add in processed, sugary foods, fried foods, fast foods, and carbs like muffins, cakes, bread, and cereals — all of which increase inflammation in the body…and things just get worse.
What Is An Anti-Inflammatory Diet?
Enter the anti-inflammatory diet.
This diet aims to include all of the foods that decrease inflammation in your body.
- Fish- wild-caught ONLY
- Lots and lots of vegetables
- As much fiber as you can eat
- Legumes (For those with Leaky Gut Syndrome or autoimmune issues you might benefit from eliminating legumes for a while and then reintroducing )
- Beans (For those with Leaky Gut Syndrome or autoimmune issues you might benefit from eliminating legumes for a while and then reintroducing )
- Truly whole grains (like barley and oats, not grains that have been ground and powdered into flours)
- Olive oil
- Omega-3s (like those found in flax or wild-caught Salmon)
- Organic protein a few times a week like chicken, turkey, or lamb
- Eggs- free-range and organic only
- Yogurt- okay- try coconut yogurt or Greek yogurt
- Red meat (grass-fed, organic meat only- read the labels and ask before buying )
This style of eating also recommends decreasing the following foods:
- Saturated fats
- White flour
- Wheat & Gluten
- Limit meats- if it’s not grass-fed organic
The Mediterranean diet also encourages adding certain ingredients to your routine that help decrease inflammation, like:
- Green Tea
Some basic choices to consider if you’re thinking about going with the Mediterranean Diet:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a staple of the anti-inflammatory diet and the main source of dietary fat in the Mediterranean. It can make veggies taste oh-so-good, and it’s known for being heart-healthy and anti-aging. (2,3)
- Vegetables are queen in this diet — leafy vegetables like spinach, chard, and kale can be eaten in large quantities. For some nightshades, tomatoes, and peppers
- Berries and apples are also ideal anti-inflammatory choices. They’re filled with antioxidants and fiber.
- Lentils and beans are easy to cook and inexpensive. There’s no need to break the bank if you want to eat to fight disease. ( For those with Leaky Gut Syndrome or autoimmune issues you might benefit from eliminating legumes and beans for a while and then reintroducing )
Basically, this diet isn’t super restrictive.
The idea is to eat mostly real foods — especially plants, and get in as much fiber as you possibly can. That’s it.
One easy way to think about how to “eat Mediterranean” is to fill half your plate with veggies, a quarter with starchy vegetables or whole grains, and the remaining bit with protein. Try to make your protein fish or beans most often ( try to stick with wild-caught fish and avoid fish high in mercury and farm-raised).
Then take some high-quality olive oil and liberally drizzle on your plate. Voila! You’re eating anti-inflammatory now.
Isn’t that simple?
What Are The Benefits of An Anti-Inflammatory Diet For Your Overall Health?
The healthiest people in the world eat in this manner.
Before Americanized food came to the Mediterranean, people there ate exclusively in this way. And they lived long, healthy lives as a result.
Now, in all fairness, they also walk a lot. And they prioritize strong social bonds as well as de-stressing regularly. Community is everything, and that’s why I created a safe community for women called the Pelvic Wellness Community. I want women to feel supported, safe, and have social bonds in the middle of this crisis.
Science has also shown that following an anti-inflammatory, Mediterranean inspired diet can actually decrease the likelihood of developing:
- Cancer (especially digestive cancers) (4)
- Heart disease (5)
- Diabetes (6)
- Metabolic Syndrome (7)
Since these are the conditions that take far too many lives and serve as pre-existing conditions that exacerbate any other potential infections — it seems to me like the anti-inflammatory diet is the way to go.
There’s No Such Thing As Diet Perfection
I will say this — you will never, ever, find me supporting a “perfect” diet. Trying to eat only specific things or cutting out an entire food group 100% of the time is a recipe for failure.
When we get too restrictive, we rebel. We feel deprived!
So, if you’re trying to go Mediterranean, but one day you really just have to have a pile of pancakes and a milkshake, don’t beat yourself up! Just use these recommendations as a guideline, not a hard and fast rule.
I believe that you should enjoy your food, and that’s one of the things I love about eating this way…I can savor every bite of a delicious meal, made from real food, and know that I’m doing something great for my body and my health.
- Mediterranean Diet Repeats as Best Overall of 2020 – WebMD.” 2 Jan. 2020, https://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20200102/mediterranean-diet-repeats-as-best-overall-of-2020
- Why You Need Olive Oil On Your Salad — ScienceDaily.” 19 May. 2014, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140519160712.htm.
- The Effect of Exclusive Olive Oil Consumption on Successful ….” 12 Jan. 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6352251/.
- Impact of Mediterranean Diet on Cancer: Focused Literature ….” 3 Nov. 2017, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6070327/.
- How the Mediterranean Diet Lowers Risk of Cardiovascular ….” https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/news/2018/how-mediterranean-diet-lowers-risk-cardiovascular-disease.
- Mediterranean Diet and Diabetes: Prevention and Treatment.” 4 Apr. 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4011042/.
- Impact of Mediterranean diet on metabolic syndrome, cancer ….” 24 Nov. 2016, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5352455/.