Now that you know what inflammation is and a few tips on how to reduce it, let’s get specific about food.
Author and early natural health advocate Ann Wigmore really said it best:
“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.”
Unfortunately, our standard Western diet is definitely geared towards the latter.
Let’s look at my top three foods that you should include to keep chronic inflammation out of your life, and how they affect the body’s inflammatory processes.
ADD THEM IN:
1. Healthy Fats
Wrongly demonised for far too long now, most of us know that some fat is good, healthy, and vital.
Extra virgin olive oil, avocados, and nuts and seeds all provide excellent sources of good fats.
Omega-3 fats deserve special mention. They are found in oily, cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel, and also in plant sources such as algae and flaxseed. Omega-3s have been found to be specifically anti-inflammatory.
These fats are part of a biochemical pathway which produce chemicals such as anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. These prostaglandins are also important in keeping blood pressure regulated and reducing the risk of blood clotting.
These fats are termed Essential Fatty Acids because we need to ingest them regularly.
Get at least 2-3 servings of omega-3 fats each week, or talk to me about a high-quality supplement.
2. More Plants
While the NZ Ministry of Health has been talking about “5 a day”, to really bring inflammation down, you should aim for 7-10 servings daily. Aim to include a wide variety of dark and brightly coloured mostly-vegetables-and-some fruit daily.
A good way to ensure that you are getting your required servings without counting, is to try and make at least half your plate veggies and fruit at each meal and snack.
Some of my favourite anti-inflammatory plant foods include kale, spinach, blueberries and other dark berries, red, orange, and yellow capsicum, and green tea.
The colours present in plant foods indicate different phytochemicals (plant chemicals), many of which are anti-inflammatory. Some that you may have heard of include anthocyanidins, found in blue and purple foods, lycopene, found in red foods such as tomatoes, and carotenoids, found in orange and yellow foods.
3. Herbs and Spices
Many culinary herbs and spices which have been used for centuries to flavour our food also have a secondary purpose. While many of these are herbal medicines which I use in my clinic with clients, adding them to your daily diet can have a profound ability to prevent and reduce your inflammatory load.
Turmeric, ginger, and cardamom, prevalent in Indian and Asian cooking, have all shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Curcumin, one phytochemical found in turmeric, has had a huge amount of research on it recently. Studies show that its anti-inflammatory actions may be protective against stomach ulcers, IBS, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, allergies, autoimmune conditions, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Ginger, that pungent root which we know as being good for nausea, contains potent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory compounds that make it especially suited to inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal tract.
And cardamom, found mainly in Indian deserts, has been shown to have protective effects against cancer, inhibiting the proliferation and invasion of cancer cells. It is also protective against bone loss, making it a great spice to add in to any menopausal woman’s daily diet.
Tip- One new recipe each week
A great way to add in these foods without feeling overwhelmed is to add in one new recipe each week, using one (or all!) of the ingredients above.
Try Pumpkin Dahl Soup or a new Smoothie recipe
Stay tuned for the next installment on the Top 3 Worst Foods for Inflammation.
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Want to do something more about it now? Concerned about an inflammatory condition that is affecting your life? Book now for a one-on-one session with me to get to the root of your issues, and to guide you back to optimal health so that you can live your best life.
Salmon image courtesy of tiverylucky at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Tracey Loughran is a naturopath and natural health expert with over 10 years of experience.