Anti-inflammatory diets are quite popular nowadays as modern science is starting to catch up with concepts nutritionists and other natural medicine practitioners have always known, that many illnesses are linked to chronic inflammation.
Inflammation is a normal and healthy response in your body to protect it from injury or illnesses, like bacteria or viruses and it’s what you really what you want your body to do to help you stay well.
When inflammation becomes chronic or long term, particularly when the inflammation affects any part of your gastrointestinal tract (from your mouth, stomach, small or large intestine commonly referred to as the gut) it can start to cause unwanted effects or lead to other serious disease.
To eat for optimal health and lower the risk of inflammation it’s best to try and eat foods as fresh and as close to their natural state as possible. This doesn’t mean you need to eat a raw food diet, but instead making most of your ingredients in your meals fresh or frozen vegetables and eggs and meat as best quality as you can afford with your budget.
Eating for optimal health also means limiting consumption of:
packet foods, especially those with a long list of ingredients, colours, additives, flavour enhancers and preservatives
alcohol and soft drink consumption
refined sugars and refined vegetable oils.
Some of the items listed above may seem like good choices to make food tastier or preparing meals faster, but they don’t pay off in the longer term. Making meals doesn’t need to be complicated and adding flavour is easy when using natural ingredients such as herbs and spices.
Bone broth and fermented foods are so popular for their health benefits, but there are many other important foods that help to reduce inflammation and improve your health.
Here are 10 easily accessible and fantastic options to include everyday:
Yes, it’s obvious and boring to some but increasing your water intake reduces the risk of inflammatory disorders, increases hydration in the body and helps to flush out toxins. Many people are consuming too much coffee, cordials and soft drinks which are not only increasing the risk of inflammation but may be putting extra demand on your body’s elimination systems.
Garlic contains a highly beneficial sulfur compound called allicin that is formed when a clove of garlic is crushed, chopped, minced or chewed. It is highly nutritious and contains essential nutrients such as manganese, vitamin B6 and vitamin C and other antioxidant compounds. Garlic is known to reduce risks of Alzheimer’s, dementia and heart disease, lowers blood pressure and can even improve athletic performance. It’s also excellent for improving immunity and has been shown to reduce the occurrence and duration of colds. But the best part is that it can add such wonderful flavour to food! (For people on blood thinning medications or who have a blood disorder it’s best to talk to your health practitioner before increasing garlic consumption).
Onion contains high levels of quercetin which is a potent antioxidant that helps fight inflammation. They are high in phytochemicals and flavonoids, vitamin C and chromium which improve immunity and regulate blood sugar levels. Onions have been used medicinally to reduce inflammation and combat infections for centuries.
4.Leafy green vegetables
When people thin leafy greens they immediately think spinach and kale, but there are so many more options to enjoy including rocket, lettuce, dandelion greens, bok choy and other Asian greens. They are vitamin and anti-oxidant rich and together with flavonoids and particularly vitamin K, they restore cellular health and regulate inflammation.
What’s a cruciferous vegetable? They include broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and cabbage and are rich in vitamins and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and sulfur. They also contain potent anti-inflammatory anti-oxidants, flavonoids and carotenoids.
6.Seafood and cold water fish
Fish such as sardines, mackerel, tuna and salmon are known for their anti-inflammatory effects thanks to their high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3 fatty acids are an essential component of cell membranes and are also an important part of normal metabolism.
Other sources of omega-3 include olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds such as chia and flaxseed (linseed).
Fresh green leafy herbs are awesome ways to add flavour to salads, stir fry and roasts. Fresh herbs such as parsley, oregano, sage, basil and coriander are rich in vitamins A, B6, C & K as well as minerals such as iron and manganese. They are anti-oxidant rich and contain an
-septic, anti-microbial, anti-biotic compounds to are so beneficial to keep inflammation at bay.
Fresh ginger has some many amazing properties that it helps improve headaches, gastro intestinal discomfort such as gas, improves digestion, helps cleanse the lympatic system, and also helps reduce nausea and motion sickness. It is both refreshing and warming an can be added to either sweet or savoury meals.
Berries, especially raspberries and blueberries are high in fibre, potassium, folate and vitamin C and are packed full of anti-oxidants that help fight inflammation. They taste great and add lots of colour to meals or snacks.
We know that turmeric has many fabulous anti-inflammatory properties but there are many other spices that are also wonderful additions to snacks and meals that help fight illness and inflammation. Cinnamon can be added to sweet or savoury dishes and contains calcium, iron, manganese and vitamin K. It has anti-microbial properties that help prevent candida overgrowth and protect against cognitive decline as well as immune boosting anti-oxidants. Cumin and fennel seeds are also known for their vitamin an
d anti-oxidants as well as their ability to improve digestive health.
These are all readily accessible foods that don’t require a lot of effort or money and can be part of any meal of the day.
However, we are all unique and everyone has different responses to foods and for some people with allergies, intolerances or existing auto-immune conditions, your body may not respond in the same way as others. Keep in mind your individual circumstances, and by understanding how food contributes to your health you can make the best choice for you.