One of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce excess inflammation in your body is to adopt an anti-inflammatory diet. Not to be confused with a diet that restricts calories and deprives you of nutrients, an anti-inflammatory diet is simply a diet that contains an abundance of foods that minimise and help control your body's inflammatory response.
What is Inflammation?
First, let's start by saying that inflammation is not necessarily bad. Inflammation is a bodily process wherein white blood cells surround and protect an injured area. Think of when you drop something heavy on your foot. The swelling and redness is a means of protection. The same goes for when your body is attacked by a virus, like the flu. Your white blood cells form an army to fight the infection. Both of these examples are instances of acute inflammation, and without this, infections and injuries could be deadly.
Chronic inflammation is another matter altogether, and this is the kind of inflammation that can be problematic. Like acute inflammation, chronic inflammation occurs when your body perceives a threat (like environmental pollution, alcohol, sugar, nicotine, poor diet), but the inflammatory response is prolonged. Chronic inflammation can also occur when someone has an auto-immune disease, like psoriasis, wherein the body perceives its own tissue as foreign and tries to attack it.
Long-Term Side-Effects of Inflammation
When inflammation is chronic and is left unchecked, it can cause a host of diseases and conditions, including:
- Active hepatitis
- Alzheimer's disease
- Atherosclerosis (clogged arteries)
- Auto-immune diseases
- Cardiovascular disease
- Neurological diseases
- Pulmonary disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Hay fever
- Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
So, it's incredibly important to control your body's inflammatory response so that it stays healthy and, as mentioned, one of the easiest ways to do this is through an anti-inflammatory diet. What we eat and drink has been shown to play a major role in both facilitating and fighting inflammation so we're going to talk about what you need to eat and drink (and what to avoid) to support a balanced inflammatory response.
Stress & Inflammation
Well it's well-known the negative effect that stress can have on health and it's impact on the inflammatory response. Stress when chronic (persisting for a long time) can create inflammation in the body as well as many other illnesses. This is why it is not just important but actually vital to become the master of your stress through your mind power, managing emotional responses and regular meditation to create more healthier brain waves.
When we are constantly in the brain wave state of high beta, we are in our analytical mind and according to neuroscientist Dr Joe Dispenza, this is when we are living in stress or survival and this can create inflammation.
Dr Joe says:
"This is when we are living in stress or survival. High beta is a very aroused state, usually associated with emotions such as anger and aggression, fear and anxiety, or pain and suffering. In this brainwave state, we tend to be overly-focused, overly-obsessed, and overly-analytical about all the elements in our lives. When people get stuck in this state, they usually need something outside of them to change their inner emotional state, such as drugs, alcohol, television, video games, etc. Therefore, we could say that they are looking to change their inner environment through something in their outer environment."
How The Modern World is Highly Inflammatory
One of the biggest factors in the creation of inflammation is all the man-made chemicals we are exposed to these days. We talk about this in our blog about arterial health and clogged arteries.
Processed carbohydrates are also highly inflammatory and our modern diet contains an abundance of them. Processed carbs create metabolic syndrome and inflammation that leads to problems such as arterial plaque build-up, heart disease and much more.
Please see our arterial health blog here.
Now that we have touched briefly on the mind & stress, chemicals and processed carbohydrates, t's time to discuss the best foods, beverages and supplements that you can easily incorporate into your diet.
Best Foods, Drinks & Supplements for an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
This blog was originally based around 10 foods but we decided to add in some of the supplements we stock that possess anti-inflammatory properties.
These are only suggestions and not advice. Please only include foods or supplements that suit you and your individual needs.
Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, blackberries—all berries are bursting with anti-inflammatory properties, while also boasting a high fibre content and loads of disease-fighting antioxidants. Berries are much lower in fructose compared to many other fruits so this makes them a great choice!
Avocados: This heart-healthy superfood not only contains cancer-fighting carotenoids but is a delicious anti-inflammatory fruit.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes for inflammation? When it comes to tomatoes the topic of inflammation may seem controversial because for some people tomatoes are a great anti-inflammatory food due to the lycopene they contain (lycopene is a powerful antioxidant with great anti-inflammation properties) NOTE: lycopene is a carotenoid, a nutrient that’s better absorbed with a source of fat. So just ensure you’re enjoying your tomatoes with some olive oil, avocado or some other healthy fat!
When tomatoes can be potentially* inflammatory is for those with arthritis (*this hasn’t been proven) but some say when they take out nightshades from their diet that their arthritis Improves (it is possible that they may have a lectin issue and not specifically an issue with tomatoes ?)
If you have no issue with them, eat up as they contain lots of vitamin C for immune health 🍅
Make a fresh tomato salad, add to an omelette, roast and serve as a side, create a delicious tomato soup, slice up and add to a pizza and much more!
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This oil's got loads of oleocanthal, which is an anti-inflammatory anti-oxidant that's so powerful it has been compared to ibuprofen.
- Pineapples: In addition to being a superb source of vitamin C, pineapple has plenty of bromelain, which is an enzyme that can help reduce gut inflammation while also regulating digestion and improving immune function. Note: pineapples are also high in fructose so they are not ideal for everyone.
- Turmeric: Turmeric contains the powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, curcumin. Some experts say activate the curcumin in turmeric, that you need to add a dash of black pepper to your curry, dressing, or soup but I am yet to see conclusive evidence of this. However, just adding turmeric alone can help to reduce inflammation associated with arthritis, back pain and other inflammatory issues or diseases.
- Fish and Seafood: Eating more fish (preferably wild-caught) and other forms of seafood such as oysters will provide you with a good source of nutrition and protein
- Dark Chocolate: Enjoy dark chocolate that's at least 70% cocoa to get a load of flavanols—an antioxidant that's been proven to help promote the health of your arteries and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Or even better if you’re trying to avoid sugar is to add a heaped tsp of raw cacao powder to a healthy smoothie (see our smoothie eBook here for plenty of ideas and inspiration). Please note: cacao does contain oxalates so if you're on a low-oxalate diet, cacao is best avoided.
- Hydrolyzed Collagen: Hydrolyzed Collagen is rich in amino acids which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. When supplementing with collagen, it's best to use high-quality collagen that's free of chemicals and GMOs so you are not further triggering an inflammatory response and doing what you intend to do—fight it.
- Ginger Tea: Ginger tea (or ginger in salad dressings or soups) is a brilliant way to reduce inflammation. Ginger also has anti-cancer properties and is believed to support your immunity. Other powerful anti-inflammatory teas include rosemary, chamomile, rosehip, and green tea.
- Magnesium deficiency has been shown to have a negative effect on inflammation so if you think you may be low (which is most of us and it’s due to stress) you may wish to consider supplementing with the Perfect Magnesium Citrate powder or capsules (available in the store).
- Organic Baobab is a low-carb fruit from Africa that is consumed in a powder form and is very high in antioxidants and polyphenols that may help to reduce inflammation. This incredible super food has so much nutrition and is worthy of its superfood status! Definitely worth considering adding to one's regime if they are looking to boost wellness and potentially calm down inflammation.
- Organic Acerola Cherry is one of the best, most potent and bioavailable form of whole vitamin C available (not this ascorbic isolated rubbish that is often sourced from GMO, round-up ready corn (sprayed with toxic glyphosate)
- Vitamin D is crucial to good health as you know but did you know that it may also play a role in the modulation of the inflammation system? So if you’re not getting adequate sunshine (uncovered, early morning/late afternoon), you may wish to consider taking a high-quality cod liver oil supplement. We recommend the Green Pasture FCLO + CBO supplement as it contains all the fat-soluble vitamins - A, D, E & K for best absorption.
Remember, if you want your anti-inflammatory diet to work, you’re also going to want to avoid (or severely limit) foods and drinks that cause inflammation like processed sugar and alcohol. If you can manage that and fill your diet with all the top anti-inflammatory foods, drinks, and supplements mentioned above, you will enjoy a more balanced, pain-free life.
Disclaimer: this article is for informational purposes only and not to be taken as advice. It is always recommended to seek professional medical advice from your trusted health practitioner.