Inflammation can play an important role in healing our bodies after an injury, illness or infection.
However, there are many chronic conditions which put the immune system into overdrive and attack healthy tissues, which in turn causes inflammation within our cells.
This subsequently leads to considerable pain and fatigue.
Chronic inflammation is associated with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, diabetes, endometriosis, asthma, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease.
Food as a prevention
The food we eat can play a part in aiding or easing inflammation within our bodies.
A diet which focuses on as much fresh produce as possible is considered best for anyone wishing to decrease inflammation. Eating an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, along with whole grains, legumes, healthy fats, herbs and spices should be the basis of each day’s meal plan, while omega-3 rich foods should also be included.
A variety of vegetables – especially plenty of leafy greens – are an important component of an anti-inflammatory diet. For their full nutrient value, fruit and vegetables are best consumed raw, but if cooking, steam to optimise their vitamin content.
Citrus fruits (especially lemons) are greatly beneficial to ward off inflammation. Berries and raw nuts, especially almonds and walnuts, are rich in anti-inflammatory properties and are also high in fibre. They can easily be enjoyed as a snack or blitzed into a smoothie.
Healthy oils, such as olive oil, can be used in place of margarine or vegetable oil. Omega-3 fatty acids can also have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Foods rich in omega-3 include oily fish (such as salmon, trout, sardines and mackerel), while avocados, flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts also contain impressive levels of this nutrient.
Numerous studies have promoted ginger and turmeric as powerful anti-inflammatories. A spoonful of turmeric can easily be added to soups, curries and stews to boost the nutritional content of the dish. Black pepper helps with the absorption of turmeric, so always add a little to any turmeric-rich dish.
Hydration is key
Hydration is also vitally important as it helps our bodies fight inflammation by flushing out toxins, while keeping our joints lubricated. Although tea and coffee aren’t off-limits, green teas, and especially matcha tea (which is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties) are good alternatives to a regular cuppa. Turmeric can also be consumed as a warming drink; simply add a teaspoon of it with a little black pepper to a cup of recently boiled water and, to ease any bitterness, stir through some honey.
Processed sugars, fried fatty foods, processed meats, and high sodium snacks are all best avoided, when trying to decrease inflammation. Gluten can also cause inflammatory responses for some individuals, so limiting it or avoiding refined carbs, such as white pasta and bread, may be helpful.
Everyone reacts differently to certain foods, and some promoted as beneficial to an anti-inflammatory diet may not suit all, but by trying out a large variety of fresh, nutrient-dense ingredients hopefully you’ll land on some beneficial dietary changes which will help your body to cope more efficiently with inflammatory flare-ups.
Turmeric & lemon-baked salmon
These salmon fillets are delicious served with an array of lightly steamed green vegetables. Alternatively, once the salmon is cooled, it can be popped in the fridge and served cold with a big green salad.
2 tbsp olive oil
2 salmon fillets
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp sea salt
Few grinds of black pepper
Dark chocolate & turmeric energy bites
Makes 12 bites
These energy bites are packed with anti-inflammatory busting ingredients and are the perfect snack to enjoy as a nutritious treat.
75g raw almonds
1 tbsp chia seeds
8 dates, chopped & pitted
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Few grinds of black pepper
3 tbsp coconut oil
50g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids, melted