Inflammation is the body’s first response to a physical trauma and injury, or to a microbial attack. I’ve explored the role of inflammation and stress in health and disease here. While reducing stress is essential to good health, there are also some anti-inflammatory foods we can include to help reduce inflammation.
Herbs and Spices
These include cinnamon, fennel, garlic, ginger, rosemary, turmeric and olive oil. Herbs and spices are anti-inflammatory due to their phytochemical properties. Which in plain english, are naturally occurring plant chemicals that provide the cells with protection. They can stimulate the immune system, reduce inflammation, slow the growth of cancer cells and prevent DNA damage.
Nuts and Seeds
Examples include almonds, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Nuts and seeds are high in minerals, vitamin E, omega 3 and antioxidants. All essential in reducing inflammation and supporting the growth of healthy cells.
Grains and legumes
This one should only be included if you have no known allergies or sensitivities. I outline the issue with some grains here. Gluten free grains you could have include quinoa, millet, buckwheat and brown rice. These are great for vegetarian diets as a source of protein and fibre to reduce inflammation.
Antioxidant rich fruits such as blackberries, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries and raspberries. Avocado is also a great inclusion for all it’s healthy fat. These antioxidant rich fruits are included as they reduce oxidative stress and protect your cells.
Meat, poultry and fish
Fish such as mackerel, sardines and anchovies are great sources of omega 3, which has been shown to reduce inflammation. Furthermore it is important to be aware of the source of your fish, for example wild caught is preferential over farmed fish. Meat should come from grass fed and finished sources – I’ll be talking about this on my podcast. Poultry should be free range and fed organic feed. When consuming meat try and do so from the best source you can find. It is a worthwhile investment that pays off in your health.
Lots and lots of multicoloured vegetables. Beetroot, brussel sprouts, cabbage, capsicum, cauliflower, celery and kale to name a few. The more the better and the more colours even better! Vegetables are high in antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory. Be mindful if you have any sensitivities such as night shades (tomato, eggplant, etc) or FODMAPs (onion, garlic, etc).
Chamomile tea, ginger tea, green tea and plenty of filtered water. These beverages are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant rich. They are also void of sugar and caffeine which can cause blood sugar spikes and contribute to inflammation. Additionally alcohol should be limited to 1 drink a day, with 2 alcohol free days a week.
As well as these anti-inflammatory foods it is essential to incorporate lifestyle changes too. Engaging in regular movement such as weighted exercise, walking or yoga. Mindfulness and meditation is also important in improving wellbeing. Additionally any further support such as therapy, support groups or visualisations can be employed. These lifestyle changes assist in improving mental health, reducing stress and improving sleep.
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