Inflammation. It’s not just for health headlines. It’s a fact.
Doctors are always monitoring our inflammatory markers when we go for a check-up and scientists are discovering that it can be pretty bad for our health. This is especially true when it's chronic (i.e. lasts a long time). Just as a fire breaks down a piece of wood, chronic inflammation can break down your body.
Chronic inflammation has been linked to obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer's, and diabetes, just to name a few. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ll see that most of what I post has to do with inflammation. Any diagnosis that ends with “itis” is inflammatory-based. Food sensitivities? Inflammation. Poor gut health? Inflammation. An auto-immune disease? You also have inflammation.
But, instead of writing all about what it is, how it's measured, and where it comes from, let’s focus on solutions. Let’s focus on some super foods packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants, proven to help reduce inflammation.
Here are my top anti-inflammatory food recommendations. It's not a "one list fits all," but is a good starting point.
Anti-inflammatory Food #1: Berries, Grapes, and Cherries
Why save the best for last? These amazingly delicious anti-inflammatory foods are a sweet favourite for many. Berries, grapes, and cherries are packed with fibre, antioxidant vitamins (e.g. vitamin C) and minerals (e.g. manganese).
They also contain phytochemicals (phyto=plant). These are antioxidants such as "anthocyanins" and "resveratrol," and are found in abundance in these small, sweet treats.
In fact, berries, grapes, and cherries may be the best dietary sources of these amazingly healthy compounds.
Anti-inflammatory Food #2: Broccoli and Peppers
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that contains the antioxidant "sulforaphane." This anti-inflammatory compound is associated with reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.
Bell peppers, on the other hand, are one of the best sources of the antioxidants vitamin C and quercetin. Just make sure to choose red peppers over the other colours. Peppers that are any other colour are not fully ripe and won't have the same anti-inflammatory effect.
I pack these two super-healthy vegetables together in this week's recipe, so be sure to check it out.
The one consideration … if you have an autoimmune disease, peppers are not so great because these are a night shade (potatoes, tomatoes, chilli, peppers, paprika, tobacco, eggplant to name a few). Night shades contain two key compounds which can aggravate your condition – lectins (also found in grains, legumes and peas) and saponins. If you’re interested in reading more about the why, click here.
Anti-inflammatory Food #3: Healthy Fats (avocado, olive oil, fatty fish)
Fat can be terribly inflammatory ("trans" fats - which are now banned in Canada), neutral (saturated fats), or anti-inflammatory (omega-3s). This is why choosing the right fat is so important for your health.
The best anti-inflammatory fats are the unsaturated ones, including omega-3s. These are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
Opt for fresh avocados, extra virgin olive oil, small fish (e.g. sardines and mackerel), and wild fish (e.g. salmon). Oh and don't forget the omega-3 seeds like chia, hemp, and flax.
Anti-inflammatory Food #4: Green Tea
Green tea contains the anti-inflammatory compound called “epigallocatechin-3-gallate”, otherwise known as EGCG.
EGCG is linked to reduced risk of heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, and Alzheimer's.
Drinking steeped green tea is great, but have you tried matcha green tea? It's thought to contain even higher levels of antioxidants than regular green tea.
If you have eczema, matcha is not a good match.
Anti-inflammatory Food #5 - Turmeric
Would a list of anti-inflammatory foods be complete without the amazing spice turmeric?
Turmeric contains the antioxidant curcumin. This compound has been shown to reduce the pain of arthritis, as well as have anti-cancer and anti-diabetes properties.
I've added it to the broccoli and pepper included this week for a 1-2-3 punch, to kick that inflammation. Other ways to incorporate turmeric – turmeric almond milk and honey tea or add to baked vegetables, stews and your bone broth.
Anti-inflamamtory Food #7: Bone Broth
If you know me, you already know I LOVE bone broth.
“Bones, marrow, skin, tendons, ligaments, and the cartilage contain a protein molecule called collagen. Collagen contains two very special amino acids: proline and glycine. Collagen helps heal the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, which includes the stomach and the intestines. This means that heartburn or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and many of the conditions associated with intestinal inflammation (chron’s, colitis, celiac) can be helped with this miracle broth.” (1)
Beyond the above reasons, bone broths offer the body nourishment during a fast – it promotes the breakdown of fatty liver, it helps the body detoxify chemicals, it improves sleep and memory, and even helps with cellulite, wrinkles and overall skin health.
Anti-inflammatory Food #6: Dark Chocolate
Ok, ok. This *may* be slightly more decadent than my #1 pick of berries, grapes, and cherries.
Dark chocolate, with at least 70% cocoa, is packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants (namely "flavonols"). These reduce the risk of heart disease by keeping your arteries healthy. They've even been shown to prevent "neuro-inflammation" (inflammation of the brain and nerves). Reducing neuro-inflammation may help with long-term memory, and reduce the risk of dementia and stroke.
I think we can all agree that CHOCOLATE is an easy thing to remember. Just make sure you avoid the sugary “candy bars.” Go for quality over quantity and you’ll never be disappointed.
There are just so many amazingly delicious and nutritious anti-inflammatory foods you can choose. They range from colourful berries, vegetables, and spices, to healthy fats, and even cocoa.
You have so many reasons to add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet to get your daily dose of "anti-inflammation."
Make sure you save your turkey bones for our upcoming feast. I will also share a bone broth recipe this week so you can make your own anti-inflammatory, anti-aging liquid gold.
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