Top 7 Foods To Fight Inflammation

 In Guelph Naturopathic Doctor

What is Inflammation? 

Have you ever wondered what inflammation is?  It’s a word we throw around a lot and it’s really important to know what it is and how it works.  

But why do we need to know what inflammation is? Hint: if we know how it works, we can also figure how to stop it! 

Inflammation refers to your body’s process of fighting against things that harm it, such as infections, injuries, and toxins, in an attempt to heal itself. When something damages your cells, your body releases chemicals that trigger a response from your immune system.  It’s your immune systems response that produces what’s called an inflammatory cascade. It’s this cascade that results in pain, swelling, heat and redness. The body then produces anti-inflammatory immune cells that help to resolve the issue and you’re back to being pain free.  In acute situations, inflammation is protective and healing. 

However, the problem comes when we have chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is when your immune system is running on overdrive in response to  ‘something’ constantly stimulating your inflammatory cascade and pro-inflammatory immune cells.  This leads to the consistent nagging feelings of pain, swelling, soreness and stiffness. And unfortunately, chronic inflammation has been linked to some other chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, stroke, dementia and auto-immune disease.  All are NOT good!! 

The tricky part is trying to figure out what that ‘something is’ that’s pissing off your immune system.  Some common triggers are poor diet, lack of sleep,  stress, unbalanced digestive microflora and hormone imbalances.  

It’s a big list, I get it!  And where do you start?  

My first suggestion is always to look at your diet and your digestive health first!  In my opinion, it’s one of the leading causes of chronic inflammation and chronic disease. 

It’s well studied that there are certain foods that can support the body and reduce inflammation.  These are my favourite 7 Foods To Fighting Inflammation. 

Top 7 Foods To Fight Inflammation

1.  Turmeric

Is an amazing herb commonly used as a kitchen spice and is what gives curry it’s gorgeous yellow colour.  When using turmeric as an anti-inflammatory, it’s the curcuminoids or curcumin found in Turmeric that make it a potent anti-inflammatory.  Some studies even show that it’s more effective than using NSAIDs such as aspirin or ibuprofen.  

You can add turmeric to your cooking, smoothies or try golden milk  to add an anti-inflammatory boost to the day

It is important to mention that turmeric is actually very low in curcumin.  It contains only 2 to 5% of the active anti-inflammatory cucuminoids by weight.  The other important thing to note is that curcumin is poorly absorbed by the body.  Most of the curcumin we get by eating turmeric is rapidly removed from the body.  Curcumin is also fat-soluble, which means that we need to be eating fat to absorb it into the body.   Therefore it might be a good option to supplement with Curcumin to gain its amazing inflammation fighting benefits.  Choose a fat-soluble option to support to it’s quick entry into the body. 

2. Ginger

Ginger is another anti-inflammatory powerhouse. Ginger has been used for years to treat digestive upset, nausea, diarrhea and arthritis.  

In addition to being anti-inflammatory, ginger also contains potent antimicrobial and anti-oxidative properties, which strengthen your body’s defences systems against infections and reduce oxidative stress which can cause DNA damage and premature aging. 

Try adding ginger to any recipes where you might use garlic or another pungent spice, such as stir-fries and marinades or give it a try in your morning smoothie. Try the Pineapple Turmeric Smoothie in your Meal Plan.

3. Blueberries

Blueberries are packed with powerful antioxidants that can limit the release of pro-inflammatory immune cells that can make inflammation and pain worse.  Blueberries also contain a phytonutrients known as anthocyanins which are the components that give blueberries their characteristic hue, so when buying blueberries, the darker the better! Fresh or frozen, they make a great addition to your morning smoothies, oatmeal or coconut yogurt parfait.  

4. Salmon

Salmon is full Omega-3s, which support a balanced immune system. Numerous studies have shown the benefit of fish oil supplementation in patients with inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, lupus, multiple sclerosis and even migraine headaches. It was found that supplementing with fish oil decreased disease symptoms and flare-ups, and reduced dependence on anti-inflammatory medications.

Enjoy eating salmon a few times a week–just make sure it’s the wild-caught kind, which contains much more astaxanthin (the anti-inflammatory molecule found in algae, plankton, and krill that gives salmon its red colour) than farmed salmon. 

Though eating salmon or other fatty fish is a great way to get more Omega-3s in your diet, you would have to eat a lot of fish to get the full amount needed to tackle inflammation, which is why you may want to consider adding an Omega-3 supplement to your regimen. 

When choosing an omega-3 supplement there are some things you may want to consider.  Make sure the brand has been 3rd party tested, so you know that it doesn’t contain any heavy metals.  The dose is also important.  For fish oils to provide anti-inflammatory properties to the body, you need to be supplementing with 3000mg of EPA (ecosapentanoic acid) daily.  You want to choose a high dose fish oil so you don’t have to take as many capsules. 

5. Avocados

Avocados seem to be everywhere and in everything!   Avocados on toast, smoothies, salads you name it!  

These super fruits are high in monounsaturated fat, particularly oleic acid, which has shown to reduce biomarkers of inflammation. They are also a  good source of vitamin E, a micronutrient that has anti-inflammatory effects and is linked to decreased risk of joint damage in osteoarthritic patients. Adding avocado to a meal will help you fight inflammation for hours after eating.  

6. Leafy Greens

Leafy greens–such as kale, spinach, broccoli, collards, and arugula–are also brimming with vitamins A, D, E, and K, all of which have anti-inflammatory benefits and are necessary to reduce oxidative stress on the body.   It’s best to eat a mix of raw and cooked greens, since heat can destroy some nutrients while making others more bioavailable.  Try adding spinach to your smoothies or adding a healthy salad at lunch.  

7. Bone Broth

You might be thinking of the chicken soup your mother use to feed you as a child when you were sick.   Bone broth is a tried and true ‘folk remedy’ that has been used for ages and now we are starting to see science back up its awesome health benefits.  

Bone broth is a natural source of glucosamine and is high in the anti-inflammatory amino acids glycine and proline, all of which help to reduce joint pain caused by inflammation.  Bone Broth is also loaded with collagen which helps to support a healthy gut, encourages optimal bone mineral density, and supports healthy hair and nail growth. 

Don’t have time to make your own bone broth?  You can use Collagen Supplements to get the same befits without the time suck.  Adding a scoop of heat stable collagen is a great addition to smoothies, tea, coffee, energy bites and soup. 

If you’re experiencing a chronic pain or inflammatory condition, try adding these inflammation fighting foods regularly to your diet.   

So let’s figure it out!  I’d love to jump on quick Virtual Discovery Call and help you figure out what that ‘something is’ that’s pissing off your immune system.   Whether its diet issues, lack of sleep,  stress, unbalanced digestive microflora  or hormone imbalances we can put a strategy together to help you feel your best. 

 

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