The term ‘inflammation’ is used to describe a natural process in the body’s tissues, brought about by the body itself, which involves redness, heat, swelling and pain. It is essentially the body’s way of dealing with an irritant in the form of a build-up of metabolic waste products, a toxic man-made chemical or a ‘germ’. In the case of trauma, the inflammation is facilitating healing. For the most part, acute inflammatory responses are beneficial processes and will go away with time as the source is overcome. However, some people face inflammation constantly. Chronic inflammation is linked to a host of diseases and conditions due to the body’s inability to achieve healing through acute inflammation or due to an autoimmune disease or long-term exposure to chemical irritants.
Many people are surprised to learn that certain foods can, after long-term use, bring on inflammation. This typically occurs through eating highly-processed foods, especially if overly greasy or super sweetened with refined carbohydrates. This is due to the high levels of waste products that result from the metabolism of these mineral-and-vitamin-deficient foods which the body would normally deal with through inflammation.
Avoiding the need for the inflammatory process is most strongly achieved by eating the right balance of natural, unprocessed foods in the first place. An anti-inflammatory diet is based on foods that are whole-food and plant-based, namely, vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, seeds and limited whole grains. These foods are there to improve the long-term health of your body.
There are certain foods which are particularly effective in helping the body to reduce or avoid the need for inflammation. Here are some examples of foods that help to decrease your suffering from inflammation.
Kale is a potent source of vitamin K, vitamin C, carotenoids and fibre. It also contains several antioxidants to help fight inflammation in your body.
Fresh pineapple is an ideal food to help reduce inflammation, as it contains a high level of vitamin C as well as bromelain which assists in reducing pain and swelling – in particular, it is well known to be beneficial for arthritis. Pineapple can easily be incorporated into meals through smoothies, juices or eating it on its own to enhance digestion and keep your immune system strong and healthy.
Ginger is used in traditional herbal medicine as it is not only an inflammation combatant, but also boosts immunity, lowers blood pressure and eases an upset stomach due to travel sickness, morning sickness, nausea or diarrhoea. Note that pregnant women are warned to not take more than one gram per day. Ginger – fresh, dried, powdered or its oil – can easily be added to smoothies, soups, juices, teas, stir-fries or sauces.
Garlic contains compounds which are strongly anti-inflammatory, so much so that it may even help prevent cartilage damage from arthritis. This concentrated whole food also contains the sulphur compound, alliin, which stimulates the immune system to do its job when required. Garlic heads off colds and flu and is anti-cancer. It needs to be consumed in very small amounts, typically around one or two cloves a day. In larger quantities, garlic can be irritating to tissues and may cause minor ailments.
Mushrooms contain a variety of compounds that may help to lower inflammation and improve immunity. They contain a polysaccharide called beta-glucan, a type of soluble fibre, that helps to promote a strong immune system. Mushrooms also contain various B-vitamins and useful quantities of protein.
The anti-inflammatory diet is a healthy approach to eating, whether you suffer from chronic inflammation or want to stay well in the first place. Including these foods can help you with a new way of life!