Inflammation is the latest buzzword, which has seen a rise in the demand for anti-inflammatory foods, supplements and even life-style practices! Unlike some health trends, we can actually all benefit from the inclusion of more anti-inflammatory foods in our diet. Anti-inflammatory foods have a powerful presence in the body and offer a host of nutrients, minerals and anti-oxidant compounds to help us glow from within. Here we are going to explore how to beat inflammation through diet in the most delicious ways possible.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury (inflammatory trigger) and involves the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals to fight off the inflammatory trigger. If this response occurs day in day out due to a poor diet, it can leave us with tissue damage, accumulation of free radicals and a weakened defence system. Inflammation has been identified as an underlying driver of many chronic health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, gastrointestinal disease and even mood disorders.
Fighting Inflammation with Food
A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods is hands down the best protection against inflammation and associated poor health.
The most cited pro-inflammatory foods are:
- High-glycaemic index carbohydrates (refined white bread, pasta, cereal)
- Processed and refined sugar found in cakes, biscuits, soft drinks
- Processed meats and high-intake of fatty red meat
- Vegetable oil, canola oil and deep-fried foods
- Dairy and gluten (if you are sensitive/intolerant to such foods)
On the flip side, well-known anti-inflammatory foods are:
- Salmon, small white fish (whiting or snapper)
- Avocado, tahini, nuts and seeds, macadamia nut oil
- Legumes, chickpeas, tempeh
- Green leafy vegetables
- Bright coloured vegetables (capsicum, sweet potato, carrot)
- Fruits (kiwi, strawberry, berries, red grapes)
- Spices and herbs (coriander, ginger, garlic, turmeric)
You will see anti-inflammatory foods have a few things in common:
- Low-glycaemic index and high-fibre carbohydrates (slow-releasing complex carbohydrates for blood sugar regulation)
- Source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids
- Rich in vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants (eg Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Carotene, Resveratrol)
If you are serious about targeting inflammation at its core, here are a few key players to pop on your plate:
Curcumin is the active compound found in the orange spice, turmeric. Curcumin is famous for its anti-inflammatory abilities and has been studied for its positive effects in inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis and even diabetes. Curcumin is best absorbed alongside a source of fat, try freshly grated turmeric in a home-made curry paste with coconut oil as the base or add to a smoothie alongside coconut or almond milk.
Omega-3 Fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fatty fish, chia seeds and walnuts exert an anti-inflammatory effect in the body whereas omega-6 is more pro-inflammatory. Omega-3 and omega-6 are both needed in the diet because humans do not have the enzymes required to make these fats. However, omega-3 and omega-6 compete for absorption and because omega-3 has a greater anti-inflammatory effect its important to eat a diet higher in omega-3 fatty acids and limit omega-6. The easiest way to do this is to by-pass heavily processed foods with added oils and favour whole foods.
Resveratrol is associated with red wine and is in fact a polyphenol (antioxidant) found in the skin of grapes and blueberries. Resveratrol has both an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effect on the body and has shown promise in various disease states such as arthritis, gastrointestinal disease and cardiovascular disease. Adding a handful of blueberries to your breakfast or a sprinkling of freeze-dried berry powder to smoothies is a delicious way to include resveratrol in your diet.
If you are looking to beat inflammation through diet, the key is to crowd out the inflammatory foods with anti-inflammatory foods to flip the balance towards greater health. And I promise, the taste won’t disappoint!
Try my Sweet Blueberry Marinated Salmon for a powerful combo of omega-3 fatty acids and Resveratrol!
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