How To Fight Inflammation
We've been hearing a lot of talk about inflammation recently; particularly that it can cause all sorts of damage to the body if left untreated. So why is it a problem and what exactly is it? We enlist the help of top Nutrition Coach Rose Glover to give us the full details and how to quench the fire:
The low-down on inflammation
Inflammation is an immune response which is initiated in the body to help us fight off anything that may do us harm, such as injuries, infections, viruses, food intolerances and stress. When the body feels any of these triggers, the immune systems sends out an army of inflammatory cells to initiate the healing process and repair any damage. In an ideal world, this immune response would die down as soon as the threat has disappeared. This normal type of inflammation is a good thing, as it helps your body protect and heal itself.
However, sometimes this inflammatory response doesn’t die down, and low-grade chronic inflammation can simmer in the background and manifests in all sorts of different ways in the body. Tell-tale signs of inflammation include acne, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, anxiety, depression and hormonal imbalances, autoimmune disease or asthma.
The truth is, some of us are living quite inflammatory lifestyles compared to even our most recent ancestors, and we are simply not getting enough anti-inflammatory foods in our diet to quench that fire. Many things have changed in the way we live our lives – even in the last hundred years. For example, the depletion and over-use of soil, the industrialisation of food (think processed and non-organic foods), poor diets, medications, and of course the colossal amount of stress modern society puts on our system, may all contribute to inflammation.
But don’t fret … there is some good news: you have the power to fight inflammation with these preventative nutrition tips:
Eat the rainbow
Your mum was right, eat your veggies, and eat them more than any other food! They are packed with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and packing them in is one of the easiest ways to tackle inflammation. A study by the University of Liverpool's Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease found that diets rich in fruits and veggies that contain the antioxidants polyphenols, protect against age-related inflammation and chronic disease.
Red onions, broccoli, spinach, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries are all polyphenol rich foods. Try to make your lunch and dinner plate half veggies if you can. Give yourself bonus points for adding them to breakfast too… well, good morning spinach and blueberry smoothie! You could also add in a couple of teaspoons of Baobab powder into your morning smoothie, which is also exceptionally high in inflammation busting polyphenols!
Get an oil change
The polyunsaturated fats omega 3 and omega 6 are essential for the proper functioning of the body, but you must try and get them in the right balance. It is thought that the average person is getting 15 times more omega 6 than omega 3, as opposed to a ratio of 1:1, which is considered close to what humans evolved on.
Omega-3 fatty acids are highly anti-inflammatory in the body, and while omega-6 fats are essential and have many health benefits, they can be inflammatory in high doses, so too much can be very unhealthy.
Sources of omega 3 include oily fish, walnuts, and pumpkin, flax, chia and hemp seeds. Most of the omega-6 in our diets comes from vegetable oils (or processed foods that contain these vegetable oils) such as sunflower, corn, soy, peanut and cottonseed oils. Cold-pressed versions of these oils may be less inflammatory but still have excess omega-6 fats.
Spice it up
Spices not only add flavour to your meal, they are powerful anti-inflammatory weapons too. For example, ginger has been a superstar traditional medicine for thousands for years in Asia and indeed there is a plethora of research to show that ginger can reduce inflammatory markers in the body. Why not try this Baobab, Lemon & Ginger drink.
You could also regularly include other anti-inflammatory spices in your diet, such as turmeric, basil, chilli, black pepper and garlic. Curry night, anyone?
Rose Glover (BSc Hons MBANT CNHC) is a coach for the new TREAT app, which with the aid of health and nutrition coaches, helps transform your diet with anti-inflammatory foods. To learn more about the app, which foods may benefit your inflammation and to see some of their delicious anti-inflammatory recipes, check out the TREAT app website.