By Melissa Rifkin, MSc Nutritionist
In this article:
What is an anti-inflammatory diet?
Anti-inflammatory is a popular word in the world of healthy eating. I’m sure you’ve heard it more than once in recent years. From unique foods to common ingredients and supplements, the concept of changing your diet to reduce inflammation in your body is based on scientific evidence. But what exactly is its importance, and how can reducing inflammation be beneficial to health? We’ll cover the importance of managing inflammation, situations where inflammation can even be beneficial, and foods that can help manage inflammation at home.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is often talked about in a negative way. And although in many cases it can indeed adversely affect health, in fact, it is the body’s natural defense mechanism. For example, inflammation and swelling around the injury (for example, when the ankle is sprained) helps attract substances to the site of injury to speed up healing. In addition, inflammation can even be beneficial as it supports the immune system to fight infections. This reaction is known as acute inflammation, and the body has mechanisms to regulate its extent. And if in these situations, inflammation is good for the body, then the excessive inflammatory response caused by diet and lifestyle leads to a number of problems.
There are many situations where inflammation is harmful to health. For too long or too much inflammation, it can damage the DNA, cells and tissues of the body. Such damage increases the risk of developing various chronic diseases, such as cancer or heart disease. One of the best ways to fight inflammation is by living a healthy lifestyle, including eating well, taking supplements, and limiting tobacco and alcohol use. Read on for my top tips for reducing inflammation.
Seven foods and supplements to reduce inflammation
Turmeric Is a spice with a characteristic bright golden yellow color that is often used in Asian cuisine for its warm, bitter taste and health benefits. While turmeric dishes can be very beneficial, supplements are much more likely to provide an effective dose of this beneficial spice. Curcumin – an active compound of turmeric, known for its beneficial properties and ability to fight inflammation and oxidantsas well as strengthen joints and heart. Curcumin supplements can be taken daily to provide adequate support for the body.
The benefits of turmeric, an anti-inflammatory spice: more details…
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 – fats found in common foods such as salmon and tuna. They are known for their ability to reduce inflammation in the body. If you’re not getting enough omega-3s from your meal, supplements can be a convenient way to replenish this valuable nutrient. In addition to reducing inflammation, omega-3 fatty acids support heart health and are also sources of the essential amino acids EPA and DHA, which are believed to be beneficial for the brain and eyes. If you do not like to swallow capsules, they are sold omega-3 in liquid formthat can be added to smoothies or sipped before morning tea.
Walnuts – vegetable source of beneficial omega-3 acids. And, while supplements can be a very convenient way to get a wide variety of nutrients that are lacking in the diet, dietary sources are often preferred. For example, by eating walnuts, you will not only get the anti-inflammatory benefits of omega-3s, but also protein, iron, and other types of fats that cannot be obtained with supplements. Walnuts are not only rich in a wide variety of nutrients (including those that reduce inflammation), but they are also extremely versatile. They can be added to oatmeal or yogurt, mixed with dried fruit for the perfect snack for a walk, and heated with honey and cinnamon.
Seeds are another good source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, and they are as versatile as walnuts. Flax-seed, chia seeds and hemp contain omega-3. The main anti-inflammatory effects of these seeds are provided by omega-3 acids, but flax, chia and hemp contain many other nutrients, including fiber, protein and iron. In addition, they all have a unique texture and taste. Even if you are not a big fan of them, these seeds can be used in a variety of forms. Try adding them to salad dressings, whipping them into smoothies, or adding them to your favorite muffin recipe. If you are looking for an interesting food source of omega-3, then these seeds are definitely for you!
Sardines Is another natural food source of omega-3. And despite their distinctive taste (and smell), these little fish are very nutrient-dense! If you find it challenging to cook fresh fish regularly, canned fish such as salmon or sardines are a great alternative to get anti-inflammatory nutrients and protein – all in a convenient package. In addition, sardines are also rich in calcium as they contain tiny bones. Add them to salad or crush and spread on toast to increase omega-3 levels in your diet.
Green tea has long been used in a wide variety of cultures around the world, largely due to its medicinal properties. Many health benefits have been linked to green tea, including the potential to reduce the risk of heart disease and even obesity. They may be due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds found in green tea. Phytonutrients present in green tea, such as catechins and L-theanineare believed to be responsible for most of the beneficial properties of this drink. You can simply make a cup of tea in the morning, or try different more sophisticated recipes like the matcha green tea latte.
Spirulina – blue-green algae related to cyanobacteria. Don’t worry, spirulina is completely safe for humans and has many beneficial properties. The phycocyanin contained in spirulina is believed to inhibit the activity of free radicals and thus can reduce inflammation in the body. Plus, spirulina can help regulate cholesterol levels and blood pressure. If you don’t like the earthy taste, spirulina can be taken in tablets or added to the powder in water or smoothies.
Cocoa – the plant from which chocolate is made. Chocolate is a combination of cocoa, sugar, milk and cocoa butter and often contains too much fat and sugar, but cocoa itself has a high nutritional value. Cocoa powder is a natural source of polyphenols, beneficial compounds known for their antioxidant properties. These antioxidants are thought to support weight management, reduce the likelihood of developing certain diseases, and have anti-inflammatory effects. Add cocoa powder to smoothies, stir with nut butter to …