The inflammatory response is a natural bodily process reacting to the damage of tissues and cells. Whether this is by bacteria trauma, toxins, heat or any other cause, it’s a necessary signalling pathway to help with healing.
The issue with inflammation arises when it becomes chronic. Even when your body isn’t hurt or healing, chronic inflammation is the long-term overstimulation of inflammatory pathways. Factors including nutrition, activity levels, environmental toxins, social factors, sleep quality, screen time and stress levels all seem to be major contributors to chronic disease development. With so many aspects of our current diet and lifestyle contributing to this modern-day inflammatory burden, dietary strategies that help reduce systemic inflammation are very important in chronic disease reduction and for maintaining optimal health.
Here are our top 5 foods that help reduce inflammation
Turmeric and ginger
Turmeric has compounds in them called curcumin which inhibit inflammatory pathways and regulate anti-inflammatory pathways. These have been proven to be beneficial in a range of chronic inflammatory conditions including rheumatoid arthritis. Ginger has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory activity. While it’s not as strong of an anti-inflammatory as turmeric, ginger also has range of other anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties all which can improve health. Turmeric consumed with black pepper can help carry the curcumin into the cell and combining with ginger makes a powerful anti-inflammatory mix.
Green tea is rich in poly-phenols and catechin compounds. Studies have shown these compounds to have significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action. Specifically, the catechin EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) is the most widely studied component of green tea. The mechanism of action seems to suppress the expression of inflammatory cytokines and inflammation-related enzymes. There doesn’t seem to be any serious adverse effects of green tea consumption but in very high amounts these beneficial compounds can actually be damaging to your liver, so always be careful when supplementing with things like green tea extract.
Organic berries such as blueberries and acai
Berries are high in antioxidants and poly phenols. The most notable polyphenols in berries are anthocyanins, responsible for their distinctive colours of red, blue, and purple. This powerful antioxidant may reduce inflammatory markers and oxidative stress on your body. Berries such as blueberries, acai berries and maqui berries all have high levels of anthocyanins. Consume berries in moderation as lots of them are high in sugar.
Oily Fish is high in omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. These essential fatty acids have been shown to suppress the pro-inflammatory pathways within the body, however are necessary for various processes. It is better to go for smaller fish such as sardines and mackerel as these not only have higher concentrations of Omega 3’s but also to avoid over consumption of heavy metals which are in higher concentrations in larger fish.
Dark leafy greens, spinach and kale
Leafy greens are high in essential vitamins and minerals. Your dark leafy greens are a power house for your body. The anti-inflammatory effects seem to be due to their high concentrations of plant polyphenols, carotenoids and anti-oxidants.
Fermented foods and probiotics such as kefir and sauerkraut are also worth a mention. The emerging science of the miro-biome suggests a lot of the systemic inflammation could be originating from our gut. One of the most powerful things we can do to improve our overall wellbeing and hopefully improve our inflammatory status is to work on our gut health.
Speak to our qualified instore naturopaths about what supplements may be suitable for inflammation.
For further content on inflammation click here
By Josh Gaudry ~ Food Scientist