The feeling of pain is your body’s way of telling you that there is inflammation present. Inflammation is associated with the classic symptoms of pain, redness, heat and swelling. It frequently accompanies injury and tissue trauma, such as sprains, strains, cuts and stings. However, what you may not realise is that inflammation can be a contributing factor to many health conditions and is a key component in the joint pain of arthritis, back pain and muscular aches, digestive disorders such inflammatory bowel disease, period pain, and many types of headaches. It is implicated in diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia, Alzheimer’s and most chronic health issues. This means that not only does reducing inflammation help you to feel better, but it improves your overall health and reduces risk of disease. This is where inflammatory foods need to be eliminated.
The term inflammation comes from the Latin word, ‘Inflammation’ which means to set on fire. Inflammation is like a small biological fire designed to ‘burn away’ harmful stimuli such as pathogens, allergens, injury or other irritants. It is a protective mechanism designed to remove these causative factors and initiate the healing response. So, short term inflammation can actually be beneficial to restoring health. However, inflammation can also be the result of poor diet and lifestyle factors and stress which can ignite, and keep this fire burning. This leads to systemic or chronic inflammatory problems.
For optimal health, it is important to dampen down the inflammatory response and put out this ‘fire’. Pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories are commonly used to help relieve pain and inflammation, however many of these carry unwanted side effects such as damage to your digestive tract and liver. Thankfully, there are many dietary and nutritional strategies that you can follow to reduce your inflammatory levels.
Food Can Produce or Reduce Inflammation
The typical Western diet may actually promote inflammation; high amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates break down quickly into glucose and have been shown to induce inflammatory changes that are linked with many chronic diseases. In some susceptible people, foods such as dairy products and gluten-containing grains can trigger an inflammatory response within the digestive tract and throughout the body
1) High sugar foods. Minimise foods such as white bread, pasta and processed cereals. These contain a lot of sugar. Stick with wholegrains like oats, brown rice, quinoa, spelt or buckwheat
2) Processed foods which always contain artificial colours, flavours and preservatives. All of these are chemical compounds made in a laboratory and toxic to the body.
3) Foods containing trans fats such as margarine and many processed foods
4) Red meat. Limit to 1 serving maximum a week and replace with fish, chicken or vegetarian proteins like chickpeas, lentils or tofu.
8) wheat 9) Yeast 10) Gluten can cause an issue in certain individuals. These I have grouped together as they are common allergens for many people and eliminating many of the commercial breads from your diet will get rid of all 3. There are many options these days if you still like to have bread but these are often found at your local organic or healthfood market. Many artisian bakers are also popping up that carry breads made from other ingredients eliminating the wheat, yeast and gluten
- Turmeric – This Ayurvedic herb has been used traditionally for the treatment of traumatic injury, and to reduce swelling and pain in arthritic conditions. Add dried turmeric into foods regularly- into curries, stir fry’s, rice, salad dressings or into meat marinades.
- Ginger- This is a fantastic anti-inflammatory. It also tastes great and can be easily added into fresh juices, smoothies, herbal tea or into stir frys, dressings and marinades.
- Omega 3 essential fatty acids from fish oil containing EPA and DHA, may reduce acute and chronic pain and inflammation. Supplementation will give you much higher dosages that you can get from eating fish. The best fish includes trout, tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel and any other oily fish. Other good sources include nuts (walnuts, cashews, almonds, macademias, brazil nuts), seeds (sunflower seeds, chia seeds, pepitas, sesame seeds) and avocado.
- Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Oranges are the only inflammatory plant based food and should be limited in people with chronic inflammation.
½ celery bunch
2 small carrots
2cmx2cm knob of ginger
½ a lemon
1cm x1cm knob of turmeric (or add ¼ tsp dried spice)