Inflammation is at the root of many chronic conditions. It can affect accelerated ageing, mess with your moods and your hormones and even affect your body’s ability to lose weight efficiently.
What you eat has a huge impact on your level of inflammation.
An anti-inflammatory diet is just as much about what you eliminate – sugar, alcohol, industrial seed oils, processed grains, poor quality and unethically raised animal protein – as it is what you include. So let’s keep the glass half full and focus on the foods to max out on when reducing inflammation is your aim.
1. A rainbow of vegetables and fruit
We all know we should be making friends with salad, but if you’re a creature of habit (looking at the broccoli and beans crowd here), then it’s time to step outside your comfort zone. All vegetables and fruit have their benefits, there is no single one that will meet all your needs. Each coloured fruit and vegetable provides different protective pigments, so the best choice is variety. Think about trying a new vegetable or fruit to add to your repertoire each week.
2. The anti-inflammatory spice: turmeric
More specifically curcumin, which is the active compound in turmeric, has been traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine and plenty of clinical research backs up its potent anti-inflammatory benefits. So, switch up the afternoon coffee for a turmeric latte, try some traditional Indian dahl made with turmeric and pepper (pepper aids absorption of curcumin), or sprinkle into a smoothie if you’re game!
3. Medicinal mushrooms
Mushrooms have a strong traditional use in Chinese Medicine, and research certainly backs up these claims. Some benefits include regulating the immune system, reducing inflammation, improving blood sugar and promoting lung health. While it’s great to include mushrooms in your diet, these medicinal mushrooms don’t include everyday button mushrooms, but instead refers to mushrooms such as reishi, cordyceps, maitake, trametes, shiitake, zhu ling and fu ling, all of which are available in supplemental form.
4. Fatty fish
Fatty fish including mackerel, sardines, salmon (with the skin!), herring, and anchovies are all examples of fish that’s rich in long chain omega-3 fatty acids. These particular compounds have an anti-inflammatory effects in your body. So, instead of light tuna, try some wild-caught canned salmon, or ditch the chicken at dinner and order a crispy skin salmon instead. Try to put fish on your dish at least twice a week.
5. Fermented foods and drinks
These are rich in beneficial bacteria (probiotics) which have been shown to reduce markers of inflammation in the body, reduce cortisol (a stress hormone) and promote both digestive and mental health. Fermented foods including kombucha, kefir, yoghurt, sauerkraut and kimchi contain probiotics. Switch out your cider for a kombucha on a Friday night, add some sauerkraut to your morning eggs, or have some kefir with berries for dessert.
6. Bone broth
While it may not be as sexy as the turmeric lattes, bone broth certainly deserves some attention for its anti-inflammatory and health-promoting benefits. It is made by slow cooking high quality gelatinous cuts of meat and bones. During this process, a mineral and collagen-rich liquid is created. Enjoy a hot cup pre-dinner, or try freezing the broth in ice cube containers and adding to your morning smoothie on warmer days.
Natalie Bourke, a holistic dietitian and nutritionist at BioCeuticals. Natalie is also a certified fitness instructor, speaker and presenter. Nat is passionate about helping women build a healthy relationship with food and their body; she achieves lasting results for her clients using whole food nutrition, functional medicine and holistic lifestyle advice.