7 Dietary Tips To Fight Inflammation In Your Body
Inflammation in the body is a response to some form of chaos or stress that needs to heal.
Injuries like sprained ankles, cuts, bruises or corked muscles are obvious forms of inflammation that result from sudden trauma where the body's autogenic self healing system goes into overdrive to mend.
On the other hand, inflammation that takes place as a result of diet and lifestyle choices takes more time to show up and can cause any number of health problems if left unchecked.
Any kind of inflammation is usually your immune system's response to some form of irritant that it is struggling to deal with in your body. This response is a form of protection in the short term, however if you don't take notice of the signs and make changes, the long term response can be chronic, negatively impacting numerous parts of your anatomy and body systems.
As is the case with most health concerns, what you eat plays a crucial role in both healing and prevention, so here we share 7 dietary tips that can help you deal with inflammation before it takes hold and becomes a serious health problem.
Signs & Symptoms
Firstly, there are several signs that can indicate that you’re suffering from chronic inflammation in your body. Obvious signs include:
- Skin irritations
- Digestive problems
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Fluid Retention
- Redness around the eyes
- Muscle and joint pain
- Obesity and weight gain
Remember, these are signs that there is a problem that needs to be addressed, typically inside your gut that has been caused by a variety of dietary and lifestyle factors.
Read on to discover our top 7 dietary tips for avoiding and overcoming inflammation in your body…
1. Avoid Sugar & Processed Foods
When looking at dietary improvements for health and healing, it's always important to first highlight what you should avoid.
One of the worst offenders in terms of diet that can cause inflammation are refined or processed packaged foods.
These more often than not contain highly inflammatory substances such as:
- Refined white sugar - sodas, candy, lollies and snack foods etc.
- Cancer-causing chemicals - packaged foods and bottled sauces etc
- Artificial sweeteners - diet sodas, puddings, jams, jellies, canned foods etc
- Refined grains and wheat flour - white flour, white bread, white pasta, white rice, cookies, crackers etc.
- Processed Meats - bacon, salami, sausages and corned meats
- Trans Fats - hydrogenated vegetable oils, baked goods, frozen foods and margarine etc.
Eliminate these from your diet and instead replace them with an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains as a basis for your diet and you'll go a long way to avoiding signs of inflammation in your body.
2. Sulphur-Rich Vegetables
As a rough guideline, a plant-based rich in vegetables and cold-pressed plant oils is a good model to follow.
However, vegetables rich in the compound sulphur have proven to be extremely powerful in terms of their positive effects on reducing inflammation.
- Brussel sprouts
- Bok choy
3. Green Juices & Smoothies
If you find it difficult to fill your diet with lots of vegetables, cold-pressed green juices and smoothies can be a great way to get the nutrient density your body needs.
Example recipes include:
- Green Apple
- Coconut Water
- 1/2 Avocado
- 2 x Pitted Medjool Dates
The combinations are limitless so experiment with a variety of recipes to find your favourites. Juices and Smoothies are a great way to start your day because they're easy on your digestive system during the early part of the day when your body is still in its digestive cycle.
When juicing, the best method is to use a slow expeller cold press juicer which will keep your blends living and maintain the beneficial enzymes, vitamins and minerals.
A Vitamix or robust blender are ideal for preparing any kind of smoothies.
4. Raw Nuts
Healthy raw nuts are loaded with the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats but contain very little unhealthy saturated fat. As a result, nuts have major anti-inflammatory effects.
In particular, Almonds, Hazelnuts, Pecans, and Peanuts are excellent sources of vitamin E which is known to protect the body from the effects of harmful free radicals and has been shown to reduce inflammation. Walnuts should also be included as they are rich in Omega 3 fatty-acids which are known to reduce inflammation in the body
Raw nuts make an excellent any time snack food or as an addition to colourful raw salads. Some nuts can also be incorporated into vegetarian burgers, nut milks or enjoyed in the form of nut butters.
5. Cold-Pressed Plant Oils
Cold pressed oils retain the natural antioxidants that are otherwise damaged by exposure to heat in the production of regular, more inflammatory vegetable oils like canola, soy, corn and cottonseed.
Antioxidants help combat free radicals that cause cell damage in the body. Additionally, most cold pressed oils are rich in vitamin E, which has anti-inflammatory and healing properties.
Here is a short list of readily available cold-pressed plant oils that should form part of an anti-inflammatory diet:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Embraced for centuries in the mediterranean diet, extra virgin olive oil is one of the most recognised and consumed cold-pressed oils on earth. More than 70% of fats in olive oil are mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), making it the go-to choice for a healthy, dietary oil.
Be sure to always choose extra virgin olive oil made from pure, cold-pressed olives, versus regular olive oil which is a blend of both cold-pressed and processed oils that has been refined and has inflammatory compounds.
Use extra virgin olive oil in salad dressing, for dipping bread, light cooking and even in healthy green smoothies.
Pressed from the pulp not the seed, avocado oil has a full rich, lingering flavour. Its fat composition is comparable to that of olive oil, containing high monounsaturated fats.
Avocado is loaded with fatty acids that are anti-inflammatory in nature and it is very high in Vitamin E. The high smoke point also makes avocado oil suitable for high temperature cooking such as stir frying and high heat baking. It is also great drizzled over green salads.
Macadamia Oils is comprised of 60-80% monounsaturated fat which supports lowered cholesterol. It is also rich in the antioxidant, Vitamin E, and is known to improve insulin sensitivity and boost weight loss due to its natural appetite suppressing qualities.
Unlike extra virgin olive oil which has a strong distinctive flavour, macadamia oil imparts a mild nutty taste that does not overpower your favourite food. Due to its relatively high smoke point (about 210°C / 410°F ), it also makes a versatile oil that can be used in different types of cooking.
Known for its antiviral, antibacterial properties and anti-inflammatory benefits, raw cold-pressed coconut oil is an extremely versatile and healthy oil both in the kitchen and as part of your personal care routine.
Whilst coconut oil is very high in saturated fat, it’s important to know that not all saturated fats are equal. The medium-chain saturated fats in coconut oil do not raise levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) in the blood and deliver so many health benefits.
Coconut oil has a delightful taste and can be added to raw deserts and smoothies, is ideal for frying or baking (due to its very high heat point) and can be used to both nourish and soften the skin as a sun protector and for oral/dental hygiene.
Berries, especially blueberries, are packed with antioxidants called anthocyanins and a nutritional compound known as ellagic acid, that can help fight inflammation and cell damage.
In addition, they have polyphenols that help regulate your immune system, which can reduce chronic inflammation.
Eat a variety of berries, particularly when they're in season; blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and cranberries.
7. Citrus and Vitamin C Foods
Citrus foods, such as oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, lemons and limes, are rich in Vitamin C, renowned for its anti-inflammatory powers.
Vitamin C is necessary for the synthesis of collagen, which helps build and repair blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and bone, and is therefore beneficial to prevent and heal muscular-skeletal conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis.
In addition, Pineapple is also loaded with vitamin C and the enzyme bromelain, known to reduce pain and swelling for sufferers of osteoarthritis.
Add these fruits to salads, eat them on their own or turn them into refreshing cold-pressed juices.
Herbs & Spices
Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine has used herbs and spices to treat all manner of ailments for centuries.
These foods have been embraced due to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and because of the positive impact they have on the gut microbiome.
Inflammation and oxidation are closely related, therefore foods rich in antioxidants help to fight the free radicals that damage cells and lead to inflammation.
Our top choices are:
- Black Pepper
Include a variety of these spices into your regular diet and/or embrace those that are available in pure essential oil form.
- Clean Up Your Diet - in general, you should aim for at least 80% of your diet to be comprised of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains, with as much raw as you can handle. The other 20% can be a variety of cooked, more concentrated foods prepared from whole food ingredients without preservatives or additives - soups, bakes, stews, sauces, stir fries etc. If you're going to eat animal products, be sure that they fall into the 20% section and that they're from pasture raised or wild caught animals, without added hormones and organic where possible.
- Moderate low impact exercise to keep the blood moving and the joints and muscles flexible and supple;
- Infra-Red Saunas stimulate circulation in the skin and other parts of the body, delivering oxygen and nutrients to injured tissues to promote healing. It helps ease pain, relieve inflammation, and protect against oxidative stress.
- Staying properly hydrated can help keep inflammation under control. Water helps flush the body of toxins and other irritants. Plus, water is crucial to keeping many body systems in good working order, helping your body naturally tackle problems more efficiently.
- Get Sleep and Manage Stress - not enough sleep and excess stress, leads to an increase in inflammatory hormones. Sleeping for at least 7 to 8 hours a night can help your body recharge and better fight off stress-related hormones.
Remember, when you have an inflammatory response in your body, it's important to read the signs and to do something about it before it becomes a chronic health problem.
Many signs of inflammation are diet and lifestyle related, so by following some of the tips and suggestions in this article, you can support your body to get back to its intended function.
Finally, the "epicentre" of good health begins in the gut. For this reason, it’s important to pay attention to your gut health if you want to avoid recurring inflammatory conditions over time and to experience a life time of robust health and to dramatically reduce your risk of chronic disease.
Tolman Self Care.