6 ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOODS and INFLAMMATORY FOODS LIST
First up: What is Inflammation?
Well, I could not put it better than the Harvard Health Publications when they say:
“Doctors are learning that one of the best ways to quell inflammation lies not in the medicine cabinet, but in the refrigerator.
Your immune system attacks anything in your body that it recognizes as foreign—such as an invading microbe, plant pollen, or chemical. The process is called inflammation. Intermittent bouts of inflammation directed at truly threatening invaders protect your health.
However, sometimes inflammation persists, day in and day out, even when you are not threatened by a foreign invader. That’s when inflammation can become your enemy. Many major diseases that plague us—including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s—have been linked to chronic inflammation.
One of the most powerful tools to combat inflammation comes not from the pharmacy, but from the grocery store. “Many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects,” says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Choose the right foods, and you may be able to reduce your risk of illness. Consistently pick the wrong ones, and you could accelerate the inflammatory disease process”.
1. HOME MADE BONE BROTH
I fairly recently discovered that home made bone broth is a natural gut “healing and sealing” medicine.
The gelatine in bone broth protects and heals the mucosal lining of the digestive tract, helping regenerate tissue cells.
All the minerals in bone broth are in a form that is easily absorbed by the body: calcium, magnesium, sulphur, phosphorous, silicon. It contains glucosamine and chondroitin sulphates extracted from boiled down cartilage. These are also sold as expensive supplements for joint pain, while home made bone broth is so cheap.
It also fights inflammation thanks to amino acids such as glycine, proline, arginine.
2. OMEGA 3: FISH OIL, FLAXSEED, NUTS & SEEDS
For meat and fish to be full of omega 3, the animals and fishes need to be fed on grass, hay, plankton or bugs; NOT GRAIN! Otherwise they will be full of omega 6.
Now, I don’t go into the topic of Omega 3:6:7:9 here, but you should just know that 3 is the most important one and that 6 fights for space in the brain with 3.
Fish full of omega 3 DHA and EPA are:
Sardines, herring, anchovies, salmon, wild salmon, Mackerel,
Remember farmed fish is higher in omega 6, while sustainably line caught fish is full of omega 3. (Avoid mercury by not buying swordfish etc.)
Nuts full of omega 3 ALA:
Omega 3 comes in two forms, a ‘ready-to-be used’ form for the brain (Dha and EPA) and a shorter form found in nuts and seeds, ALA.
The incredible thing about nuts and seeds that I discovered recently is that they are all packed with enzyme inhibitors!
This means that they will neutralise the enzymes you created with your digestion and if these are already low it may make digestion very difficult.
Sometimes sprouting takes some time, so what I do is just soak them overnight and this apparently is enough to release enzyme inhibitors!
3. TURMERIC & GINGER
Better if taken in supplement form to fight inflammation.
With anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-gastric properties, it’s something that you need to keep up in your diet or introduce it if yet not used!!
Turmeric and ginger work in the body by helping to ‘turn off’ a pro-inflammatory signalling pathway that is activated by nuclear factor NF-kB, largely involved with cytokines, chemokines and adhesion molecules. Very interesting but I’ll save you the biology lesson!!
Organic and raw is best to get the full nutrients.
Garlic is a known immune busting food. A natural antibiotic, it kills bacteria and has anti-fungal and anti-viral properties.
It’s packed with the sulphur-rich amino acid, allicin, and has the protein based enzyme, allinase.
Garlic has also been demonstrated to work similarly to pain medications like Ibuprofen, shutting off the pathways that lead to inflammation.
5. DARK, LEAFY GREENS/
Studies have suggested that vitamin E plays a role in protecting the body from pro-inflammatory molecules such as Cytokines. They are also packed full of antioxidants.
Unless you are intolerant to solanine (present in tomatoes and all nightshades/ solanaceae food famiky), which can trigger an inflammatory response, tomatoes are rich in lycopene, which has been shown to reduce inflammation.
GENERALLY ALL ANTIOXIDANTS,COLOURFUL FRUIT AND VEGETABLES,BERRIES.
The foods below are inflammatory mainly because they affect good gut flora, which in turns affects permeability of the lining of the gut, or they affect blood sugar levels and insulin production in the body. All of these imbalances result in altered immune responses.
ARTIFICAL AND FOOD ADDITIVES/ PROCESSED FOODS
GRAINS especially if refined.
“GREY AREA” FOODS: SOY
For each piece of research I read about soy cancer promoting properties (especially connected with breast cancer it seams), I find another that says that it has anti-inflammatory properties. And the web is loaded with articles on the benefits of soy and as many other articles on its dangers!
It seems clear to me that it affects sex and thyroid hormones, altering normal levels, one way or the other.
Anyway it’s still a grey area and, to be honest, I still don’t really know exactly. However one thing helped me to make my conclusions:
The health minister of Israel warned against its use and clearly said it is to be avoided altogether for infant use. This has been confirmed by the German institute of risk assessment and the British Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Foods that warns against thyroid damage using soy.
Additionally a Cochrane review concluded by saying:
“Feeding with a soy formula cannot be recommended for prevention of allergy or food intolerance in infants at high risk of allergy or food intolerance.” Osborn DA, Sinn JKH 2006
Also, in 2010 a lawsuit was filed to stop feeding prisoners large quantities of soy products because of negative health consequences (digestive disorders, endocrine disorders).
So my conclusion on soy is: it’s not good for my health, I am not going to eat it!!
With the exception of occasional soya beans (endamame) and miso soup, which are the best, less processed forms. With some bioflavonoid properties.May be once or twice every 10 days or so.
After all a varied diet with little of everything is probably still the best option.
Happy healthy eating 🙂
PS. Yes, as a massage therapist and doula in North London I am a little off topic here! But nutrition is a big part of holistic health. My personal journey and passion for the topic, were too big to resist the temptation not to write about this!
I can’t finish this post without a mention to functional medicine, a branch of medicine that focuses on finding the cause of the issue rather then treating the symptoms. Assessing someone’s health with very scientific tests: blood tests, urine, faeces, breath test and genetic tests if needed.
After a thorough assessment, functional medicine doctors treat the issues with an integrated approach to health mainly through nutrition, addressing the lack of vitamins & minerals, amino acids etc. and some smartly selected medication if needed (e.g bio-identical versions)
Functional Medicine: an integrated approach to health.
Very supportive of alternative therapies yet scientific!
My idea of perfection! Bliss!
NOTE 1: I read and researched this topic broadly; below the references.
NOTE 2: No food is healthy if it’s process, fried, cooked in unhealthy fats or heavily salted! The list of healthy foods above applies to healthy cooking.
- Harvard Health Publications
- The Nuclear Factor NF-kB Pathway in Inflammation – Toby Lawrence
- “The mood cure” by Julia Ross
- “Gap and Psychology Syndrome” by Dr. Natasha Campbell Mc-Bride
- Cochrane review
- Well Being Journal
- “The whole soy story” By Dr. Kaayla T. Daniel
A Special Thank you to my wonderfully knowledgeable colleague
Naava Carman – The Fertility Support Company
Without whom I would not know about functional medicine today!
Thank you Naava.
Happy Healthy Living,
Pregnancy Massage specialist, Birth and Post-Natal Doula, Baby Massage Instructor.
Mobile; 07735 980 620
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