Inflammation And How To Prevent It
While inflammation is one of the most overlooked health issues today, it has some of the deadliest risks and association with heart disease. In a healthy situation, inflammation is normal. It occurs in response to invaders in the body such as pollen, stress or infection and works to fight them. However, the part where inflammation gets problematic is when it lingers on even after your immune system has done its job. This is chronic inflammation and it has a direct link with food. Generally, we know the rule of thumb – avoid sugary, refined foods – they are major triggers of chronic inflammation, but explained below are the superfoods you should ADD to your diet to fight and prevent inflammation. The Mediterranean Diet, which you know I love naturally fights inflammation by incorporating healthy fats, leafy vegetables and fruits in your diet. I’ve included some of the main ingredients of the Mediterranean Diet which make it so healthy, specifically those that fight off inflammation, along with others.
Include: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, mulberries, gooseberries, goji berries, pomegranates
Just when I thought I ran out of reasons to love my color packed, fiber dense berries, I learnt that they contain compounds called anthocyanin, which are known to fight off inflammation. Berries are a great way to start off your morning, but if you want to switch things up, try my Sweet Protein Berry Smoothie for an on the go source of berries. They’re natural antioxidants and polyphenols—protective compounds found in plants which have contribute to additional health benefits such as glowing skin and hair along with the anti-inflammatory properties berries have to offer.
Include: avocados, nuts, extra-virgin olive oil, salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, chia seeds
The aforementioned fish are excellent sources of long chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA which decrease the risk of inflammation that may lead to metabolic syndrome, heart and kidney disease, diabetes etc. These omega-3 fatty acids metabolise into compounds called resolvins and protectins, which have anti-inflammatory effects. My favourite way to eat fish, something I tell everyone, is when the fish is cooked in the simplest manner possible, retaining all its nutrients and succulent taste – my Baked Salmon does justice!
Avocados too are shown to reduce levels of inflammation markers in the body and are a great sources of disease fighting monounsaturated fats! Avocados, if eaten in moderation are amazing – I love topping my toast with 2-3 slices for breakfast!
Include: matcha, any variety of green loose leaf tea
One of my favourite (non-alcoholic) drinks are teas – matcha being the absolute winner. Fortunately, matcha is the healthiest of the lot, packing 3x more antioxidants than green tea! Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) – a substance found in teas contribute to their anti-inflammatory properties – making them the most calorie free ways to fight off inflammation. Additionally, having a cup of tea a day has naturally increased my water intake and replaced my need for caffeine packed coffees. I love starting my mornings with my Matcha Latte, which is easier on my system than having a coffee or cold brew. Its always a fun idea to throw in matcha into your pancakes or just add a teaspoon into your green juice. Go for an organic, high grade hand pounded matcha which may be slightly more expensive, but is worth the quality and benefits – this one from Ippudo Tea is one of the BEST in the game, seriously.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Include: kale, spinach, lettuce, swiss chard, mustard greens, turnip tips
Eat your greens, we’ve all heard that over and over again, by our mothers, grandmas, health articles – name it. But it takes a lot of growing up and exposure to the deadly diet linked diseases around us to realise that greens are truly the kings of the superfood kingdom. Leafy greens are loaded with anti-inflammatory flavonoids. I love cooking with swiss chard which is super high in antioxidants Vitamin A and C as well as Vitamin K which can protect your brain against stress caused by free radical damage. Why do we feel that green juice kick right after having a green smoothie or juice? It’s because they are found to have mood boosting chemicals which fight stress – another major, though overlooked, cause for inflammation. My favourite way to get those greens in is to drink, not eat them – you can try my Green Smoothie which is actually so, so delicious that my friends didn’t believe that it has greens in it!
Include: turmeric, pepper, chilli with small amounts of healthy fats
Turmeric’s primary compound curcumin is an ACTIVE anti-inflammatory component. A study showed that curcumin is actually more potent as an anti-inflammatory agent than ibuprofen and aspirin! I keep emphasising this, but incorporating pepper with turmeric facilitates the effects of turmeric by a significant amount. These spices are best to be had with healthy fats for maximum absorption. Spices and fats happen to the main components of Ayurvedic Indian dishes. My Vegan Cauliflower Korma is a lighter but equally flavourful version of Aloo Gobi, a famous Indian dish which tends to get a bit heavy. It incorporates all these spices and fats in moderate amounts and makes for crowd pleasing starters in parties or easy lunches and dinners!
If you focus more on what to ADD to your diet, instead of what to subtract, you will find your healthy, anti-inflammatory focused lifestyle and diet easier to transition to. Unlike Diabetes or heart attacks, Inflammation isn’t something we were grown up being fearful and cautious of, but it is the marker and precursor for many deadly diseases, which can be easily offsetted through diet! There’s nothing good, clean foods cannot do, and there’s nothing better than a healthy, happy mind and a healthy, happy body!