Wednesday 7 July 2021

10 Anti-Inflammatory foods you SHOULD be eating

What is inflammation?

Almost every disease in the body is caused by some sort of inflammation. Inflammation can be caused by eating processed foods and its why those with obesity are at a much greater risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Inflammation can also be caused by other factors such as stress and pollution. Specific inflammation can lead to pains, headaches and arthritis. Including the following anti-inflammatory foods in your diet will therefore reduce the risk of health complications and help you live a healthier and happier life!

Here are my favourite 10 anti-inflammatory foods and I have included top tips for each food, on how to incorporate them into your diet.

1. Cinnamon 

Cinnamon has been used for centuries as an anti inflammatory and studies have demonstrated that it can improve symptoms of a wide variety of inflammatory disorders such as gastric inflammation and arthritis. With arthritis, not only does Cinnamon reduce specific inflammation, it also boosts blood circulation in the body which reduces the pain. 

Top tip: Try sprinkling it on some cooked apples in the morning, or in your porridge. I also like to add it to curries or middle eastern inspired dishes. 

2. Turmeric

Turmeric is anti-inflammatory due to its high content of curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory nutrient. Actually, in Spanish, turmeric is ‘curcuma’ which is alike to its powerful compound curcumin. It may be hard to reap the benefits of turmeric by a little sprinkle in your curry but it definitely is better than nothing. Some people, including myself, take turmeric tablets like these.

Top tip: As said above, I like to take turmeric pills. Alternatively, you could buy fresh turmeric and grate it into smoothies or stews. If you only have the powdered version, that’s also ok! Load your curries up with this extremely healthy spice.

3. Ginger

Gingerol, shogaol, and paradol, which are the active constituents in ginger, are what make this spicy root so anti-inflammatory. Studies have shown that ginger inhibits the production of the pro-inflammatory cytokines that make inflammation happen more frequently in the body. 

Top tip: grate some into water in the morning (maybe add some lemon to offset the strong taste). Ginger teas are also great. I like to add ginger when I make sauces for my stir-fries: lemon, ginger and soya sauce boosts the flavour and the nutritional content.

4. Berries

Berries are full of antioxidants so it would be right to assume that they are also very anti-inflammatory. I love berries because 1. They are tasty but 2. They are a great natural source of energy and keep blood sugars stable. They are also thought to be one of the best ‘anti-ageing’ foods out there.

Top tip: frozen berries are cheaper and take only 30 mins to defrost in a bowl of water. You could buy a range of berries such as blueberries,s raspberries, strawberries and blackberries, and load up your breakfast with them every morning, as it is better to eat them in the morning. Also, eating a range of foods is better for your gut health - see post here).

5. Fatty Fish

As well as been an excellent source of omega 3 (read about the importance of Omega 3 in my post here), fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, anchovies contain anti inflammatory properties.

Top tip: Smoked salmon pasta is one of my favourites. I like to mix some courgette and plant-based cream with some gluten-free pasta and salmon for an extremely tasty meal.

Warning: I personally don’t buy farmed salmon as they contain high levels of contaminants and the dyes used are to make the malnourished fish look more ‘natural’. I stay away from Scottish salmon and opt for Wild Alaskan or Wild Norwegian salmon instead.

6. Avocados

Avocados are also a great source of monounsaturated fats including oleic acids which appear to have some anti inflammatory properties. A small proportion of the avocado is omega-3, a type of polyunsaturated fat with strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Top tip: Avocado on toast is always a classic but I also love to have guacamole as a dip. You could also try creating a Mexican bowl with beans, brown rice, peppers, onions and some sliced avocado. Avocado oil is also a great shout and its what I use for cooking on a high heat due to its high smoke point. 

7. Peppers

Many people don’t know that ½ of a red bell pepper contains 100% of your daily amount of vitamin C. They are packed with antioxidants such as quercetin, which showed to reduce a marker of an inflammatory disease called sarcoidosis. If we look at chilli peppers, they contain sinapic acid and ferulic acid, which may reduce inflammation and lead to healthier ageing.

Top tip: Chop up peppers into strips or cubes and add them into any meal: curries, stews, chillies, stir-fries. They are even better raw so add them to salads or use them to dip into guacamole for a double whammy.

8. Mushrooms

Mushrooms contain phenols and other antioxidants that provide anti-inflammatory protection. A type of mushroom called ‘lions mane’ is great for reducing inflammation caused by obesity-related illnesses.

Top tip:
Mushrooms can be used in a variety of dishes: risottos, stir fries, curries etc but you can also buy tablets. I particularly like this Mushroom Complex supplement which has Chaga, Cordyceps, Shiitake, Reishi, Lions Mae and Maitake with zero additives and is 100% vegan.

9. Grapes

In one study, people with heart disease who consumed grape extract daily experienced a decrease in inflammatory gene markers. Unfortunately, I'm not sure we could count wine in this as alcohol is definitely inflammatory.

Top tip: Try freezing grapes and eating them – they taste so delicious, especially on a hot day! 

10. Extra virgin olive oil 

Studies show that this amazing source of monounsaturated fats also reduces risk of heart disease, brain banker amongst other serious health conditions; A study into the Mediterranean diet showed that inflammatory markers were significantly decreased in those who consumed 50ml of olive oil daily. It just so happens that olive oil is a great source of healthy fats too.

Top tip: If you don’t want to do a shot of olive oil every morning like some of those in Spain and Greece, try pouring it on sourdough toast or bread as a snack with a pinch of high-quality salt. I wouldn’t recommend frying with olive oil as it releases toxins at high heat, as explained in my previous post.

Bonus: Dark Chocolate / Cocoa

The pure form of chocolate is packed with antioxidants and flavonols which are responsible for the anti-inflammatory effects. Note that cows milk is inflammatory so milk chocolate isn’t really going to cut it. Chocolate with >70 cocoa is what we should be aiming for. Top tip: buy cocoa powder and include in your porridge or granola for a chocolatey flavour and a health boost.


Inflammatory foods

In addition to filling your diet with nutritious anti-inflammatory ingredients, its important to reduce consumption of foods that can promote inflammation. This includes processed foods like fast food, frozen meals, fried foods, sodas and fizzy drinks, processed meats and hydrogenated oils. Refined carbohydrates have also been linked to increased inflammation: these are items such as white bread, pasta, white rice and crackers.

I hope this post helped you in some way. Whether you incorporate the mushroom complex or turmeric tablets into your life; or simply a couple of new fruits and veggies into your diet, it will make a difference! I hope to continue to provide information to help you live your healthiest, most fulfilling life!

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that any purchase you make from the links - I will get a very small commission. This does NOT result in any additional cost to you, and the affiliate money earnt will go back into creating the best content. Thanks for your support!


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