What is inflammation?
Acting as an intrinsic regulator keeping illness at bay, inflammation by nature has a critical role to heal our bodies. Our immune system is prompted as the first line of defence to identify when our cells are damaged, irritated or if pathogens are floating around when they shouldn’t be. The inflammatory response acts as a self-protectant to remove these irritants, and initiate the healing journey. Not only do bugs and bacteria cause inflammation but allergenic substances or foods and chemicals can also aggravate us.
Being in the spotlight as of late, long term inflammation has quickly been touted as a key contributor to disease, illness and even cancer.
Inflammation can be rightly triggered to work in your favour, but if inflammation persists this can be counterproductive for health.
There are main two types of inflammation:
- Acute inflammation being a short lived rapid onset type of inflammation, whereby a state of balance is normally achieved within a few hours or days.
- Chronic inflammation often begins with a similar response as acute, but persists for months (or even years!) when the immune system response fails to remedy the problem. A low-level state of inflammation can remain activated without prominent symptoms. If this continues, real health issues can arise when our white blood cells attack healthy tissues, setting up a chronic inflammatory response. This is the type of inflammation that can play a central role to diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and so on.
Nutrient rich food has been identified as a way to reduce inflammation. While we can easily address those types of food that can contribute to causing, or retaining, inflammation, when it comes to healthy living its more productive to concentrate on what we can eat, rather than what we shouldn’t (or we focus too much on these and consequently desire them more!). Rule of thumb for foods to limit, anything overly processed with un-natural ingredients!
Eating natural, nutrient rich foods in abundance and reducing processed foods, can have noticeable effects on physical and emotional health. Below are some anti-inflammatory specific foods research has reported to alleviate inflammation:
- Fruits and vegetables, and a variety of them! Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, broccoli and brussel sprouts are rich in vitamin K that research has shown to help curb inflammation.
- Berries such as cherries, raspberries and blackberries have a type of pigment, giving them their colour (the pigment being high phytochemicals) which help to reduce inflammation and have disease fighting properties.
- Whole grains, that are unrefined, are high in fibre may help with inflammation. Oats and psyllium husk are great high fibre options that can promote lower levels of inflammation in the body. These are both soluble fibre options, which helps to stimulate our gut and slows digestion.
- Plant-based sources of protein like beans (being high in fibre), nuts and seeds are often loaded with antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory substances. Chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans are a few beans that you may already be incorporating into your diet – if not, try swapping out your meat protein for beans such as having a black bean taco or try this Black Bean soup recipe (shown below).
- Swap out the naughty fats for the good ones! Olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds are a few nourishing choices. Flax and chia seeds are health additions and a great source of omega 3s. Omega 3s contain alpha linolenic acid (ALA), which has anti-inflammatory properties in the body.
- Also high in omegas, is certain types of fish like salmon, sardines and anchovies which will give a heart-healthy dose of good fats.
We have made it easy for you and the recipes below are some quick and delicious options that include a range of the above inflammatory reducing foods. From vegetables to fibrous beans and omegas, the salads below contain a powerful combination to help keep inflammation manageable, and avoided!
Quinoa Chickpea Bowl
Quinoa Pomegranate Almond Crunch Salad
For more recipes, click here to access over hundreds of recipes to get you on track for a healthier you.