In honour of National Arthritis Week, taking place from 8th-14th April, we thought there was no better time for an article on Anti-Inflammatory diets, a way of eating that protects our cells and our organs from low level chronic inflammation by reducing the inflammation.
The diet, used to control conditions such as Arthritis, Psoriasis, Asthma and heart conditions doesn’t just target people with these specific conditions, but is beneficial for most of the population. Most of these conditions have the common underlying problem of inflammation, which is actually a natural process in our bodies and is proof that our bodies are working effectively, just like when you experience swelling, pain and redness when injured.
Usually inflammation helps us when injured. However, under some circumstances chronic inflammation can damage our health and if cells remain inflamed for too long, this is where damage is done and issues arise.
The Anti-Inflammatory way of eating mimics a Mediterranean diet; Plenty of oily fish with fresh fruit and veg, healthy fats and an abundance of herbs and spices. So what changes can you make to your diet to make it more anti-inflammatory? Below we have listed some key changes you can make today:
Herbs and Spices including Turmeric which reduces inflammation and modifies immune responses and garlic which inhibits pro-inflammatory cytokines and in turn reduces inflammation, are crucial to this style of eating. Replace salt and sauces with plenty of herbs and spices and you will be well on your way to eating an anti-inflammatory diet.
Fish such as Salmon, Mackerel and Sardines are loaded with Omega-3 poly-unsaturated fats, which is critical for an anti- inflammatory diet. Aim to include at least 2 portions of oily fish a week .
Nuts, especially pecans, hazelnuts and almonds are rich in Vitamin E which protects the body against harmful Free Radicals and are known to reduce inflammation.
Beans such as black, pinto and kidney beans are beneficial in reducing inflammation, possibly due to their Magnesium content.
Olive oil contains Polyphenols, a nutrient that prevents the release of pro-inflammatory compounds. Using Olive oil instead of butter/other oils will get you on track!
Wholegrains such as brown rice, seeded brown bread and grains such as quinoa are rich in fibre, which has been suggested to help with inflammation.
Vegetables, especially vitamin K rich greens such as spinach and kale are known for curbing inflammatory responses within the body.
What to avoid: Red meat, processed foods, refined carbohydrates, fizzy beverages and alcohol can all contribute to inflammation so should be limited.
There is some evidence to suggest that foods in the ‘nightshade’ family such as aubergine, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes can actually trigger inflammation. However, the evidence is currently not strong enough to say that they shouldn’t have a place in an anti-inflammatory diet.