Reducing inflammation through optimal nutrition

By Jenny Tschiesche BSc(Hons) Dip(ION) FdSc BANT

Reducing inflammation through optimal nutrition

Inflammation is a healthy bodily process. We need inflammation for the immune system to signal to damaged tissue to heal and to fight off infection but too much inflammation in the body is associated with disease too.  For example, inflammation in the heart, and arterial and venous walls contributes to heart disease, strokes and even anaemia, whilst inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract is linked to Crohn’s disease and coeliac disease.

The key to optimal health is balancing inflammation. We want neither too much nor too little. Yet without sufficient knowledge we are powerless to achieve this goal. Some might turn to the pharmaceutical industry for a quick fix when inflammation gets out of control but there really isn’t a one pill solution to this problem. Diet, however, can play a huge role in achieving balance.

What follows is guide to the best food groups for balancing inflammation in the body. The objective of is to allow the body to produce a healthy inflammatory response when required but not to cause excess inflammation:

 

  1. Fruits and vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables - such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale contain sulforaphane, which fights inflammation by reducing your levels of cytokines.

Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries contain antioxidants known as anthocyanins which are known to reduce inflammation.

Fruits and Vegetables

Citrus fruits, tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, and grapes are also inflammation-fighting.

️ Aim to eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

 

  1. Wholegrains

Oats, brown rice and whole wheat bread and pasta are high in fibre, antioxidant-rich and nutrient-dense. Wholegrains are associated with a significant decrease in inflammatory markers.

️ Simply swap refined grains for foods that list a whole grain as the first ingredient.

 

  1. Pulses

Pulses include all beans, peas and lentils. They’re high in fibre, antioxidants, and magnesium, which is known to reduce inflammation.

pulses

️ Incorporate black beans, chickpeas, peas, lentils, kidney beans, runner beans into your recipes.

 

  1. Healthy fats

Monounsaturated fats, found in nuts, seeds and avocados provide inflammation-fighting antioxidants.

Omega 3 fats found in fish, especially salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring have been shown to prevent the formation of inflammatory compounds and help destroy them. These omega-3s can be found in pine nuts, walnuts, flax and sunflower seeds but are less accessible.

 Replace margarine and vegetable oils with olive oil, avocados, and seed and nut butters

 

  1. Herbs and spices

Turmeric contains curcumin, chilli peppers contain capsaicin, black pepper contains piperine, and rosemary contains rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid, all of which have been proven to fight inflammation.

Herbs & Spices

 Season dishes with fresh herbs and spices as often as possible

 

  1. Coffee, tea and dark chocolate

Coffee, tea (especially green tea) and dark chocolate are rich in polyphenols, which help to tackle inflammation. They also contain caffeine, which offers protection against inflammation in the brain.

 Enjoy a little dark chocolate with at least 70 per cent cocoa solids and enjoy your tea or coffee without milk and sugar/syrups, which release pro-inflammatory substances in the body.

Armed with this knowledge you can make informed decisions about the food and drink choices you make to balance the level of inflammation in your own body