Inflammation in the body is one of the biggest issues leading to chronic disease, such as obesity, arthritis, heart problems and even cancer.
But inflammation doesn’t necessarily show up through puffiness and redness. Most often, we have internal inflammation that isn’t visible to us, but is present inside our bodies (aka silent inflammation). It’s building up, and it’s causing (for now) just minor things such as digestive issues, allergies, and basic skin problems. And if you don’t work NOW to control this inflammation, it will leader to more serious illnesses down the road.
The easiest and most effective way to taper inflammation is through your diet. After all, food is your best medicine. Start by eliminating processed foods, and then adding in naturally anti-inflammatory foods, including a variety of high-quality spices and herbs.
The following 10 foods, herbs and spices are among the best natural sources for reducing inflammation. I’ve also included tips for easy way you can start incorporating them into your day-to-day diet.
1. Omega-3 fatty acids – from fatty fish like wild salmon, krill, as well as vegetarian sources like flaxseeds, chia seeds & olive oil. You can also consider taking a fish-oil supplement.
Tip: Try adding 1 tbsp of ground flaxseeds to your morning oatmeal / yogurt / smoothie.
2. Dark Leafy Greens – These are some of the healthiest foods period, and among other things, they help with your body’s detoxification, flushing out some of this inflammation. They also contain lots of fiber and water which help with weight loss and contributes to beautiful skin and hair (among so many other benefits)! These greens include leaves such as: kale, spinach, arugula, swiss chard, collard greens, mustard greens, escarole and watercress.
Tip: Start having a fresh or cold-pressed green juice once a day, either with breakfast or as a snack between meals.
3. Berries – Berries contain flavonoids which contribute to their blue/purple/red coloring and have powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. These include goji berries, blueberries, blackberries raspberries, cranberries, cherries, and less common ones such as bilberries, mulberries, elderberry and gooseberry.
Tip: Add a handful of berries to your breakfast porridge or yogurt, to your green smoothies, and/or enjoy them as a snack with a few raw nuts.
4. Green tea – Like berries (and many greens), this tea contains flavonoids with both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Green tea is said to help reduce the risks of certain cancers, lower bad cholesterol, help prevent cardiovascular disease and fight infections.
Tip: Start having a cup of warm green tea once a day. If the tea is too bitter for you, try adding steamed almond or soy milk, and also try lighter variations with sweater tastes. My favorite is Mighty Leaf tropical green tea.
5. Fermented vegetables – Rich in probiotics, fermented vegetables support immunity and help control against infections that are often an underlying cause of inflammation.
Tip: Start adding 2 forkfuls of raw sauerkraut to your lunch or dinner meals. A small amount every day can go a long way! If you like spicy, try some kimchi as well.
6. Sweet Potatoes & Yams – Not only are these veggies sweet and delicious, they also help heal inflammation in the body, AND are high in fiber, in much needed beta-carotene (Vitamin A), and in vitamins B6 and C. Plus, they’re known to help stabilize blood sugar and hormones. Pretty amazing!
Tip: Bake chopped sweet potatoes in the oven with some fresh rosemary and coconut (or olive) oil for a deliciously sweet and powerful anti-inflammatory snack / side dish.
7. Garlic & Onions - Garlic can help reduce inflammation, regulate glucose, and also contains sulfur compounds that help your body strengthen immunity and fight infection. Onions contain quercetin (like greens, berries & green tea), a potent antioxidant that can help your body fight inflammation. Like garlic, onions also have antimicrobial properties.
Tip: Try adding chopped garlic and onion to all your sautéed veggies, as well as your soups and stews for added flavor.
8. Ginger & Turmeric - Ginger is well known for its various health benefits, including its ability to reduce inflammation, relieve nausea and aid digestion. Turmeric is a powerful Asian spice (a root similar to ginger) that has a natural anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin (giving it its yellow color).
Note: You can buy both fresh ginger & turmeric root in most supermarkets, as a dried powder with the spices, or in the form of tea. Turmeric is also commonly found in curry spices. But if you’re using pure turmeric powder, mix it with black pepper to increase its potency!
Tip: Boil water with several slices of fresh ginger and turmeric for 15 mins, strain, add raw honey and fresh lemon juice to your hot water, and enjoy! I like to have this tea after a meal as it will also help with digestion and to control blood sugar levels.
Also, try adding some powdered turmeric, black pepper and/or curry to your quinoa for a different flavor.
9. Rosemary & Sage - studies show that sage can protect against inflammatory neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s, and is also said to improve memory and concentration. Rosemary has similar anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds as sage.
Tip: Both of these spices go well with sweet root veggies. Add fresh rosemary and olive oil to chopped sweet veggies (I love it with sweet potatoes!) and bake for 40 mins for a delicious savory dish. Add fresh sage to soups made with carrots/ parsnips/ squash before blending. Both herbs also pair well nicely with organic chicken or lamb.
10. Cinnamon & Cloves – Cinnamon is most famous for stabilizing blood sugar, but also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Cloves contain a compound similar to cinnamon that is known to protect against the inflammation that underlies cancer and other chronic diseases. Cloves also have powerful anti-fungal properties.
Tip: Add small amounts of powdered cinnamon and cloves (together with nutmeg & ginger) to your warm breakfast porridge and green smoothies. They also go well with roasted sweet potatoes for a sweet snack!
Don't wait until the inflammation becomes something worse. Don't wait until you're feeling ill - start taking action right away, adding these foods to your diet today! Make a goal to have at least one of these foods each day, and work your way up until you're having all of these foods each week. Make them part of your regular diet. (I even suggest printing this list and pasting on your fridge!)
BUT DON’T FORGET, to truly beat inflammation you must also avoid the big inflammatory foods such as: sugar and sugar substitutes, cheap vegetable oils, trans fats, processed meats, refined grains and flours, and artificial food additives and preservatives.
So cut out the processed junk, add in these wonderful foods, and embrace every day of your healthy life.
To your disease-free health,