“Our food should be our medicine and our medicine our food” – Hippocrates.
After a long work day recently, I walked into my house and was greeted by the smell of freshly baked brownies, made by my husband and daughter. The house looked like a bomb had hit it, I was exhausted and the kids were wild but the brownies smelt good and suffice to say they were beckoning to me as a source of comfort. Those who know me well, know that I am very considerate of what I put in my body, opting for nourishing whole foods over anything processed and rarely consuming caffiene or alcohol. I am aware of what works for me and how the type and quantity of food along with the way in which I eat, affects my overall health.
Even with that knowlege, I decided I would get stuck into the gooey brownies and although I only had 2 pieces, I paid for it. The next morning, I felt like I had been hit by a truck. I was exhausted, my muscles ached, I was grumpy and I felt hungover……from brownies!
A couple of weeks later, my daughter, who is 3, attended a children’s party. I have always been mindful of what my children consume at parties and I’m sure I am judged for that; in fact my husband often says “chill out, it’s a party”, but I am concerned for good reason. Willow ate 2 fruit kebabs with a mashmallow on each one, a chocolate cake pop and a small amount of jelly. That doesn’t sound like too much but I assure you it was. When we returned home, she was out of control and I was traumatised. My beautiful little girl had been poisoned by whatever food colouring and sugar was in the party food and I felt like a bad mum for going against my instinct, just because “it was a party”.
Food is powerful and can either enhance your health or completely destroy it. The cleaner your system is, the less tolerant it is of foods that are detrimental to your health. These 2 events well and truly proved this point. Poor food choices can increase your toxic load and cause severe inflammation in your system. On the otherhand, choosing nutrient rich, wholefood can increase your experience of health and wellbeing.
Below I have created a list of my Top 10 Anti-inflammatory foods along with the 10 most Inflammatory foods. I am also including a recipe for a simple and delicious anti-inflammatory tumeric and ginger tea.
“Never,ever accept mediocrity posing as convenience. Care about what you eat: absolutely insist that it be delicious and true”. Jude Blereau in Wholefood
TOP 10 ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOODS
1. Wild Alaskan Salmon: Salmon contains anti-inflammatory omega-3s (wild is better than farmed) and has been known to help numerous ailments. Try and incorporate oily fish into your diet twice weekly. You are already taking a couple of high quality fish oil supplements which will certainly help.
2. Kelp: High in fiber, this brown algae extract helps control liver and lung cancer, douses inflammation, and is anti-tumor and anti-oxidative. Kombu, wakame and arame are good sources.
3. Extra Virgin Olive Oil: The secret to longevity in Mediterranean culture, this oil provides a healthy dose of fats that fights inflammation, lowers risk of asthma and arthritis, as well as protecting the heart and blood vessels. As discussed today, when Olive Oil is heated at a high temperature, it changes from a good fat to a nasty one so it is best used to drizzle on foods after cooking or on salads and raw veggies! Coconut oil is better for cooking as it has a high tolerance for heat.
4. Cruciferous Vegetables: Broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale and cauliflower are all loaded with antioxidants. Naturally detoxifying, they can help rid the body of possible harmful compounds. You will need to be wary of the level of sulphur in some of these veggies though!
5. Blueberries: Blueberries not only reduce inflammation, but they can protect the brain from aging and prevent diseases, such as cancer and dementia. Aim for organic berries, as pesticides are hard to wash away due to their size.
6. Turmeric: This powerful Asian spice contains a natural anti-inflammatory compound, curcumin, which is often found in curry blends. It is said to have the same effect as over-the counter pain relievers (but without their side effects).
7. Ginger: Ginger contains a host of health benefits. Among them, it helps reduce inflammation and control blood sugar. Ginger tea is a great addition to any diet.
8. Garlic: Garlic can help reduce inflammation, regulate glucose and help your body fight infection.
9. Green Tea: This tea contains anti-inflammatory flavonoids that may even help reduce the risks of certain cancers.
10. Sweet Potato: A great source of complex carbs, fiber, beta-carotene, manganese and vitamin B6 and C, these potatoes actually help heal inflammation in the body.
TOP 10 INFLAMMATORY FOODS
1. Sugar: Sugar is everywhere. Try and limit processed foods, desserts and snacks with excess sugar. Opt for fruit instead. NO MORE SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK!
2. Common Cooking Oils: Safflower, soy, sunflower, corn, and cottonseed. These oils promote inflammation and are made with cheaper ingredients.
3. Trans Fats: Trans fats increase bad cholesterol, promote inflammation, obesity and resistance to insulin. They are in fried foods, fast foods, commercially baked goods, such as peanut butter and items prepared with partially hydrogenated oil, margarine and vegetable oil.
4. Dairy: While kefir and some yogurts are acceptable, dairy is hard on the body. Milk is a common allergen that can trigger inflammation, stomach problems, skin rashes, hives and even breathing difficulties.
5. Feedlot-Raised Meat: Animals who are fed with grains like soy and corn contain high inflammation. These animals also gain excess fat and are injected with hormones and antibiotics. Always opt for organic, free-range meats who have been fed natural diets.
6. Red and Processed Meat: Red meat contains a molecule that humans don’t naturally produce called Neu5GC. Once you ingest this compound, your body develops antibodies which may trigger constant inflammatory responses. Reduce red meat consumption and replace with poultry, fish and learn cuts of red meat, once a week at most.
7. Alcohol: Regular consumption of alcohol causes irritation and inflammation to numerous organs, which can lead to cancer.
8. Refined Grains: “Refined” products have no fiber and have a high glycemic index. They are everywhere: white rice, white flour, white bread, pasta, pastries… Try and replace with minimally processed grains.
9. Artificial Food Additives: Aspartame and MSG are two common food additives that can trigger inflammation responses. Try and omit completely from the diet.
Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric and Ginger Tea Recipe
Use 1 teaspoon each of fresh grated turmeric and ginger roots/ 1 cup of water.
If you use ground turmeric and ginger, use 1/3 teaspoon each.
For extra flavour, raw/manuka honey to taste, and/or a slice of lemon.
Preparation: Bring water to the boil in a small saucepan. Add freshly grated turmeric and ginger, reduce heat, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. (Only boil for 7 minutes if using ground ginger and tumeric). Strain the tea and if you fancy, add the honey and lemon to taste).
How much and how often?
No official dosing instructions exist for ginger and turmeric tea. You can drink 1 cup of it on days you feel extra achy.
You may wish to consult your doctor before deciding if one or both herbs are be useful for you or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.