Top Anti Inflammatory Foods, Herbs and Spices in 2018

The best anti inflammatory foods, herbs and species for inflammation and pain relief

Inflammation in the body has a good and bad side to it. On the one hand inflammation is necessary to help us fight infection, heal wounds; but if there is excessive inflammation it can also do the opposite and prevent healing. Inflammation can be triggered by viruses, bacteria, yeast infections, and even something as harmless as grass pollen. Dysregulation of the immune system is a common problem and can be caused by genetics and diet.

Many people live with low level chronic inflammation that puts them at risk of a heart attack and stroke. Poor dental health is one example where ongoing long term inflammation or gum diseases can significantly raise the risk of a heart attack. It is believed that the bacteria cause the body to produce chemicals that raises inflammation which then cause damage to the arteries.

Our body has the ability to quell inflammation and calorie restriction itself is one way to dramatically reduce the level of chronic inflammation in humans. In the study conducted at WUSTL researchers found that people who had been doing long term calorie restriction had almost undetectable levels of inflammation as measured by C-Reactive Protein – which is a protein that is produced by our liver in the presence of inflammation in the body. CR is powerful, but the diet is a big component of the diets effects.

Nature Provides Effective and Natural Anti Inflammatory Compounds

Take Aspirin for example: it is derived from from willow bark and is an effective anti inflammatory that millions of people take for their aches and pains when they get a cold or the flu. It also acts as an anti-pyretic so it reduces body temperature when you have a fever.

There has been some research that suggests taking low dose aspirin might even protect against cancer and possibly extend health-span.

And then we could look at NSAIDs like Ibuprofen: these are selective COX-2 inhibitors and helps reduce inflammation. However, long term use of these have been questioned because it may raise the risk of heart disease.

In my opinion, it is fine to use these type of medications when we really need them, but we should not completely rely on them. We should look at some of the natural remedies for inflammation that can help balance out the immune system.

Top anti inflammatory foods to fight inflammation

There are many different foods that you can eat which have a powerful effect in the body at reducing inflammation and preventing disease. I have chosen these specific foods not because they are some of my favourite, but because they have some good scientific evidence to back them up. I hope this gives you a good idea of the foods to include in your diet if you want to help reduce inflammation

Below are 8 different foods and drinks that will help fight inflammation in the body:

 

PINEAPPLE

Pineapple fight inflammation in the body

Pineapple’s are one of my favourite fruits and are great to have in smoothies. Pineapple’s help fight inflammation, reduce swelling, and speed up healing time because it has an enzyme called Bromelain. Multiple studies have shown that Bromelain speed up wound healing and improves recovery time from exercise. If you don’t like Pineapple’s, you can take the enzyme Bromelain in supplement form. Taking it together with Quercetin (powerful antioxidant) has a stronger anti-inflammatory effect.

CHOCOLATE

dark chocolate reduces inflammation in the body

Did you know the oldest women to ever live ate chocolate every day? Her name was Jean Calment and she was 122 years old when she died. She claimed that she ate roughly 2.2 lbs of chocolate per week! So why is chocolate good for you? Well, dark chocolate is flavonal-rich and these compounds help reduce inflammation, relax the blood vessels and for some provide stress relief. Dark chocolate increases the expression of anti-inflammatory cytokines and blunting inflammatory mediators such as NF-kB IL-1B and IL-6. The higher the epicatetchin in the chocolate, the larger the effect. Dark chocolate also contains small amounts of Resveratrol which is thought to partially mimic some of the effects of calorie restriction. When choosing dark chocolate make sure you choose at least 70% of higher.

GREEN TEA

What Are The Best Anti Inflammatory Foods To Eat?

Wake up to a cup of Green Tea. This drink is very popular in Asia, but less so in the West. If there is one thing you should add to your life every day, it’s green tea. It contains many beneficial compounds like polyphenols, catechins, flavonoids. Green Tea also provides L-theanine which is relaxing. Drinking up to 10 cups of green tea a day has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer by over 40% and reduce the risk of death overall. If you drink green tea, make sure you don’t add any milk. Casein can bind to the polyphenols and reduce the bioavailability of these beneficial compounds.

TURMERIC

Turmeric is a powerful anti inflammatory food

Turmeric has been studied largely because it contains a powerful compound called Curcumin. Turmeric is very useful for chronic inflammatory conditions and helps reduce the need for anti inflammatory pain medication. Think about drinking a cup of Turmeric tea before bed. You could add it to green tea, put in some honey and lemon to make it taste better. You can also add turmeric to foods of course. Read the lessons learned from clinical trials using Curcumin.

OLIVE OIL

Foods that help reduce inflammation in the body

Olive oil is a staple of the traditional Mediterranean diet. It can be used with so many foods and dishes and as long as you bought a decent quality extra virgin olive oil, you’ll get the health benefits from it. Olive Oil contains a compound called Oleic Acid and has similar anti inflammatory and pain reduces properties as Ibuprofen, but to a lesser degree. A BBC article reported that 50 grams of Extra Virgin Olive Oil was equivalent to 1/10th the dose of ibuprofen. Jean Calment, the lady who lived to 122, also used to consume lots of Olive Oil.

WALNUTS 

Walnuts are high in anti inflammatory omega 3 fats

Walnuts can be a great snack by itself or combined with other things. Walnuts contain a good amount of omega 3 fatty acids and that helps fight inflammation in the body. Walnuts also contain something called Melatonin, which is a potent antioxidant that is produced by humans naturally and helps us sleep. It also has many other functions in the body related to neural and immune function.

RED APPLES

Red apples are high in anti inflammatory compounds like quercetin

Red Apples generally have the highest amount of Quercetin, but it depends on the variety. Quercetin is a powerful anti inflammatory. Quercetin has been found to be beneficial in preventing the flu, colds and bacterial infections. Quercetin is also quite effective in reducing allergies. Apples also contain a fibre called Pectin in the skin, and this also has many other benefits.

BERRIES

Berries help reduce inflammation in the body

Eat berries. Eat lots of berries! Berries have a smaller effect on blood sugar compared to other fruits, so you can eat more liberally. In fact, adding blueberries to smoothies and other high sugar foods can blunt the rise in blood sugar. High blood sugar is one of the things which can cause inflammation and lead to increased risk of infections. Berries contain many polyphenols and anthocyanins which help reduce inflammation in the body and promote health.

Inflammation Has A Role in Aging

Inflammation in the body can slowly cause the body to fail. It starts small, and the effects over time become larger when it reaches a critical threshold. The role of inflammation in ageing is significant. Obesity, junk food, smoking, pollution, chronic infections, stress and so many other things all increase the level of inflammation in our body. The inflammation doesn’t have to be obvious either. It can be chronic low grade inflammation that you would not feel or know about, but it’s there and can be slowly damaging your body and mind.

The best foods to fight inflammation are fruits and vegetables with dark pigments – deep purples, reds, and orange. Natural and healthy foods are full of vibrant colours, these are from some of the beneficial compounds found within them. In contrast, processed food often looks dull and not so vibrant.

To give you an idea of what foods to avoid that contribute to inflammation, here’s a list.

Foods and Ingredients That Cause Inflammation That You Should Limit

  • Vegetable oils – trans fats, sunflower oil, safflower oil and palm oil.
  • Fried foods – Advanced glycation end products (AGE’s) are a major factor in inflammation and aging.
  • Refined Sugar – Sugar increases the body’s inflammation and suppresses our immune system making us more likely to get sick. Stick to natural plant-based foods and avoid sugary drinks.
  • White Flour – Choose whole grains over white flour based products. Spikes in insulin and blood sugar contribute to inflammation and aging
  • Saturated Fats – Although not all saturated fats are equally as harmful, you are best limiting intake of saturated fats as they have been shown to increase systemic inflammation in the body
  • Processed Meats – Meats that are cooked at high temperatures create AGE’s. Processed meat has also been linked to common bowel cancers.

If you follow some of these steps, you will be able to reduce the damage inflammation is doing in your body. Try to make some of the foods that I mentioned a staple of your diet. Rotate the foods you eat so you’re not eating the same thing every day. Experiment with different combinations of foods and see what works best for you.

Remember it’s always best to prevent disease than wait until you have it. Small but consistent changes can change your life. Be mindful of what you eat, and be well!

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Supplements Every Vegetarian Should Take

Supplements Every Vegetarian Should Be Taking

When becoming a vegetarian, people can sometimes run into problems from lacking different vitamins and minerals that are usually present in animal products. There are certain supplements every vegetarian should take or consider taking if they are planning to do this diet for the long term.

If you haven’t yet read my guide on how to stay healthy on a vegan diet, go and check that out.

Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D3 are two vitamins which both vegans and vegetarians alike can be very deficient in. One of the problems with getting D3 is the source, but fortunately, there are good plant-based sources like lichens where we can get vitamin D. You’ll also find most of these supplements I recommend here in vegan multivitamins.

I’ve been involved in various online health communities and forums in the last 14 years and I’ve noticed a lot of misinformation about nutrition and the need for supplements. People try so hard to become 100% natural, they neglect the real and dangerous pitfalls of abstaining from certain food groups. Deficiencies can sometimes take a long time to develop because the body can store things like vitamin B12 and so it takes a while before stores are depleted.

One problem I developed after I had been eating this way for a for a while was a deficiency in Zinc. I developed many symptoms such as acne, poor immune system, rough skin, hair loss and more. Since supplementing zinc picolinate, these symptoms rapidly went away and now I consistently supplement every day.

What Vitamins Do Vegetarians Need To Take?

Vitamin B12 

This vitamin is important for a wide range of functions in the body and becomes deficient in it can have permanent consequences to your health. Low levels of vitamin B12 on a vegetarian diet might also increase the risk of heart disease by raising levels of homocysteine. The protection again heart disease offered by going vegetarian might be reversed by not getting enough B12.

In one study researchers discovered that 52% of vegans, 7% of vegetarians and 1% of omnivores were deficient (1). However, in another study, they found elevated levels of methylmalonic acid (MMA) in 68% of vegetarians and 92%! of vegans; while only 16% of omnivores had elevated levels of MMA. (2).

If you are eating a diet that excludes animal products, you should take a vitamin B12 supplement and choose sublingual methylcobalamin. Vitamin B12 is a supplement every vegetarian should take as it is one of the most dangerous deficiencies you can develop on this lifestyle, and one of the most reported in these groups.

Symptoms of B12 deficiency include tiredness, shortness of breath, sore tongue, tingling, numbness, neurological dysfunction, poor memory, permanent nerve damage, vision loss and more.

I’ve put vitamin B12 at the top of the list because I believe it is the most important and overlooked vitamin deficiency for vegetarians. Everyone eating a vegetarian diet should take vitamin B12. If you’re not already taking a B12 supplement and you’re a vegetarian, you should start supplementing it.

Vitamin D 

Deficiency of Vitamin D is widespread whatever lifestyle people are doing. Avoiding foods that have Vitamin D in them, as well as not getting enough sun (especially people in the northern hemisphere and have dark skin) will cause you to be at risk of developing vitamin D deficiency or having very low levels that it negatively impacts your health.

How much is enough? Around 1000 – 2000 IU should be sufficient to raise vitamin D levels to a healthy level in adults and is also safe in pregnant women and children. (3, 4).

Adequate levels of 25(OH)D might lower the risk of infections, cancer, autoimmune diseases, fractures, and lower the risk of heart disease. It was also reported that higher levels of vitamin D might lower the rate at which the telomeres shorten, possibly indicating a slower rate of cell aging.

Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include muscle pain and weakness, fatigue, bone pain, difficulty in thinking clearly, depression, bone fractures, hair loss, poor immunity and more.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and therefore you do not have to take it every day. In fact, you could take one high dose every week or month, but I prefer to take it daily.

What Minerals Should You Take On A Vegetarian Diet?

Iron  Women are more at risk of anemia than men, but this risk is increased further by becoming vegetarian (5). Although vegetarians get a plenty of iron from plant foods, the form of iron is not absorbed as well as from animal food.  Vegetarians also tend to eat a lot of foods that are high in other things such as phytates, which can inhibit the absorption of iron. Good sources of iron include dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale. Beans and peas are also good sources of this mineral.

There have been a few reports from both men and women on calorie restricted or vegetarian diet, who have been deficient in iron and developed anemia as a result. Before taking any iron supplements, I think it is best to get tested by your doctor and then consider taking iron if you need to. This is more relevant to women than men, but it is something to keep an eye on.

Symptoms of Iron deficiency include intense fatigue and tiredness, rapid breathing, hair loss, pale skin and lips, palpitations, poor immunity and more.

Zinc 

One of the things in a standard western diet that people get plenty of is Zinc. Standard western diet might contain enough Zinc, but for raw foodists, vegetarians, and people who practice calorie restriction with optimal nutrition, we tend to have a lot of copper in our diets, but too little zinc. Deficiency of zinc can often be mild, and symptoms will be fairly subtle. These symptoms – to an extent – might be ameliorated by the diet itself which helps the body cope.

Use CRON-O-METER to see much zinc you are getting compared to zinc, and try to aim for a ratio of 8:1 to 10:1. So for example: for every 1 mg of copper in your diet, you want to make sure you are getting 8 mg of zinc.

Symptoms of Zinc deficiency include acne, poor immunity, dry skin, hair loss, poor appetite, mouth ulcers, and sores.

Zinc deficiency is easily correctable by taking a zinc supplement. There are many different zinc supplements you can choose from with some being better than others. I recommend trying Zinc Picolinate as it is one of the most bioavailable zinc supplements you can buy and it’s fairly easy on the stomach if you take it with some food.

I wouldn’t recommend taking this supplement continuously at such a high dose, but within a short period of time you might notice improved immune system and you’re not getting sick as often. You’ll likely feel more energy, especially if you’re low in Zinc. Some people even report having vivid dreams when taking it! I did initially but this effect only lasted a few weeks.

Iodine

Iodine is a mineral that if often forgotten, but it plays an important role in the body, especially the thyroid. Important for metabolic processes in the body and regulation of growth and energy expenditure.

In 2003 there was a study published which showed that 25% of vegetarians suffered from iodine deficiency compared to just 9% of people eating a standard mixed diet (6).

Symptoms of Iodine deficiency include lethargy and tiredness, weight gain, poor memory and difficulty concentrating on tasks. If you’re feeling colder than usual, this might be a sign. However, calorie restriction usually leads to a significant decrease in core body temperature and this will cause you to feel cold and is not a symptom of anything serious. I recommend including a thyroid test (fT3, fT4 and TSH) in your regular blood test panel.

Including sea vegetables in your diet is one solution: these include foods like kelp, kombu. Cranberries are also another food which is rich in iodine. Alternatively, you could also take a supplement which contains iodine (it’s often included in many popular multivitamins).

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References

1. Gilsing AM1, Crowe FL, Lloyd-Wright Z, Sanders TA, Appleby PN, Allen NE, Key TJ. Serum concentrations of vitamin B12 and folate in British male omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans: results from a cross-sectional analysis of the EPIC-Oxford cohort study

2. Herrmann W1, Schorr H, Obeid R, Geisel J. Vitamin B-12 status, particularly holotranscobalamin II and methylmalonic acid concentrations, and hyperhomocysteinemia in vegetarians

3. Joyce Maalouf, Mona Nabulsi, Reinhold Vieth, Samantha Kimball, Rola El-Rassi, Ziyad Mahfoud, and Ghada El-Hajj Fuleihan
Short- and Long-Term Safety of Weekly High-Dose Vitamin D3 Supplementation in School Children

4. Shahnaz Ahmad Mir, Shariq Rashid Masoodi,1 Shafia Shafi,2 Iqra Hameed,3 Maqsood Ahmad Dar,1 Mir Iftikhar Bashir,1 Arshad Iqbal Wani,1 Zaffar Amin Shah,4 Shameema Parveen,5 Abdul Hamid Zargar,1 and Parviz Ahmad Shah
Efficacy and safety of Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy: A randomized trial of two different levels of dosing on maternal and neonatal Vitamin D outcome

5. Roman Pawlak, PhD, RD, Julia Berger, BS, Ian Hines, PhD. Iron Status of Vegetarian Adults. Review of Literature.

6. Krajcovicová-Kudlácková M1, Bucková K, Klimes I, Seboková E.. Iodine deficiency in vegetarians and vegans.