Controlling Inflammation with Food and Herbs
Joel Peterson – Level 5 Personal Trainer Apple Athletic Club
I am very keen on keeping inflammation under control with my clients. When we get sore from a hard workout we are experiencing an inflammatory process. I want to ease and control this discomfort as much as possible. But inflammation is much more than sore muscles. I want to teach my clients how to achieve excellent health along with physical fitness and controlling inflammation is a vital key to that process.
Medical science tells us that chronic inflammation is the source of many diseases, which essentially makes it a leading cause of death in the US.
While inflammation is a normal process that occurs as the body’s white blood cells and chemicals protect you from foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses, it leads to trouble when the inflammatory response gets out of hand. Your diet has a lot to do with this chain of events. Other reasons to consider a healthy diet your most potent weapon against disease are obesity and depression.
Herbs and spices, while among the most potent, are not the only anti-inflammatory ingredients available. A number of foods are well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Making sure you’re eating a wide variety of them on a regular basis can go a long way toward preventing chronic illness.
The key to reducing chronic inflammation in your body starts with your diet. Being liberal in your use of high-quality herbs and spices is one simple way to boost the quality of your food. Spicing up your meals is not enough, however, if processed foods comprise the bulk of your diet.
On a per gram fresh weight basis, herbs rank higher in antioxidant activity than fruits and vegetables, which are known to be high in antioxidants. Many studies have also shown that most spices tend to have unique medicinal qualities. Let’s take look at the most potent anti-inflammatory spices.
To learn the health values of these herbs and spices I suggest you purchase a good book on medicinal spices or do an internet search.
Top Seven Anti-Inflammatory Foods
The following foods and nutrients deserve special mention for their ability to quell inflammatory responses in your body:
- Animal-based omega-3 Fat: Animal-based omega-3 fats found in fatty fish like wild Alaskan salmon or krill oil help fight inflammation throughout your body. It’s particularly important for brain health.
- Leafy Greens: Dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collard greens and Swiss chard contain powerful antioxidants, flavonoids, carotenoids, and vitamin C all help protect against cellular damage. Consider eating a fair amount of them raw, steamed or lightly sautéed. Juicing is also an excellent way to get more greens into your diet.
- Blueberries: Blueberries rate very high in antioxidant capacity compared to other fruits and vegetables. They are also lower in sugar than many other fruits.
- Tea: Matcha tea is the most nutrient-rich green tea and comes in the form of a stone-ground unfermented powder. The best Matcha comes from Japan and has up to 17 times the antioxidants of wild blueberries and seven times more than dark chocolate.
- Fermented vegetables and traditionally cultured foods: Optimizing your gut flora is important for a well-functioning immune system and helps ward off chronic inflammation. Fermented foods such as kefir, natto, kimchee, miso, tempeh, pickles, sauerkraut, olives, and other fermented vegetables, will help ‘reseed’ your gut with beneficial bacteria.
- Shiitake Mushrooms: Shiitake mushrooms contain strong compounds, such as Ergothioneine, which have the natural ability to discourage inflammation that also inhibits oxidative stress.
- Garlic: Garlic has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries. It’s also one of the most heavily researched plant foods around. Over 170 studies show it benefitting more than 150 different conditions. Garlic exerts its benefits on multiple levels, offering anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and antioxidant properties.