Inflammation is the foundation for the body’s healing response, bringing nourishment and immune activity to a location of infection or injury. However, when inflammation is unnecessary or persistent, it can be seriously damaging to the body and cause a range of illnesses. It is becoming increasingly clear that chronic inflammation is a root cause for many serious health conditions including cancer, degenerative diseases and heart disease. The good news is that with a healthy lifestyle including stress management, exercise and specific dietary choices, you can help to transform your body to optimum health. When eating to prevent and ease inflammation, it is important to include as many fresh ingredients as possible. Avoiding processed foods and fast food is also paramount. Here are some specific ingredients that you can include into your diet that will have a positive influence on inflammatory conditions, as well as providing a range of nutrients that will allow your body to thrive.
- Turmeric- If you haven’t included this bright yellow spice into your cooking already, it is time to get it on the shopping list! This is a potent anti inflammatory spice that has the ability to protect fats against oxidisation during the cooking process, and also shield the body against oxidative stress once it has been consumed. Studies conducted at the Zhejiang Chinese Medical University signify that the curcumin found in turmeric increases LDL receptor expression. Poor LDL receptor activity can leave LDL particles open and vulnerable to oxidisation from inflammatory responses. These studies reveal the importance of curcumin due to its cholesterol-lowering and anti-atherosclerotic (Atherosclerosis is the build up of plaque inside the arteries) effects. Turmeric can be bought fresh, or dried in the form of a powder, and is a perfect ingredient to add to soups, curries, and Indian style dishes.
- Ginger- Ginger is the root of a plant from the same family as turmeric, and has been used as a remedy for centuries in Asian, Indian and Arabic systems of medicine. Ginger is a potent anti inflammatory, inhibiting the formation of inflammatory prostaglandins, thereby reducing the pain associated with osteoarthritis and other inflammatory illnesses. One 2008 study published in “Clinics” reveals that ginger may help halt the inflammation that is associated with liver cancer by stopping the pro inflammatory TNF-α, a type of signaling protein that causes inflammation. Include freshly grated ginger into stir fries, soups and curries, or add it to hot water with lemon and a couple of drops of stevia to make a spicy, soothing tea.
- Cold pressed, extra virgin coconut oil- Research conducted in 2010 from the University of California San Diego indicates that the lauric acid present in extra virgin coconut oil was found to kill the bacteria responsible for inflammatory acne. Virgin coconut oil has also been demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory action on both ear and paw inflammation in rats, according to researchers from Pyap University in Thailand. The polyphenols in this ingredient have been shown to reveal significant radical scavenging capabilities, therefore neutralising free radicals; molecules that can damage cells and cause inflammation. These findings are part of an emergence of new research highlighting the benefits of extra virgin coconut oil, and the potential for this ingredient to have significant effects on the prevention of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Coconut oil is a great cooking oil with high heat resistance. Use it in baking, soups and stirfries.
- Wild Salmon- The omega 3’s found in wild salmon are required for a healthy inflammatory response, and research shows that it provides beneficial effects for patients suffering with inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis. The omega 3 oils found in wild salmon are also linked to the prevention unwanted inflammation through the compounds of series 3 prostaglandins, series 3 thromboxanes and resolvins. Special compounds made from the DHA content in wild salmon oil, called protectins, have a potentially important role as anti-inflammatory regulatory molecules; having a specific influence on healthy brain and nerve function. Another new, exciting emergence of research is being conducted on the amino acid and protein content of salmon, as it has been found that salmon contains small bioactive protein molecules called bioactive peptides. One of these peptides; calcitonin, may have an impact on inflammation of the digestive tract and joints.
- Cruciferous vegetables- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, kale and cauliflower are filled with a vast array of vitamins and minerals, and studies inform us that they have a specific influence on inflammatory conditions by helping to magnify the anti-inflammatory and disease-fighting properties of other foods. Broccoli has been found to lower colon inflammation in mice, and a recent study from the University of Baroda shows that red cabbage has been linked to a reduction of oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation due to its high levels of anthocyanin; a therapeutic compound with antioxidant, cardioprotective and hepatoprotective properties. Red cabbage is an easy ingredient to add to your meals; just chop it up finely and add it to salads for some extra crunch, and too add a beautiful colour burst to your plate.
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