Chronic inflammation is tied to just about every health problem out there.
The foods we eat either fight inflammation or feed it.
Begin to move your wellness in the right direction, by adding oily fish, turmeric, nuts and seeds, brightly coloured seasonal produce, olive oil, and avocado into at least one meal in your day.
We’ve also included some anti-inflammatory ‘swap outs’ to make some of your favourite foods more inflammation-friendly, to ensure you’re giving your body the best possible chance to ‘put out the fire’.
Top 5 Foods For Fighting Inflammation:
1. Oily Fish
Healthy fats are essential for healthy hormones, brain function, and keeping inflammation at bay. Wild-caught seafood is abundant in healthy omega-3 fats.
Turmeric is packed with anti-Inflammatory properties. Curcumin is the main bioactive compound in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant.
3. Nuts and Seeds
Such as almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chia seeds, flaxseed, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, walnuts. A great edition to fancy up any salad, and full of beneficial ALA omega-3s and antioxidants like vitamin E.
4. Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables
Packed with folate and phytochemicals with additional antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, brightly coloured produce also contains high amounts of polyphenols, which support controlling inflammation as well as having a beneficial effect on our gut microbiome.
Leafy greens, blueberries, cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower, red and yellow capsicums are all great places to start!
5. Healthy fats such as Olive Oil and avocado
These kitchen staples deliver the inflammation-suppressing compound oleocanthal, plus a small amount of omega-3s.
Note that olive oil is best used in salad dressings or cooking on heats less than 160ºC. When cooked on high heat, olive oil loses its integrity and goes rancid. For cooking on higher heats, we recommend using butter, ghee, or coconut oil.
Omega-3s come in different forms, ALA, DHA and EPA.
DHA and EPA are already in the bio-active form (they are all ready to be used by our bodies!) but can only be found in animal sources of omega-3s.
However, while ALA isn’t active, plant-based sources contain other healing compounds, so it’s best to have a varied diet including all of the things in this list.
With the above in mind, now let’s go through some common, everyday sources of foods that can ‘feed’ the inflammation, and how we can make simple swaps in favour of foods that ‘fight’ it, instead.
4 Simple food swaps to support inflammation levels:
1. Swap Dairy Milk for Coconut Milk
For some people, dairy can be inflammatory! If someone has a dairy allergy or sensitivity, dairy will actually trigger their bodies' inflammatory responses when consumed.
A good alternative is coconut milk, which also contains essential fatty acids.
2. Swap sugar and artificial Sweeteners for Honey
Consuming too much added sugar and refined carbohydrates is linked with elevated inflammation in the body as well as insulin resistance and weight gain. Instead, use honey in home baking or to sweeten your hot cacao.
Honey is a lovely natural sugar that supports the immune system and balanced inflammation.
3. Swap Alcohol for Kombucha
As we breeze into the summer months, we may find ourselves enjoying a cold alcoholic bev’ or two more regularly, which is absolutely fine, but bear in mind…
It's what we do most of the time—not some of the time—that counts.
Be mindful not to overindulge, as consuming high amounts of alcohol, not only leaves us with no energy the following day, but it also contributes to increased inflammation levels in the body.
In particular, high amounts of alcohol can lead to ‘leaky gut’, and as we’ve learnt, 70% of your immune system is located in our precious gut.
Two less inflammatory options are sparkling water, and kombucha*. You could even brew a tasty kombucha mocktail!
*Be cautious which brands of kombucha you choose—with the sudden ‘booch boom, some companies are using a lot of sugar and not letting it naturally ferment or carbonate, instead carbonating artificially like a regular fizzy drink. Stick with trusted brands: Good Buzz, Organic Mechanic, New Leaf and Daily Organics are our favourites!
But if the occasion really calls for an alcoholic beverage, go for a clean spirit (single) with soda water and lime.
4. Fish & Chips for Home-made Fish and Kumara Chips
Deep-fried fish and chips, while delicious, and perhaps a treat on the odd occasion, aren’t a nourishing Friday night ritual every week.
Deep-fried foods contain high levels of omega-6, and while omega-6s do have health benefits, the standard Western diet contains too much omega-6, and not enough omega-3. This imbalance is pro-inflammatory.
Pan-fried line-caught fish and kumara roasties, alongside a beautiful salad full of seasonal produce is a great, nutrient-filled alternative.
When our bodies are fuelled with nourishing, anti-inflammatory foods, we feel drawn to eating those foods more, we feel better, we have more energy, we sleep better, our resilience is improved, as is our mood, skin, thinking, and gut health!
Making little swaps can have a big difference.