My Top 5 Anti-Inflammatory Foods

berriesInflammation used to be something that we could see or feel. When someone was diagnosed with arthritis we understood it as inflammation in the joints. When we visibly saw swelling after injury or burns, we took the inflammation as our body’s healing response. Over the years, research has highlighted a constant state of low-grade inflammation in our body, which can be a risk factor for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, gut disorders and more. The scariest part of this inflammation is that it’s not necessarily something we see or feel (at least, not yet).

So, how can diet have an effect on this? There are many foods that carry “anti-inflammatory” benefits, which can decrease low-grade inflammation and help prevent certain conditions.

My top 5 anti-inflammatory super foods are:

1)      Turmeric and Ginger

Thank god I’m Indian! No shortage of this in the household, or in our diet. Turmeric has been used for centuries in ancient healing practices to decrease inflammation. If you don’t eat a lot of curries, think of adding some into your smoothies or take a heaping spoonful on a daily basis (be prepared to wash that down quickly!). Ginger is well known for its ability to reduce pain and responds in our body in a similar fashion to ibuprofen. Adding ginger root into your cooking is easy, and adds a delicious pop of flavour in stir fries or even homemade iced tea.

2)      Beets

Beets are rich in colour and antioxidants, which not only help fight cancer but also inflammation.

3)      Probiotics

I’m a huge believer in probiotics. They act mainly in our gut, which is where most of our immune cells live. It only makes sense that if we have a healthy gut, we will have a stronger immune system that can fight against inflammation. Although readily available in pill form, I personally also like to add kefir, a fermented dairy product, into my smoothie for my daily dose of probiotics.

4)      Berries

Berries, especially blueberries are my favourite to add into smoothies. They are freezer friendly, add a natural sweetness and come chalk full of phytochemicals. Blueberries are also considered a ‘brain food’ that helps keep our mind sharp!

5)      Dark leafy greens like KALE!

I know, I’m a dietitian, so obviously I have to talk about dark, leafy greens. Honestly though—they are the bomb when it comes to anti-inflammatory effects. Not only do leafy greens give us iron and calcium, they contain oodles of antioxidants that help fight back against inflammation.

So how practical is it to fit all of these foods into your diet on a daily basis? My solution is whipping up a smoothie. I like to make little smoothie packs to keep in the freezer, which are convenient to grab in the morning and toss into the blender.

My Ultimate Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie Recipe:

Frozen Smoothie Pack:

Half a beet, chopped

Half an apple, chopped

One small (1 square inch) square of ginger root

1 cup blueberries

1 cup spinach or kale

½ cup pineapple or mango

1)      Add your smoothie pack into the blender with 1 cup kefir (for a bit of added sweetness, I sometimes choose strawberry or mango flavoured kefir), 1 cup water and toss in 2 tbsp of ground flax, hemp or chia seeds for added fibre.

Blend and serve. Makes 2-3 Servings

Warning – the beet and ginger give a strong flavour, so it may take some getting used to. To ease into things, you can start with ¼ of a beet instead and add 2 tbsp of honey for added sweetness.

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