What you eat can play havoc with your health. Adopt these foods to fix the problems.
Our everyday diet is filled with foods that trigger an inflammatory response - ultra processed foods, those high in artificial additives, saturated animal and trans fats, and excess sugar. When you regularly consume these, you put your body under constant inflammatory stress that attacks your cells and raises the risk of chronic and inflammatory diseases. But you can turn your health around with a simple anti-inflammatory diet.
A guide to anti-inflammatory eating
UK-based nutritionist Jane Clarke says anti-inflammatory eating isn't about deprivation. She recommends basing your meals around fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, pulses, lean meat and healthy fats.
Diets rich in fruit and vegetables, combined with whole grains, healthy fats and lean protein, are proven to increase lifespan and reduce ill-health. The Mediterranean diet is a classic and delicious example.
Fruits and vegetables
Fresh fruit and vegetables are the best and tastiest way to protect against chronic inflammation and the conditions it causes, such as cancer, heart disease, arthritis, asthma, dementia and depression.
Fruits and vegetables contain anti-inflammatory compounds called antioxidants that act to stop or neutralise free radicals - unstable atoms produced in response to sugary and highly processed foods, toxins, smoking and stress. For optimum results, eat a rainbow.
Dark green - Green leafy vegetables such as cabbage, kale and spinach contain vitamin K which has the potential to reduce age-related inflammation, cardiovascular disease and osteoarthritis.
Purple - Blackberries, blackcurrants, beetroot and purple sprouting broccoli contain antioxidants called anthocyanins which scientists believe help prevent and treat inflammatory conditions, including cancer.
Yellow - Yellow peppers, apricots, nectarines, oranges and lemons contain high levels of vitamin C, which has been found to treat high blood pressure and diabetes.
Orange - Beta carotene, found in carrots, sweet potatoes, squash and nectarines, is converted into vitamin A.
Red - Peppers, red cabbage and red potatoes are rich in B6. Low levels of B6 are inked to chronic inflammation and cardiovascular disease.
Unlike simple carbohydrates, which have most of their nutrients removed during processing, wholegrain complex carbohydrates are rich in anti-inflammatory compounds. Wholegrain foods such as oats, wholegrain bread and brown rice also have a low glycaemic index, which means they are digested slowly to release consistent energy throughout the day.
Omega 3 fatty acids
Oily fish, including salmon, mackerel, fresh tuna, sardines and pilchards are a brilliant source of omega 3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat proven to protect the heart and reduce inflammation in the body. These fatty acids also ease existing inflammatory symptoms, which is why fish oil supplements are recommended for those suffering with arthritis or joint pain. You can also find omega 3 in walnuts, linseed, pumpkin and chia seeds.
Animal protein is a source of the eight essential amino acids, which the body uses to build protein. Red meat provides vitamin B12 and omega 3 fatty acids - both of which have anti-inflammatory effects. While you don't need to eat meat to gain sufficient protein, remember plant sources don't contain all eight essential amino acids. So, you need a combination of plant protein to achieve your body's daily requirements.
Grab your shopping list from here :
Stash these anti-inflammatory staples in your store cupboard, then just add fresh fruit or vegetables for a healthy meal in minutes.
Dried or tinned beans and pulses, such as chickpeas, lentils and butter beans.
Tinned fish, like sardines and pilchards
Unsalted nuts and seeds
Fresh ginger (grate and freeze)
Olive oil for drizzling and salad dressings
Rapeseed or coconut oil for frying
White, green and herbal teas