Inflammation is a natural bodily process that has both positive and negative effects. When you’re injured or sick, your body naturally increases inflammation levels to help you recover faster. But certain foods can also lead to unnecessarily high levels of inflammation in the body, which can weaken your immune system, increase pain, and slow down your metabolism. With that in mind, eating an anti-inflammatory diet can really improve your overall health and wellbeing. Where to start? Here are 5 easy tips that can make your diet more anti-inflammatory.
1- Eat your veg
What they taught you in school is true, vegetables are very important! In particular, cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, kale, or broccoli are great at relieving inflammation. Studies have found that they contain high amounts of anti-oxidants, which helps your body to balance out inflammation levels. They also contain sulforaphane, a molecule with some great anti-inflammatory effects.
Tomato is another great vegetable to include in your anti-inflammatory diet. Not only are they rich in vitamin C, E, and beta-carotene, but they’re also high in anti-oxidants. Research has found that consuming more tomatoes can decrease inflammatory markers thanks to its high lycopene content.
So whether it’s eating more spinach, cabbage, or tomatoes, make sure that all your meals contain at least one vegetable.
2- Use spices in everything you cook
Spices give your food a lot of extra flavor, but did you know that they can also reduce your inflammation levels? For example, turmeric contains a molecule called curcumin which has very powerful anti-inflammatory properties. So next time you’re making a stir-fry, why not add a little turmeric root in there?
More common spices like black pepper, cinnamon and garlic also have a ton of anti-inflammatory properties. And because they’re so potent, you don’t necessarily need to use a lot in order to improve your diet.
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If you’re not already cooking with a variety of spices, it’s time to start! The ones which we recommend the most highly are turmeric, ginger, cayenne pepper and clove. And if you’re not one to eat spicy, why not try to start your day with a turmeric-ginger latte instead of your usual cup of coffee?
3- Stay away from refined foods
Studies have shown that refined foods are the main culprit in raising inflammation levels. This includes ready-made sauces and condiments, white bread, frozen pizza, ice cream, and any type of candy.
It’s hard to make every meal from scratch, so you don’t necessarily need to eliminate refined foods from your diet completely. However, try to limit refined foods to a couple of times a day. For example, we recommend making your own salad dressing with olive oil and lemon juice, instead of relying on store-bought ranch dressing. And instead of cooking heavily processed pasta, why not try whole grains like barley instead?
Learning to cook with whole, non-refined foods can make a huge difference in your diet. Start by learning just a couple of recipes that use whole foods, such as a classic Italian minestrone or a fresh garden salad. Over time, you’ll be able to add more recipes to your repertory and make every meal an anti-inflammatory one!
4- Boost your diet with anti-inflammatory supplements
Changing your diet to include more vegetables and whole foods can drastically reduce your inflammation levels…but it can also take a long time to see the results you want. So in the meantime, why not give anti-inflammatory supplements a try?
Our favorite anti-inflammatory supplement is CBD oil. CBD oil is made using the non-psychoactive part of cannabis. It’s been shown to have very powerful anti-inflammatory properties. For example, this 2010 review of studies showed that cannabinoids like CBD could be used as anti-inflammatory molecules to help people with arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
When taken on a daily basis, CBD oil can keep your inflammation levels low. And it has some other great benefits too! For example, CBD oil can also relieve anxiety, improve your sleep, and even relieve nausea and allergy symptoms.
Another supplement that we really like is curcumin. Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory molecule found in turmeric root. To date, there are dozens of different studies showing that supplementing with curcumin can lower inflammation levels in the body. If you’re using curcumin supplements, just make sure to take them together with a source of fat, this will help your body to process the molecule more easily.
5- Focus on healthy fats
Fatty foods are often the culprit behind an inflammatory diet. Refined plant oils like palm oil and margarine can cause a lot of inflammation. And animal fat like lard and bacon fat are even worse. This means that switching unhealthy fats for healthy fats in your diet can make a big difference.
Some of our favorite healthy fats are extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds, and avocados. All of these foods have been shown to have great anti-inflammatory properties. For example, studies have shown that consuming olive oil could result in lower risks of getting heart disease. We also know that avocados are very rich in vitamin E, a molecule that has been associated with lowering inflammation.
In general, it’s also a good idea to reduce your fat consumption. Instead of frying certain foods, you can try making them with an air fryer, or baking them in the over instead. It’s a good idea to learn to cook without using too much oil. This leaves you the freedom to add more healthy fats to other parts of your diet. For example, adding a half avocado to your morning toast or some walnuts and pine nuts in a fresh salad.
Switching from a diet that is high in refined foods to one that includes a lot of fresh vegetables and healthy fats can seem like a big step. But a lot of our suggestions are actually very tasty. For example, spices can really bring a dish to the next level, and who doesn’t love avocado? We hope you’ve enjoyed our article, and that you’ll remember to include a few anti-inflammatory ingredients in the next meal you’re cooking!