Recently I seem to have been meeting lots of people who are suffering from inflammation and pain. I see how this affects their life, often limiting them in the amount, or type, of movement and exercise they can comfortably do. They also hold themselves differently which can lead to stiffness and further pain as muscles are not being used as they were designed to be used.
As a holistic therapist I see any form of dis-ease as imbalance. Our diet is an important part of that balance. Our bodies need to be in an alkaline state in order to function at their best. In the Western world, however, we often rely on convenience foods and stimulants like coffee and sugary drinks, which actually create an acidic environment within us. This acidity leads to inflammation and illness.
As someone who has suffered from food intolerances (I was diagnosed as lactose intolerant at the age of 13 and over the course of the following years many other foods were added to that list) I have, for a long time, been fascinated by how our bodies respond to the foods that we eat. I am passionate about using food as a natural form of ‘medicine’. There are many everyday foods that have healing properties but without any of the side effects that often accompany prescription drugs.
It has also been discovered recently that depression could be related to inflammation:
New research is revealing that many cases of depression are caused by an allergic reaction to inflammation. Tim de Chant of NOVA writes: “Inflammation is our immune system’s natural response to injuries, infections, or foreign compounds.” … Inflammation is caused by obesity, high sugar diets, high quantities of trans fats, unhealthy diets in general, and other causes
I believe that the economy, and other factors, are driving changes in our health services that will mean it benefits us to look more at prevention rather than cure. In the past we have often relied on the men in white coats, but I think the time is coming for us to take back greater control and decision making on issues regarding our own health. Each person is unique and so their wellness journey is unique. Who knows your body and lifestyle better than you do? Therefore who is in a better position to look after you, than you?
Part of this shift means that we need to look carefully at our food. I have been concerned for some time about the chemicals in our food, for example: pesticides on our fruits and vegetables, antibiotics in our meat and preservatives in processed food. Recently I have been learning about ‘clean eating’ — a concept that teaches about the foods that support our bodies, and those that are actually toxic. As part of this I have been looking into foods that help our bodies to be in a more alkali state, and those which help us to reduce inflammation.
Here is a list of some that you might like to add to your diet, or to eat more of, if you already include them:
- Coconut Oil
This is a real wonder food with many benefits. It:
- naturally kills multiple viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites
- aids digestion and liver metabolism,
- reduces inflammation
- promotes healthier skin and speeds up the healing of wounds when applied to the area
- raises levels of the beneficial cholesterol in women and so might be helpful in managing diabetes
- supports weight loss
- may have an effect against cancer
This yellow spice is commonly found in the curry powder you buy in the supermarket. The most active substance in turmeric is known as Turmeric has been used traditionally in India as a disinfectant and treatment for laryngitis, bronchitis, and diabetes. Its anti-inflammatory effects have been shown to be similar to some of the drugs used to treat the condition, but without any of the side effects.
This plant contains fucoidan, acomplex carbohydrate which is found in brown algae and seaweeds. It is known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour and anti-oxidative effects. Scientists have recently discovered some promising results in tests on liver and lung cancer. Flucoidan also promotes collagen synthesis, so is good for the skin and connective tissue. Also the high fibre content of kelp helps to give a feeling of fullness and to slow absorption of fat thus helping you to loose weight. However, when possible, it is important to make sure that the kelp you buy has been harvested from an upolluted area of the sea.
This common spice has a multitude of uses! As well as being an anti-inflammatory and helping to relieve pain, it can settle stomach upsets, support blood cleansing and fight many of the symptoms of colds and flu. Definitely worth keeping some of this in your kitchen cupboard!
- Green Tea
This refreshing drink contains flavanoids which are strong natural anti-inflammatory substances that have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. It seems that flavanoids inhibit the compounds that cause inflammation and also affect how our immune cells work. For more information see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flavonoid#Inflammation
Christopher Columbus called this the ‘fruit of the angels’! It contains papain, an enzyme which helps to digest protein. When combined with other nutrients, for example Vitamins C and E, it helps to reduce inflammation and improves digestion. It can also help to speed up the healing of burns.
These are one of my favourite fruits and I grow them in my garden. They contain lots of phytonutrients — plant based chemical substances with negligible calorific content but which are essential in supporting good health and disease prevention. The anti-inflammatory properties of these little berries help to protect us against diseases such as cancer and dementia.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This is the secret to why the Mediterranean diet is so healthy! Olives are rich in polyhpenol antioxidants which are thought to affect the activity of inflammatory enzymes, thus helping. These help to protect the heart and blood vessels while the mono-unsaturated fats, when converted by the body, form anti-inflammatory agents which can reduce flare-ups of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
Another favourite of mine! This green vegetable has many health benefits:
– it helps to protect against cancer
– it supports the immune system
– it contains more calcium than milk and it is also a source of Vitamin K which helps to prevent osteoporosis
– it helps to regulate blood pressure
– it helps to prevent colds
- Sweet Potato
‘Clean’ eating is becoming very popular as people start to realise what goes into producing the food we eat and how this can affect our health. This concept teaches that ‘white’ is actually ‘unclean’ as it usually means that the food is highly processed and many of its health benefits have been lost. This has lead to looking into the nutrition of other white foods such as the common potato which is often the carbohydrate of choice for many people. We eat it as chips, mash, crisps, baked potatoes and many more. Many are now realising that there are other options which contain more nutritional value and are equally versatile. The sweet potato has been found to be a good source of complex carbohydrate, beta-carotene, manganese, Vitamin B6 and C as well as fibre. These nutrients work together to have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect in the body.
I hope that you have found this post helpful. I would love to hear your comments! I would also love to hear of anything you have found that works for you in trying to reduce inflammation and any of the associated dis-eases.
If you would like to know more about the Healthy Living Plan that I offer, please contact me. This includes a free half-hour session to discuss diet and a range of nutritional supplements and support. My contact details are:
mobile: 07980 669303