Words by Lisa Hughes
January 4th, 2017
From mindfulness for kids to easing your anxiety with Transcendental Meditation, looking after your mind rightly moved into centre stage of all things wellness in 2016. This year, there’ll be one clear trend shaking up the health and wellness sphere – anti-inflammation.
Acne, bloating, rheumatoid arthritis, gut problems, IBS, diabetes and more serious conditions. Apart from being firmly on the ‘things you don’t want’ list, these problems (and many more) can be caused by inflammation. The great news is a diet of anti-inflammatory foods can help your body heal and that’s why the wellness agenda has shifted to promote inflammation-fighting foods. Even Starbucks is jumping on board with its Chile Mocha, a cayenne-based anti-inflammatory brew.
Here’s the science bit. Chronic inflammation kicks in when your immune system is stressed, stretched and forced to constantly produce healing cells. Put simply, you need to give your immune system the night off and heal itself. How can you do that? Diet, of course!
Similar to the much-recommended Mediterranean Diet, the anti-inflammation diet is all about healthy, unprocessed foods so it doesn’t require fancy supplements from the overpriced health food shop or weird ingredients your housemates can’t pronounce.
Green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and celery
Nuts like almonds and walnuts.
Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines.
Fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges.
One of this year’s most Insta-worthy foods – the turmeric latte – has slowly swiped Matcha’s eye as our go-to caffeine-free fix. But the allure of the turmeric beverage runs much deeper than its photogenic hue; turmeric has long been hailed for its potential cancer-fighting properties and as an anti-inflammatory wonder spice. That other Pinterest-favourite, ginger tea, also ticks the anti-inflammatory checklist. These humble spices contain bioflavonoids and polyphenols that reduce inflammation and limit free radical production. Time to get guzzling!
Don’t forget your anti-inflammatory fats. Say yes to foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids like wild salmon, sardines, anchovies, flaxseed, and walnuts. Other anti-inflammatory fats include extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, flaxseed oil, hempseed oil and walnut oil.
Antioxidants help reduce inflammation so add fresh fruit and veg to your shopping trolley, especially garlic, onions, peppers and leafy greens which are high in inflammation-fighting carotenoids, vitamin K and vitamin E.
Of course, the best way to fight chronic inflammation is to avoid overly inflaming your body to begin with.
SUGAR – The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition say that processed sugars trigger the release of inflammatory messengers called cytokines so stop adding sugar to your tea/coffee and watch out for sugar in your jarred and tinned food (also disguised as sucrose, fructose, etc.).
SATURATED FAT – studies have shown that saturated fats trigger adipose (fat tissue) inflammation, an indicator for heart disease and also worsens arthritis inflammation. Pizza, cheese, and red meat are the biggest saturated fat culprits.
TRANS FATS – Known to trigger systemic inflammation because the body can’t break it down, trans fat can be found in fast food and fried products like snack foods, cookies, and doughnuts. Tip: look out for partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredients list and steer clear.
REFINED CARBS – Scientific American predicts that processed carbohydrates will overtake fats as the main driver of obesity and other chronic conditions. Scary. The list includes white bread, white rice and regular pastas which all break down quickly into sugar. Instead, opt for wholegrains.
ALCOHOL (sorry) – As well as putting strain on your liver function, booze disrupts other multi-organ interactions. Drinking to excess leads to bacteria passing more easily through the intestinal lining, leading to irritation and inflammation. Ready for Dry January now?
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