Chances are you’ve heard the words ‘anti-inflammatory’ popping up more and more on the health scene, and although this isn’t an entirely new concept, there does seem to be an increased interest in how we can fight inflammation of the body with the foods we eat.
In fact, Well + Good recently named it as one of the biggest health trends of 2017 and naturally, we have questions – which is why we’ve called on Chloe McLeod, Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Author of Anti-Inflammatory Eating to help get us up to speed. The best part? As you’ll soon discover, you’re probably already dabbling in the craze yourself! (Ahem, turmeric lattes).
So first thing’s first, what exactly causes inflammation in the body and why do we need to care? McLeod explains: “Inflammation can occur for a number of reasons, be it poor eating habits, environmental factors (such as pollution) or chronically high levels of stress. Reducing inflammation can help with avoiding the development of a number of health conditions through helping the body stay healthy on a day to day basis.”
It’s important to note here that there are two types of inflammation: acute (swollen ankle, sore throat, skin wounds) and chronic (obesity, diabetes, lupus). When health experts speak of an ‘anti-inflammatory diet’ it is the latter they’re typically addressing.
“In this instance, we are looking more at inflammatory cytokines which are found in the body,” explains McLeod. “Blood tests are used to detect elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) which means the body is in a state of inflammation.”
“Following an anti-inflammatory diet can assist with preventing and/or treating conditions such as heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, bowel disease and mental health conditions, amongst others,” says McLeod.
The easy part? There’s no need to rush out to your health food store to stock up on expensive ingredients you can’t even pronounce as you’ll find that most common, everyday options are rich in compounds which help manage inflammation. “Be it omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants (in particularly vitamin A, C, E and K), or prebiotic fibre,” McLeod goes onto explain.
“These include nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, fish, well-prepared legumes (chickpeas, lentils) and unprocessed grains (barley, buckwheat and quinoa) as well as ginger, walnuts, watercress and blueberries.”
And let’s not forget everyone’s current fave – turmeric! Speaking of which, McLeod recommends adding pepper to your golden lattes, “this helps the body absorb it and use it more effectively.”