Inflammation gets a pretty bad reputation. It is a normal process in the body that is actually protective, unless it hangs around for too long. Chronic inflammation has been linked to cancer, heart disease, alzheimer’s, diabetes, and many other chronic diseases.
You may be tempted to reach for the bottle of Tylenol after a long run or killer weight lifting session. Chronic use of NSAIDs or over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs is associated with ulcer formation, decreased white blood cell count, and intestinal bleeding. Yikes! Instead of heading to the pharmacy, you should first adjust the types of food you are putting into your body.
The first step would be reducing the amount of pro-inflammatory foods in your diet such as refined grains, trans fats, saturated fats, alcohol, and any unique food that may trigger gastrointestinal discomfort for you (some common ones include dairy and gluten)
To combat inflammation, you should aim for a minimally processed whole food diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. There are certain foods that have been shown to attack the inflammatory response and quiet it down, and I’ve listed a few of these below:
- Herbs and Spices including turmeric and garlic
- Omega 3 Fatty acids: Flax seeds, walnuts, salmon, herring, trout, or tuna. Fish is a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids and should be consumed in 3-4 oz servings twice per week.
- Fruits and Vegetables are high in antioxidants which help support the immune system. Aim to eat the rainbow!
- Nuts or Seeds because they include monounsaturated fats, protein, and fiber.
- Olive Oil contains monounsaturated fats, antioxidants, and oleocanthal which helps in lowering inflammation and pain. Use olive oil as a salad dressing, for cooking, or in dishes. Choose an extra virgin variety as these are less refined and processed, keeping more of the natural nutrients.
- Beans. They are high in fiber and antioxidants
And a delicious way to implement some of these changes would be to make the easy no bake treats below! They are packed with anti-inflammatory spices and no added sugars.
Turmeric Coconut Bites
- 1 1/2 (90 g) cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 cup (140 g) cashews
- 7 dates, pits removed
- 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
- 3 Tsp organic ground turmeric
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp organic ground ginger
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
Add the coconut to a high-speed blender or food processor and mix until it starts to get a bit oily. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until the cashews are broken down. Gently press the mixture into balls. Let set in the fridge for a couple hours to harden. Enjoy!
Written by Erin Kenney, MS, RD and Founder of Nutrition Rewired