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Anti-inflammatory foods are often normal every day vegetables, fruits and spices. They don’t have to be exotic foods. But why would we even need foods to be anti-inflammatory?

Inflammation is a natural immune response to deal with threats like bacteria, viruses and toxins. It’s a useful reaction to something the body sees as potentially harmful.  For example, when you cut your hand the redness, swelling, pain and heat is a sign of acute inflammation. 

When our immune system is always ‘switched on’, it can lead to chronic inflammation. This means cells and tissues can be damaged through the ongoing immune activity. 

Chronic levels of inflammation have been linked to cancer, Alzheimer’s, depression, osteoporosis and heart disease.

What causes inflammation?

Certain foods have been demonised as promoting inflammation — such as red meat, sugars, trans fats, artificial sweeteners. In reality the balance of your overall daily diet will affect your health, not one particular food.

boxes of blueberries and raspberries

The inflammation cascade may also triggered by

  • exposure to heavy metals (arsenic, lead, nickel from pollution, etc),
  • burnt foods (like that over done BBQ sausage) 
  • cigarette smoke,
  • and chemicals in plastics (e.g. BPA) or pesticides.

Anti-inflammatory foods to eat daily

A rich rich in vegetables, fruits, fibre and healthy proteins will keep your body fuelled with the ingredients to stay well. To be clear, if your overall diet is poor, then just adding one of these anti-inflammatory foods isn’t going to save you. The overall pattern of our diet matters more than one food. 

You can include foods which support the body to address chronic inflammation. Here are a few you can eat every day to support a healthy immune response.

1. Berries

Berries are rich in anthocyanins. This is a natural red pigment in dark coloured fruit which is linked lower levels of gut inflammation, and a reduction in cognitive decline. You can include strawberries, blueberries, blackcurrants and cherries in your diet. As a low GI fruit these are suitable for most people. For more on berries read – The benefit of berries

How to eat them 

  • Berries are great for immune health and can be added to porridge, smoothies, salads, desserts.
  • Just eat as a snack on their own

2. Turmeric – the anti-inflammatory spice

It is gaining popularity as a superfood, and turmeric has been used in Ayervedic cooking and medicine for years. Turmeric contains curcumin, a potent chemical (sometimes called a phytonutrient) which has strong antioxidant and anticancer properties.

How to eat it

  • Add to curries, or smoothies to brighten up you cooking.
  • Golden milk is a lovely warming drink. To make it just heat a non-dairy milk with grated turmeric, ginger, coconut oil, black pepper, cinnamon and cardamom for a delicious drink.
  • The benefits of turmeric are best absorbed when it’s heated and eaten with black pepper. This is because the black pepper stops the turmeric being excreted so quickly. This means the turmeric is in your body for longer, so has more time to effect your cells.
boxes of blueberries and raspberries

3. Ginger

Fresh ginger is another simple way to support your immune system. It contains strong antioxidant properties to help the immune cells do their work. Ginger can also inhibit the pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines, which can kick start inflammation. Ginger is also anti-fungal and has been shown to stop bacterial growth, including salmonella.

Making a tea with ginger is also great for nausea and stomach cramps – Best teas for IBS

How to eat it

  • Grate a small lump into warm water with some fresh lemon juice for a energising start to the day.
4. Oily Fish

Include the SMASH (Sardines, Mackerel, Anchovies, Salmon, Herring) fish in your diet 2-3 times a week or consider a supplement to boost your Omega 3 fats.

We generally all have a low intake of Omega 3, and this is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. Avoid large fish with higher mercury levels such as tuna, sword fish and marlin.

How to eat

  • Add salmon to a roasted vegetable salad
  • Make a pate by blending mackerel with cream cheese, season with lemon juice and paprika
5. Tomatoes

Tomatoes can support an anti-inflammatory diet because they are rich in vitamin C, beta-carotene, lycopene and other nutrients.

How to eat them

  • You can make a delicious relish with finely chopped tomatoes red onion, lemon juice, olive and coriander.
  • The lycopene levels in tomatoes is actually higher when the tomatoes are cooked, so use tomatoes in pasta sauce, curries and soups. 
More anti-inflammatory foods

Other great foods include:

  • Green tea
  • Cocoa
  • Broccoli
  • Garlic
  • Apples
  • Olive oil
  • Mushrooms

To get the most out of your diet aim for 5 vegetables and 2 fruit a day, with a rainbow of colours and tastes.

Inflammation is a natural response by our immune system to deal with threats like bacteria, viruses and toxins. It’s a positive reaction to something the body sees as potentially harmful.

When our body’s defense mechanism gets out of control it can lead to chronic inflammation which has been linked to cancer, Alzheimer’s, depression, osteoperosis and heart disease.

What causes inflammation?

Certain foods have been demonised as promoting inflammation — such as red meat, sugars, trans fats, artificial sweeteners. In reality the balance of your overall daily diet will affect your health, not one particular food.

boxes of blueberries and raspberries

The inflammation cascade is also triggered by exposure to heavy metals (arsenic, lead, nickel from pollution, in packaging etc), burnt foods, cigarette smoke, and chemicals in plastics and pesticides.

Anti-inflammatory foods to eat daily

A rich rich in vegetables, fruits, fibre and healthy proteins will keep your body fuelled with the ingredients to stay well. To be clear, if your overall diet is poor, then just adding one of these anti-inflammatory foods isn’t going to save you. The overall pattern of our diet matters more than one food. 

You can include foods which support the body to reduce inflammation – here are a few you can use every day to support a healthy immune response.

1. Berries

Berries are rich in anthocyanins, a natural red pigment associated with lower levels of gut inflammation, and a reduction in cognitive decline. Include strawberries, blueberries, blackcurrants and cherries in your diet. As a low GI fruit these are suitable for most people. For more on berries read – The benefit of berries

How to eat them 

  • Berries are great for immune health and can be added to porridge, smoothies, salads, desserts.
  • Just eat as a snack on their own

2. Turmeric – the anti-inflammatory spice

Gaining popularity as a superfood, turmeric has been used in Ayervedic cooking and medicine for years. Turmeric contains curcumin, a potent phytonutrient which also has strong antioxidant and anticancer properties.

How to eat it

  • Add to curries, or smoothies to brighten up you cooking.
  • Golden milk is a lovely warming drink – just heat a non-dairy milk with grated turmeric, ginger, coconut oil, black pepper, cinnamon and cardamom for a delicious drink.
  • The benefits of turmeric are best absorbed when it’s heated and eaten with black pepper. This is because the black pepper stops the turmeric being excreted so quickly, and therefore leaves it in your body for longer.
boxes of blueberries and raspberries

3. Ginger

Fresh ginger is another simple way to support your immune system. It contains strong antioxidant properties and inhibits the pro-inflammatory cytokines which start off inflammation. Ginger is also anti-fungal and has been shown to inhibit bacteria including salmonella.

Making a tea with ginger is also great for nausea and stomach cramps – Best teas for IBS

How to eat it

  • Grate a small lump into warm water with some fresh lemon juice for a energising start to the day.
4. Oily Fish

Include the SMASH (Sardines, Mackerel, Anchovies, Salmon, Herring) fish in your diet 2-3 times a week or consider a supplement to boost your Omega 3 fats.

We generally all have a low intake of Omega 3, and this is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. Avoid large fish with higher mercury levels such as tuna, sword fish and marlin.

How to eat

  • Add salmon to a roasted vegetable salad
  • Make a pate by blending mackerel with cream cheese, season with lemon juice and paprika
5. Tomatoes

Tomatoes can support an anti-inflammatory diet because they are rich in vitamin C, beta-carotene, lycopene and other nutrients.

How to eat them

  • You can make a delicious relish with finely chopped tomatoes red onion, lemon juice, olive and coriander.
  • The lycopene levels in tomatoes is actually higher when the tomatoes are cooked, so use tomatoes in pasta sauce, curries and soups. 
More anti-inflammatory foods

Other great foods include:

  • Green tea
  • Cocoa
  • Broccoli
  • Garlic
  • Apples
  • Olive oil
  • Mushrooms

To get the most out of your diet aim for 5 vegetables and 2 fruit a day, with a rainbow of colours and tastes.

Hi I'm Anna Mapson, registered Nutritionist (mBANT, CNHC). I help people with IBS, SIBO, reflux and other gut health issues.

I can help you to:

  • understand your digestion better, so you recognise your triggers
  • eat a well balanced diet, with tasty meals that are simple to prepare
  • develop healthy, sustainable habits for life

“Anna is amazing! I feel totally transformed"

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