Inflammation afflicts millions of people around the world and in many cases, causes chronic debilitating diseases . It intensifies quickly and is caused by high amounts of stress, lack of sleep, a diet high in refined sugar and refined grains, unhealthy fats, excessive animal protein, excessive caffeine and alcohol, drugs, and a diet high in processed foods. Symptoms include digestive problems, joint pain and stiffness, headaches, fatigue, a high susceptibility to sickness, acne, and harsher forms of disease if chronic inflammation occurs, such as heart disease and diabetes. Many people turn to over the counter options to heal these ailments, but they only contribute to inflammation further because they’re filled with synthetic, chemical-based ingredients our bodies do not recognize.
Fortunately, there are basic dietary practices and natural remedies that can greatly alleviate and in many cases eliminate inflammation enabling one to live an active pain-free life.
The following is a list of foods that you should eliminate or reduce from your diet if you are experiencing inflammation:
- Sugars & Refined Carbs –The American Journal of Clinical Nutritionwarns that processed sugars trigger the release of inflammatory messengers called cytokines. Sugar goes by many names so look out for any word ending in “ose,” e.g. fructose or sucrose on ingredient labels.
- Saturated Fats – Several studies have shown that saturated fats trigger adipose, or fat tissue inflammation, which is not only an indicator for heart disease but it also worsens arthritis inflammation. Pizza and cheese are the biggest sources of saturated fats in the average American diet, according to the National Cancer Institute. Other culprits include meat products (especially red meat), full-fat dairy products, pasta dishes and grain-based desserts.
- Trans Fat –Harvard School of Public Health researchers helped sound the alarm about trans-fat in the early 1990s. Known to trigger systemic inflammation, Trans fat can be found in fast foods and other fried products, processed snack foods, frozen breakfast products, cookies, donuts, crackers and most stick margarines. Avoid foods with partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient labels.
- Gluten and Casein – Common allergens like gluten and casein (proteins found in dairy and wheat) may also promote inflammation. For individuals living with arthritis who also have celiac disease (gluten allergy) and dairy intolerance, the inflammatory effect can be even worse. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley and any foods made with these grains. Casein is found in whey protein products.
- Aspartame- Trying to go sugar-free? Aspartame is a non-nutritive, intense artificial sweetener found in more than 4,000 products worldwide. It is a neurotoxin, which means it affects the brain. If you are sensitive to this chemical, your immune system will react to the “foreign substance” by attacking the chemical, which in return, will trigger an inflammatory response.
- Alcohol – Alcohol is a burden to the liver. Excessive use weakens liver function and disrupts other multi-organ interactions and can cause inflammation. It is best eliminated or used in moderation.
Here’s a List of Powerful Natural Foods that Reduce Inflammation (The Magnificent 7):
- Lemons – Lemons are one of the most alkalizing foods and drinking lemon juice will help the body eliminate the accumulation of acid in the body, which almost always contributes to the onset of arthritis as well as many other health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
- Ginger Root – A study published in the November 2003 issue of Life Sciences suggests that at least one reason for ginger’s beneficial effects is the free radical protection afforded by one of its active phenolic constituents, 6-gingerol. In this in vitro (test tube) study, 6-gingerol was shown to significantly inhibit the production of nitric oxide, a highly reactive nitrogen molecule that quickly forms a very damaging free radical called peroxynitrite. Another study appearing in the November 2003 issue of Radiation Research found that in mice, five days treatment with ginger (10 mg per kilogram of body weight) prior to exposure to radiation not only prevented an increase in free radical damage to lipids (fats found in numerous bodily components from cell membranes to cholesterol), but also greatly lessened depletion of the animals’ stores of glutathione, one of the body’s most important internally produced antioxidants.
A study published in the February 2005 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine sheds further light on the mechanisms of action that underlie ginger’s anti-inflammatory effectiveness. In this research, ginger was shown to suppress the pro-inflammatory compounds (cytokines and chemokine’s) produced by synoviocytes (cells comprising the synovial lining of the joints), chrondrocytes (cells comprising joint cartilage) and leukocytes (immune cells).
- Turmeric – Research shows that turmeric has powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, and antioxidant properties but unlike aspirin or ibuprofen, turmeric’s curcumin reduces inflammation naturally, without damaging the liver or kidneys.
- Pineapples – Bromelain seems to be effective as an alternative to acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in arthritis patients. It provides an option for those that used Vioxx or a COX-2 inhibitor. Keep in mind, the sulfur-based enzyme bromelain is one of the best researched natural anti-inflammatory agents. In fact, a study in Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology found that bromelain is effective in easing the pain and discomfort of hip arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation states that pineapple’s bromelain produces effects comparable to NSAIDs for relieving joint pain. UK researchers looking at ten different studies found that every one of them confirmed that bromelain provides health benefits for osteoarthritis patients.
- Basil – Basil actively inhibits the same enzyme that anti-inflammatory drugs do, including Ibuprofen and Tylenol. Except you won’t fall over dead from eating too much basil, as was recently publicized is what often happens from consuming too much Tylenol. And really, if taking a bit more than the recommended amount of Tylenol is causing liver damage and killing people, wouldn’t you say that taking any is too much?
- Beets – Beets are a unique source of betaine, a nutrient that helps protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress. It’s also known to help fight inflammation, protect internal organs, improve vascular risk factors, enhance performance, and likely help prevent numerous chronic diseases.5 As reported by the World’s Healthiest Foods:6“[Betaine’s]… presence in our diet has been associated with lower levels of several inflammatory markers, including C reactive protein, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha. As a group, the anti-inflammatory molecules found in beets may eventually be shown to provide cardiovascular benefits in large-scale human studies, as well as anti-inflammatory benefits for other body systems.”
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Apple cider vinegar contains a variety of nutrients that help in its ability to do many things in the body that reduce inflammation fairly quickly. It has an alkaline pH, so it keeps our blood from becoming too acidic, which is what ultimately makes us feel so poorly. ACV can also reduce insulin in the body to balance blood sugar levels, it helps the body produce enough hydrochloric acid (HCL) needed for optimal digestion and assimilation of nutrients, it contains a large amount of potassium which reduces pain, it assists with natural cleansing and elimination, can relieve a minor headache and joint pain, flushes the cells of wastes, and promotes a healthy heart and blood pressure levels. Finally, it contains vitamin C that reduces inflammation, stress, and contributes to a healthy immune system to keep the body strong.
I call the above list the magnificent 7 when it comes to fighting inflammation. In fact, each one alone can greatly reduce inflammation and the risk of many nefarious diseases. So I thought to myself, if one is good for inflammation, how about all 7 taken together? That’s when I decided to experiment with a smoothie that combines all 7 ingredients into a powerful inflammation buster. I’ve been making this drink for 3 months now and it has done wonders to relieve my achy and stiff joints. Not to mention that all of the magnificent 7 ingredients have multiple healing properties because of their detoxification and liver cleansing abilities. What this has meant to me is, a dramatic reduction in my allergy symptoms this fall… No runny nose and itchy eyes… Indeed, a much appreciated side benefit of my elixir.
I highly recommend trying my magnificent 7 smoothie if you are experiencing pain and stiffness caused by inflammation. I drink mine every morning on an empty stomach. I use a magic bullet to mix everything up but a good quality blender should suffice. Try it for 30 days and I am confident you will notice a big improvement.
My Magnificent 7 smoothie recipe: Mix all in your blender: (Please use organic ingredients if available)
- 1/2 peeled lemon
- 1/4 cup fresh ginger root (peeled)
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric Spice
- 1/2 cup fresh pineapple
- 5 or 6 fresh basil leaves (I grow my own)
- 1/4 cup of fresh beets
- 2 oz. Apple Cider Vinegar (Raw with the Mother) I use Braggs Brand
- 4-6 oz of Coconut Water or Filtered Water.
Mix all the ingredients together for about 15 seconds and drink it up. If need be, add some raw honey to the mix however, after 3 months, I find the smoothie quite palatable without.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me. I look forward to reading comments from those that try this recipe.