By Be Well Health Coach Katrine van Wyk
Inflammation is our body’s natural response to injury or stress. If you cut yourself, get an infection or sprain an ankle, acute inflammation is a normal immune system response. However, chronic inflammation occurs when this process goes wrong and starts to affect healthy tissue. This chronic inflammation may play an important role in aging and other illness such as heart disease, arthritis, bone health and allergies.
Poor diet is one of the major contributors to chronic inflammation so incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet is essential.
Here are 5 of our current favorites:
This might be the hottest food of 2013, but that’s not all! This tiny seed is packed with anti-inflammatory plant based Omega-3 fatty acids . Omega-3 fatty acids also help balance hormones and are great for your skin and hair. Chia seeds are also rich in cancer fighting antioxidants and fiber. Try adding them to your shakes, baked goods (it works as a great egg replacer for those intolerant to eggs) or simply make it into a pudding by adding some coconut or almond milk.
Any cool juice bar (they are popping up all over) has a turmeric elixir on their menu these days. This ancient, trusted medicinal food has finally become hip. Turmeric contains curcumin, known to be a potent anti-inflammatory. Turmeric has a bright orange color and is what gives curry powder it’s well known tint. Add fresh turmeric to your juices, stews and soups and drizzle the dried spice on your salads.
Fermented cabbage is a part of many traditional diets and is found in the form of sauerkraut in Germany and Kim Chi in Korea. For centuries these cultures have known and treasured the health promoting benefits of fermented foods. The fermentation process creates beneficial good bacteria known as probiotics. These good bacteria are anti-inflammatory in the gut, help aid digestion, promote nutrient absorption and enhance immunity. In addition, cabbage and daikon radish, often used in Kim Chi, help support the liver’s natural detoxification process. Win win!
Judging from the recent buzz, coconut is the new olive oil. With its vast list of health benefits, coconut oil has become the hottest thing out there – and for good reason. Coconut oil is not only anti-inflammatory, it also boosts metabolism, helps balance hormones, is an anti-microbial agent and tastes delicious too. Try adding it to your morning shakes, sauté your kale in it and use it to roast your root vegetables for a decadent, nutty and sweet flavor. You can use coconut oil externally too. Use coconut oil as a moisturizer instead of the expensive, paraben-laden cosmetics from the beauty counter.
Yep, you must have heard about this one by now. Any farm-to-table restaurant in New York has it on the menu, kale chips are everywhere and green juices are becoming mainstream (well, sort of). Kale is a big leafy green vegetable in the cruciferous family packed with important minerals and chlorophyll which is also known as liquid oxygen for our cells. Kale is also packed with antioxidants (vitamin A and C) that help protect our cells from damage from free radicals in our food and environment. The fiber in kale aids digestion and helps your body eliminate properly.
How do you incorporate these foods into your diet?