Inflammation is a hot topic these days! It seems like daily, we hear about the links to arthritis, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and more.
But what is inflammation? It’s a defense response of the immune system - a way of dealing with potential and actual threats. Normal inflammation of the sort that follows an injury, for example, is completely healthy.
When inflammation goes awry, we talk about chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation, as the name suggests, is a sustained and systemic response in the absence of any apparent threat. It’s the immune system gone hyper-vigilant.
Prescriptions and even surgery are options for treating some types of inflammation, but what about prevention? What about diet and lifestyle?
Most of the advice for reducing inflammation looks like common sense: don’t smoke, limit alcohol, and eat a lot of whole, unprocessed plant foods.
But not all plant foods are created equal.
The hardest part of an anti-inflammation diet may be steering clear of otherwise wholesome, delicious fruits and veg that sometimes trigger a reaction. You’ll want to avoid nightshades: eggplant, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes and goji berries. This class of plants contain certain alkaloids that can affect nerve-muscle function, digestion and joint flexibility” (Daniluk). For many, bananas and oranges are irritants, too. And of course, there's the pervasive baddie: gluten.
Want to know more? For a truly deep dive on inflammation and diet, we recommend the book, Meals that Heal Inflammation by Julie Daniluk. It’s a fascinating look at how inflammation takes hold, and how to heal the gut in order to heal the body.
Health starts in the kitchen!
Moving beyond your run-of-the-mill foods, let’s look to superfoods and herbal medicines. Here’s a list of four treatments with possible benefits for inflammation. The first three come from an article on the Mayo Clinic site, while the last is from our own book research.
Cat's claw: Studies suggest cat's claw may ease rheumatoid arthritis joint pain and osteoarthritis knee pain during activity.
Devil's claw: Reputed anti-inflammatory benefits, and studies suggest devil's claw is effective in the short-term treatment of osteoarthritic pain.
Mangosteen: Credited with anti-allergy, antibacterial, antifungal, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory qualities.
Moringa oleifera: Contains a host of anti-inflammatory nutrients, including quercetin, chlorophyll, beta-sitosterol, sulphur, omega-3 fatty acids, and magnesium, required to activate omega-3s. Moringa leaf extract has actually demonstrated analgesic (pain relieving) properties in a clinical trial.
All the best in your journey to an inflammation-free life!
Bauer, Brent. M.D. Buzzed on inflammation. Mayo Clinic.
Daniluk, Julie. Meals that Heal Inflammation. Kindle version.
Manaheji, H. Analgesic effects of methanolic extracts of the leaf or root of Moringa oleifera on complete Freund's adjuvant-induced arthritis in rats. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21288459