Are you a regular NSAID (ibuprofen) user? If so, this one's for you!
NSAID's have become an extremely popular form of anti-inflammatory pain-relief for many of the common complaints most individuals suffer from at one point or another.
But have you ever wanted to try an alternative approach?
Before we dive into some of the best natural anti-inflammatories, let's first shed some light on inflammation's beneficial (but sometimes damaging) bodily response.
Acute Inflammation vs. Chronic Inflammation
Inflammation is an essential part of our body's healing process after injury or during pain, illness, infection, or stress. On the surface, this type of immediate and short-term response, known as acute inflammation, can be identified by local redness, heat, swelling and pain in which symptoms typically last only a few days to a few weeks.
Not only is this response beneficial and necessary in many emergency situations, but our body's ability to heal wounds (and ultimately survive) actually depends on it!
On the other end of the spectrum is chronic inflammation, which is classified as long-term, harmful, low-grade inflammation. This type of bodily response can often become the underlying root cause of not only various aches and pains, but also inflammatory linked diseases such as Alzheimer’s, asthma, cancer, heart disease, Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), ankylosing spondylitis (AS), and Type 2 diabetes.
Important note: If you believe chronic inflammation to be a factor for you, it's always recommended to work with your doctor, primary care physician, or naturopathic doctor to discuss diagnosis and treatment. Oftentimes, blood will be tested for high levels of "C-reactive protein (CRP)", which can indicate higher than usual levels of inflammation.
Did you know any health condition ending with "-itis" involves inflammation?
Natural Anti-Inflammatories to Fight Chronic Inflammation
When it comes to fighting chronic inflammation in the body, eating a wide variety of nutrient-dense whole foods is one the best ways to do so! Not only can eating an anti-inflammatory rich diet help prevent + reduce chronic inflammation, but it can also be helpful in reducing localized pain and discomfort in acute inflammatory responses.
Below are 9 natural anti-inflammatories you can include in your diet:
Pineapple contains a mixture of enzymes called bromelain which reduces the activity of inflammatory molecules in the body. It also appears to have immune-modulating abilities which helps regulate the immune response that often triggers unnecessary inflammation.
Turmeric’s primary compound, curcumin, is its active anti-inflammatory component which is shown to have beneficial effects against fighting inflammation in the body.
Ginger is an immune modulator which helps reduce inflammation caused by overactive immune responses (such as autoimmune disorders).
Blueberries contain quercetin, a strong anti-inflammatory antioxidant commonly used in the treatment of severe inflammation in the body.
Certain fish such salmon, sardines, anchovies, tuna, and mackerel are rich in inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids which help reduce C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (two inflammatory proteins in the body).
Cherries (alongside other deep colored plant foods such as blackberries, blueberries, dark cabbage, kale, and cacao) are all rich in phytonutrients called flavonoids. These plant-powered nutrients have beneficial anti-inflammatory effects which both reduce inflammation itself and reduce the acute and chronic pains caused by it.
Celery has anti-inflammatory components which help both improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels while also helping prevent heart disease. Celery seeds are also shown to help lower inflammation and fight bacterial infections.
8. Bone Broth
Bone broth contains chondroitin sulphates, glucosamine, and collagen which are compounds which help reduce inflammation, joint pain, and arthritis. It also contains the amino acid Glutamine which reduces gastrointestinal inflammation.
9. Green Tea
Green tea's major anti-inflammatory power comes from a component known as catechins. Findings show catechins have demonstrated to suppress inflammatory cytokines and inflammatory enzymes, as well as fight against inflammatory diseases.
Tips for Reducing Chronic Inflammation
As discussed earlier, acute inflammation plays a vital role in our health and healing, but chronic inflammation is something we should always try our best to avoid.
Here you'll find dietary & lifestyle tips to reduce and prevent chronic inflammation:
Limit consumption of inflammatory foods
Such as: processed sugars, artificial sweeteners, white breads, refined grains, fried foods, seed oils (canola oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, vegetable oil)
Reduce exposure to environmental toxins
Such as: pesticides, heavy metals, GMO foods, alcohol, smoke, unfiltered water, and endocrine disruptors found in conventional household cleaners/soaps and conventional beauty & bath products.
Eliminate foods with TRANS FAT
Include omega-3 fatty acids in the diet
Eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables daily
Incorporate light-moderate exercise 3-4 times per week
Minimize stress as much as possible
Receive a minimum of 10-20 minutes of daily sun exposure
Experiment with Grounding/Earthing
Doing our best to take the necessary precautions to prevent + reduce the harmful, and sometimes lasting, effects of chronic inflammation is an important step in managing our overall health and wellbeing! It also doesn't have to be difficult or stressful.
To start, simply choose 1-2 of the foods + 1-2 of the actions listed above and incorporate them into your weekly routine to see if they help make a noticeable difference for you!
Disclaimer: It's always recommended to consult your doctor, primary care physician, or naturopathic doctor before beginning use of any forms of supplementation.