Inflammation can occur on your skin, in your joints and other areas within your body. It is a process where the body’s white blood cells and substances they produce protect us from infection with foreign organisms, such as bacteria and viruses.
In some cases, the body’s immune system triggers an inflammatory response when there are no foreign bodies to fight off. These diseases are known as autoimmune diseases. The body’s normally protective immune system causes damage to its own tissues. The body responds as if normal tissues are infected or somehow abnormal.
Arthritis is a general term that refers to inflammation in the joints. Some of the types of arthritis that are associated with inflammation include; rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and gouty arthritis.
Some of the symptoms of inflammation might include:
- Swollen joint that may be warm to touch
- Joint pain
- Joint stiffness
- Loss of joint function
The good news is that some small changes in diet may be able to assist those people suffering with some of the above symptoms. Follow our tips below to ensure you’re getting the most anti-inflammatory benefits out of your diet as possible.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids can help to reduce inflammation throughout the body, some studies have also shown benefits for heart and brain health. Omega 3 fatty acids are known in our diets as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) but can also be seen as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Dietary sources of Omega 3 fatty acids include; deep sea fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, nuts & seeds such as walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds and linseeds. Omega 3 fatty acids are also present in some meat, grass fed meats contain a higher contain as well as omega 3 enriched eggs.
For heart disease prevention the Heart Foundation recommends consume 1000mg of combined EPA/DHA, in order for the EPA/DHA to have an anti-inflammatory action it would be recommended to consume 2700mg EPA/DHA. To put that into perspective for you 3 serves (150g each) of oily fish per week provides approximately 500mg of combined EPA/DHA per day. While including a serve of omega 3 rich foods each day would be recommended it can be difficult to achieve the required amount without the help of supplements such as fish oil. See the table below for a summary of the amount required in order to have anti-inflammatory action in the body.
|Supplement||EPA/DHA Content per Capsule||Capsules Needed per Day When Eating Oily Fish 3/Week||Capsules per Day Needed When NOT Eating Oily Fish|
|Standard 1000mg Fish Oil Capsules||300mg||8||9|
|Hi Strength 1500mg Fish Oil Capsules||450mg||5||6|
|Hi Strength Liquid Fish Oil||2,800mg (per teaspoon)||3/4 tsp||1 tsp|
|Wild Krill Oil Capsules||75mg||29||36|
Ginger is likely known for its benefits of fighting off colds & flus, but did you know that it also has an anti-inflammatory action and can also help to relive pain & swelling and improve blood circulation? If you are looking to use ginger for anti-inflammatory action, you’ll need to make sure you’re having a total of 5g fresh ginger (about 1tbsp) or 1 teaspoon dried ginger per day. Maybe you could add fresh ginger to cups of tea? Or if you don’t already, add fresh ginger to homemade stir-fries and curries.
Turmeric is another spice and is possibly better known for its anti-inflammatory properties, due to the curcumin content. For turmeric to have a better chance of having an anti-inflammatory action you’ll need to be consuming between 400-600mg curcumin 3 times each day. In fresh turmeric this equates to anywhere between 8-60g fresh turmeric 3 times each day! This level can be difficult to achieve without the use of supplements, if you are looking at purchasing a turmeric supplement check the curcumin content to ensure you are having the right amount. Something else to note is that black pepper increase the bioavailability of turmeric – meaning it can help us to absorb more – if you are using turmeric in cooking or in teas be sure to also include black pepper.
Foods to avoid
As well as foods we can include to help reduce inflammation, there are foods that can exacerbate the symptoms. Ideally these foods should be limited or avoided in the diet (though sometimes that is not always possible). Foods that should be avoided include; junk foods, high fat meats, sugar and highly processed foods.
Nightshade Family of Plants
These vegetables contain a chemical alkaloid called solanine, which has been known to trigger pain in some people. However, these trigger foods can differ greatly from person to person. Nightshade vegetables include; Potatoes, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers (capsicum), eggplant, tomatillos, tamarillos, pepinos, pimentos, paprika, and cayenne peppers.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Avoiding foods that are high in sugar and saturated fat will not only help to reduce inflammation it will also assist in maintaining a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy weight has also been shown to be helpful in reducing inflammation, possibly due to reduced stress on the joints.
The Immune System
The immune system is a complex system designed to defend against pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. However, it can also help repair and heal tissue from injury and inflammation. A healthy immune system is vital in helping your body fight off inflammation. Good hygiene, rest, exercise, managing stress and of course good nutrition are all aspects that will lead to a strong immune system.
If you feel like you could use further dietary assistance in this area be sure to contact one of our dietitians today.