After indulging in all the sweets, treats, and goodies of the holiday season, it is time to refocus on healthy habits for 2015. Foods high in sugar, saturated fat, preservatives and additives can trigger inflammation by causing inappropriate over activity in the immune system. This over activity can lead to a variety of symptoms such as fatigue, joint and muscle aches. The following foods are considered to have potent anti-inflammatory characteristics. By incorporating these items into your dietary routine, you can easily and efficiently wean off of the holiday sugar binge and start the New Year to a more healthful you!
Garlic, a mainstay in many ethnic cuisines the world wide, is a wonderful remedy for a plethora of ailments ranging from elevated cholesterol levels to the common cold. It is very helpful in reducing arthritis related joint pain and swelling. Research shows that the anti-inflammatory properties of garlic lie within its sulfur compounds, which inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines as well as the transcription factor NFkappaB. Add a little extra garlic to your culinary regimen and experience the health benefits that it provides.
Green Tea is a well-known antioxidant that has heart protective and lipid lowering qualities. Additionally, green tea has constituents that are effective at lowering inflammation. The polyphenols in green tea are believed to be responsible for its antioxidant and anti-cancer activity. One of these polyphenols, specifically Epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG, is a catechin that significantly inhibits neutrophil adhesion thereby reducing the inflammatory response. Although there is no hard and fast rule for optimal consumption, population based studies show that consuming 3 cups of green tea/day can help regulate the body’s inflammatory response and improve lipid profiles.
Turmeric has been regarded as one of the most potent anti-inflammatory botanicals. It works by regulating NF-kappaB a protein complex responsible for DNA transcription, immune system response and triggering inflammatory processes. Turmeric also possesses antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic and antimicrobial qualities just to name a few. Turmeric has long been used as a culinary spice and although cooking with it is beneficial and delicious, it is difficult to ensure therapeutic doses are ingested. The best way to reap the full benefits of this herb is to take it in a dietary supplement form that can deliver a high concentration and stimulate the reduction of pain and inflammation.
Cayenne and other hot chili peppers contain natural compounds called capsaicinoids. These are what give this fruit its anti-inflammatory properties. The most important and active ingredient in the plant is capsaicin, which works by promoting circulation and inhibiting substance P, a neuropeptide responsible for pain, temperature regulation and inflammation. Cooking with either cayenne pepper or paprika may provide anti-inflammatory benefits. Topical preparations have been used to help relieve neuropathic and arthritic pain.
Ginger is yet another spice that reduces inflammation, especially in those who have neurodegenerative diseases and inflammatory bowel disease. This botanical works by blocking the formation of inflammatory compounds specifically prostaglandins and leukotrienes. Interestingly, like NSAIDs (ibuprofen, aspirin etc) ginger inhibits the activity of both cocycloxigenase-1 and cyclooxygenase-2 thereby blocking prostaglandin synthesis. Additionally, ginger also inhibits 5-lipoxygenase and leukotriene synthesis. This is significant as the combined inhibition of prostaglandin and leukotriene synthesis has a lower propensity for side effects and an increase in therapeutic benefit.