Can you drop inflammation instantly and have less pain, swelling and even shift some weight? Absolutely! And, you don’t even need to overhaul your diet.
Your health isn’t only about what you get rid of but it’s also about what you ADD in. Focus on adding more colour, flavour and texture coming from plants and you start creating an anti-inflammatory environment inside you, inviting health in.
Changes can be small, in fact these are often easier to stick to. So let’s start:
1. Eat legumes 3 days a week ( minimum 😊 )
The more plant swaps you find for meat, the bigger the drop in inflammation. But it doesn’t need to be all or nothing. Already swapping 2 servings of red meat for legumes 3 days per week, drops inflammation by 33% in 8 weeks (study). This is not surprising since inflammation is triggered by saturated fat and animal protein, both of which you’ll find abundantly in meat.
The next time you’re planning on having a chicken curry, have a chickpea curry instead. Opt for lentil Bolognese instead of the ground beef version or baked lentil-bean loaf instead of pork chops. Keeping it simple is the key. So just use your old meaty recipe, your favourite spices but light it up with the anti-inflammatory power of beans and lentils.
2. Cashew cream instead of dairy
If you haven’t tried cashew cream, you are missing out. It’s a perfect swap for a dairy creamer into curries or also as a topping on your home-made pizza!
This simple tweak will help you drop inflammation as dairy and cheese, particularly, are the major source of saturated fat in our diet (study). Moving away from any source of saturated fat and specifically the ones found in meat and dairy, and replacing it with healthy fats from nuts will help drop inflammation instantly.
To make cashew cream, cook cashews in a bit of water for 5 minutes. Then, process into a cream and add to meals which call for more creaminess. It’s even better than coconut milk, since coconut is also rich in saturated fat (one of the few plan- based sources), so let’s stick with lighter cashews instead.
3. Green smoothie to break your fast.
You owe it to yourself after a night’s sleep and fasting to start the day the best you can. You just went through detoxification, repair and needs a boost of nutrients, which will alkaline your body and move you into an anti-inflammatory state.
Green smoothie is the perfect way to flood your body with potent anti-inflammatory compounds stored in green vegetables, especially the cruciferous kind. It is phytochemicals like Sulforaphane in broccoli, potent anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats and antioxidants like beta carotene, zeaxanthin and lutein in greens as well as quercetin in apples and oranges, which work on balancing your body and bringing inflammation down. They also supress oxidative stress – another contributor to inflammation.
The beauty of smoothies is you can create your own favourite blend that you absolutely love. To get the maximum anti-inflammatory power, use at least 2 cups of tightly packed greens or cruciferous vegetables (kale, broccoli, cabbage, rocket or pak-choi) in your smoothie. Then, add sweetness with fruit and some ground flax to drop inflammation even further.
4. Flax it up
Flax is the new gold! It has 4 times more omega-3 fats (the anti-inflammatory kind) than omega-6 fats (these drive inflammation up). Processed foods, oils, dairy, meat and even healthy foods like other nuts and seeds are abundant in omega-6. That’s why it’s so easy to fall short on omega-3 fats and move your body into a pro-inflammatory state.
That’s when flax or chia seeds come in. Their strong anti-inflammatory power doesn’t come only from omega-3 fats but also from their high nutrient content. As whole foods they come packed with minerals like Zinc, Magnesium, Calcium, vitamin K, B vitamins, all of which your body needs for healing. Flax also contains lignans and flavonoids which help neutralise oxidative damage of cells – working on the repair of your body literally from the inside out.
Already 2 tbs a day added to a weight loss promoting diet can have a significant lowering effect (25 – 45%) on the inflammatory markers like CRP and TNF- alpha (study)
Flax seeds are a true superfood and they make a great addition to smoothies, home-made muffins, pasta dishes or sprinkled over your salad. Always use them ground and if you are new to them, start with 0.5 tablespoon a day and work your way up to even 4!
5. Date a dessert
Refined sugar is not only about empty calories and difficulties to portion control. It’s also about inflammation. When you eat a chocolate bar, conventional cookie, cake or pastry, your blood sugar spikes and that triggers a release of insulin. This rapid reaction will make you feel shaky, irritable and looking for more sugar soon after. Overtime, this leads to insulin resistance (linked to inflammation) as well as weight gain. And any extra pounds will generate pro-inflammatory chemicals which will end up circulating in your blood. (study)
In addition, refined sugar also feeds the bad bacteria in your gut, which are responsible for more inflammation. (study)
That’s why make a date with a date! Using dates as a sweetener in place of refined sugar is a great solution to nourish your body while feeding the good bugs and reducing inflammation.
Dates are high in fibre making the good bacteria more efficient in working against the bad guys and inflammation starts to drop. Dates are satisfying and a much better choice when you are concerned about the health of your joints, gut and weight too. You can start with simple treats like home-made carrot cake and instead of sugar use dates (recipe) or by making a chocolate bean mousse (recipe
When you start with these simple changes you move your body from a pro-inflammatory (pro-disease) state into an alkaline, anti-inflammatory way of living. By just adding healthy foods you crowd out some less healthy ones, moving the scale towards recovery and healing.
Take little baby steps and keep building up momentum to see what your body is capable off.
Over time, as you start supressing inflammation and stick with it, you’ll be able to release the extra pounds more easily, your skin will get tighter revealing it’s natural beauty and your joints will work like clockwork. As long as you keep moving ahead.
Cheers to your health!