Avoiding Chronic Inflammation With Foods, Herbs and Spices

January 14, 2018 | 1,204 views

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By Dr. Joseph Mercola

Herbs and spices have been adding flavor and excitement to dishes ever since time immemorial. They have always been an integral component of people’s diets, but are you aware of the countless benefits they provide?

Aside from the vibrant flavors that they give recipes, herbs and spices are also known for their ability to provide health benefits, without adding a single calorie.

Herbs offer many advantages over fruits and vegetables, especially if the antioxidants they provide are measured. They also offer unique medicinal qualities that help the body deal with specific illnesses.

Four Spices With Anti-Inflammatory Properties

In a research by three universities, 10 to 12 subjects were asked to ingest a specific spice per day with the amount that is usually added to dishes. The researchers did not just focus on the difference of antioxidant presence in the blood. They specifically wanted to see how these spices physiologically affected the research subjects.

Blood was extracted from these subjects to observe the body’s ability to stop an induced inflammatory response. These four spices showed the highest effect on the blood and antioxidant activity:

  • Cloves
  • Ginger
  • Rosemary
  • Turmeric

Change Your Diet, Reduce Your Risks

Inflammation is actually a normal occurrence in the human body when it comes to the white blood cells’ job in fighting off foreign bodies. The problem is when the inflammation gets serious and repetitive. Chronic inflammation is the cause of numerous serious illnesses, including obesity, cancer and heart disease. Unfortunately, these illnesses are also the top causes of death in the United States.

People’s poor grasp on what constitutes a good diet is one of the factors that could be blamed when inflammation gets out of hand. So, to minimize your risk of chronic inflammation and illnesses, try and remove the root cause first: unhealthy processed foods.

Processed food usually contains corn syrup, soy, processed vegetable oils and chemical additives, components that cause inflammation in the body. By avoiding these foods, you’re also removing your risk of developing inflammation.

You should also avoid refined sugar, oxidized cholesterol, trans fats and foods that are cooked in high temperatures, especially if they are cooked with vegetable oil. Refined sugar, fructose and grains in particular alter the body’s insulin sensitivity. In addition, I recommend limiting your sugar intake to only 25 grams per day. If you’re obese or insulin resistant, cut it down to as much as 15 grams per day, until you see an improvement in your blood sugar levels.

If you want to revamp your diet entirely, I suggest that you add the following foods that can have a positive effect on your overall wellbeing:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids. To get your fix of this kind of fat, I recommend that you add wild Alaskan salmon to your diet. Omega-3s help in avoiding inflammation and oxidative stress, as proved by a 2012 health study. You can also get these healthy fats from krill or fish oil.
Leafy Greens. Add dark leafy greens to your diet, such as spinach, kale and collard greens. These are known as good sources of antioxidants, flavonoids, carotenoids and vitamin C, which help in protecting you from cellular damage. I recommend that you go for organic greens to be sure that you’re not harming yourself with food that contain pesticides and other harmful chemicals.
Blueberries. Blueberries have a high amount of antioxidants and are low in sugar. This ensures that you get enough antioxidants into your body without compromising your blood’s sugar levels.
Tea. Tea is famous for its numerous health benefits. Matcha tea is one of the healthiest teas you can try, and has 17 times the amount of antioxidants found in wild berries and seven times more than dark chocolate. Another tea that would be a good addition to your diet is tulsi tea. Tulsi tea is filled with antioxidants and minerals that have anti-inflammatory properties. It can also help in boosting the immune system and improving heart health.
Fermented Vegetables and Cultured Foods. The immune system is especially dependent on healthy gut flora. By optimizing your gut flora, you’re helping improve your immune system. Fermented foods, such as kefir, natto, miso, tempeh, pickles and olives, are some of your best choices.
Shiitake Mushrooms. These contain high amounts of compounds that help in protecting the body from inflammation and oxidative stress.
Garlic. Garlic is famous for numerous health benefits. With numerous research papers and journal backing it, garlic has been known to contain antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and antioxidant properties. It also contains allicin, a compound that is responsible for fighting off free radicals.

Change Up Your Diet and Employ Intermittent Fasting

Your efforts to improve your health and lifestyle should not be limited to what you ingest or not. The way you eat should also be taken into consideration to ensure that you’re optimizing your habits to what would be best for your body.

Change up your diet and use intermittent fasting to help your body process and properly utilize the vitamins and minerals that you ingest. Take note that intermittent fasting does not mean that you’re going to deprive yourself of the calories that you normally eat. It just means that you’re going to eat your meals in a given time period.

This kind of fast limits your food intake to a seven-hour window, making you fast for 14 hours or more. By doing intermittent fasting, you can reap many benefits, such as ensuring that your digestive system can efficiently process and digest the food you eat.

For more information about foods that have anti-inflammatory properties, read “Top Anti-Inflammatory Foods, Herbs, and Spices.”