Often we hear about ant-inflammatory foods — but what are these actually? There are different types of inflammation in our bodies: the one we don’t notice (low grade inflammation) and the one we feel (acute inflammation). In both cases anti-inflammatory foods can help.
Many lifestyle choices we make today, such as smoking, being stressed, eating unhealthy foods like trans fats, refined carbs lead to something we call “low grade inflammation” which is now known as the precursor to many other ailments such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and more. So this means even though you can't feel any inflammation, it is very likely it is there.
Our body can fight against it for a while, and if it goes beyond the tipping point the “real” issues appear. So what can you do to protect your body? Definitely a healthy lifestyle that involves enough sleep, getting some vitamin D from the sun, stressing less, moving and of course: the right diet.
What we want to give our body are foods high in antioxidants (minerals, vitamins and polyphenols) and omega-3 fatty acids. A good start is to eat natural, not processed foods and grab veggies, fruits, fish, nuts and seeds whenever you can. There are tons of anti-inflammatory foods out there, but below you can see my top 6 for Asia.
Top 6 Anti-Inflammatory Foods In Asia
Asia has an abundance of dark leafy greens that are packed with antioxidants such as bok choy, kangkung and bayam. Greens contain lots of vitamins and minerals while not having much sugar in them. Blanched or even raw in a smoothie, they are always yummy.
Pineapples are extremely high in vitamin C (a great antioxidant) and an enzyme called bromelain that also has anti-inflammatory effects.
3. Coconut oil
Even though there is a lot of discussion around coconut oil since a new report has highlighted its saturated fat content, the report has been oversimplified and only looked at one key ingredient instead of seeing the whole picture. Coconut oil continues to be supported by many positive studies as well and is a “go ahead” in my list of anti-inflammatory foods.
4. Salmon & other fatty fish
Nowadays most people eat too much omega-6 (like in most vegetable oils), but not enough omega-3. Both of them are needed for the body to function and we need to have both as they are “essential” — meaning the body cant produce it.
While omega-6 supports the inflammation process (which is an important process in our body, but should not last long), omega-3 helps reduce inflammation again afterwards. So if we have too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3, the balance is off and inflammation continues. Salmon and other fatty fish is a great source of omega-3 oils to include in your diet.
5. Walnuts & flaxseeds
Also easy to get in Asia and for the same reason as above, walnuts and flaxseeds are a good source of omega-3 oils that are suitable for those on plant-based or vegetarian diets.
6. Turmeric, ginger & other spices
Definitely a must have on my list of Asian anti-inflammatory foods are spices. Turmeric and ginger have been long known for their potency and anti-inflammatory effects. They taste great in drinks like smoothies, “golden milk” or teas as well as for spicing up dishes.
It is great to have ingredients that are good for us, but how can you implement an anti-inflammatory diet in your life?
My Top 5 Tips For Implementing An Anti-Inflammatory Diet
1. Make small sustainable changes
Make changes step by step and don’t change your whole diet overnight – it won’t last. Make one adjustment per week and then move to the next one. So for example: one portion of greens a day.
2. Have your 5 a day
Work yourself up to a minimum of 5 portions of fruits and veggies a day, where 1 portion is the size of your fist. It may sound a lot, but already a nice big bowl of salad can be 3 portions in one go. This will ensure that you have the anti-oxidants you need.
3. Up with omega-3, down with omega-6
Include omega-3 fatty acids daily in your diet like fatty fish, walnuts and flaxseeds and reduce at the same time try to reduce omega-6 in your diet which is in a lot of what you eat — especially most vegetable oils. The ratio should be around 4:1… nowadays its closer to 20:1.
4. Spice it up
Add spices and herbs wherever you can. Spices like turmeric and ginger are easy to get — some herbs you can even plant in little pots at home. Tried and tested — it works!
5. Eat as natural as possible.
Ask yourself for each food item: farm or factory? If the answer is “factory” and it had been processed before it came to you, try to limit these foods as much as possible.