Inflammation has been a western medical mystery for a long time, but it has now been linked to many severe diseases and there is current research investigating how far reaching it is. The western research has only been proving what Ayurveda has known all along about the importance of an anti-inflammatory diet for healing. Our job when taking care of our health becomes about knowing when inflammation is a natural response and when it can lead to other health issues. Acute inflammation is a natural and normal response to help heal a wounded site, like a burn. The skin will become swollen, painful, and red, perhaps even blister. When this happens the body is sending extra red blood cells, immune cells, and antioxidants to heal the hurt area.
The dangerous side of inflammation is mostly the low-level chronic inflammation. It usually goes unnoticed by individuals and is linked to:
• Cardiovascular disease • Obesity • Cancer • Type 2 Diabetes • Alzheimer’s
The process of low-level chronic inflammation builds up over time and can create major impairment, which means each person needs to tailor a diet and herbs to their individual life.
Diet alone can’t always stop low-level chronic inflammation, but it is the best way to start for most issues with inflammation. An anti-inflammatory diet keeps the gut microorganisms healthy and flourishing, while preventing the toxic chemicals that lead to low-level chronic inflammation from entering the bloodstream. A healthy gut sends signals of wellbeing through the vagus nerve to the heart and brain. Your gut is the key to experiencing overall physical and mental health!
An Ayurveda lifestyle, foods, and herbs are used to to reduce inflammation in the gut, which helps reduce arthritis, fibromyalgia, asthma, leaky gut, autoimmune disorders, and more! Ayurveda works to treat the whole system to prevent any disease and illness.
How to Begin an Anti- Inflammatory Diet:
We suggest starting tracking what you normally eat. Write down a list of your diet for a week, so you can see what you eat and how you can make some changes to your diet.
After this begin to add more anti-inflammatory foods and herbs into your diet. A natural, whole-food diet can help maintain and reduce inflammation. In general you want to eat organic foods with a diversity of micronutrients. We suggest increasing your fiber intake and incorporating more cooling foods. We suggest adding more fruits and dark leafy greens into your diet. It helps to remember that anything bitter is good for the liver!
An anti-inflammatory diet, especially for summer, can help cool the pitta dosha, reduce anger, and help reduce skin rashes or acne. We suggest eating less acidic and heating foods, such as fermented foods, red meats, fatty-foods, and deep-fried foods. Also, it is helpful to reduce your overall sugar intake to reduce inflammation.
The Best Spices and Herbs for Inflammation:
Turmeric: Turmeric is one of the best anti-inflammatory agents and can be used for most people! Some of the many benefits of turmeric include: decreasing pathogenic bacteria found in the intestines, calming inflammation, reducing undigested food in the gastrointestinal tract, treating stomach ulcers, and colds. Turmeric can be added into oatmeal, vegetables, and kitchari! Ginger: Ginger is a powerful spice that helps to cleanse the body of toxins and reduce inflammation. It can help increase the secretion of digestive enzymes, and promote healthy circulation. It relieves gas and cramps in the abdomen, including menstrual cramps. Ginger is a great diaphoretic and great for colds, cough, and vomiting. We recommend using fresh ginger in meals from oatmeal, soups, to vegetable lunches. Fresh ginger is also great soaked in lemon juice eaten 15 minutes before a meal as a digestive appetizer.
Aloe: Aloe is a powerful healing and cooling plant. It helps reduce inflammation and rejuvenate the body. It’s a wonderful tonic for the liver and spleen. Aloe regulates sugar and fat metabolism. It helps reduce heat, so is great for summer. It is more palatable if it is diluted with water or apple juice, as it can be quite bitter. Be aware when buying aloe in stores to get quality processed, pure aloe, as many aloe “juices” contain sugar additives.
This is just scratching the surface on the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet! Ayurveda teaches us that prevention of disease is incredibly important. Instead of dealing with symptoms of illness, we can deal with the root of the issue and have a higher quality of life.
References: Frawley, David, and Vasant Lad. The Yoga of Herbs. Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin; 2001. 101, 122, 150.