Inflammation: Friend or Foe?

Inflammation is a natural response to injury to allow immune cells and nutrients to reach the damaged site to provide the resources for healing and to encourage you to rest. However, the body can over respond and the pain and inflammation we feel after injury can hinder our recovery and last too long. Injury can result from physical trauma, autoimmunity (body attacking itself e.g. Rheumatoid Arthritis), bacteria, viruses, and emotional stress. Inflammation should be a short term state, it is when it becomes long term or chronic, which is especially common when the the trigger has not been identified and removed that problems can occur.

The body may also choose to stay in this state of stress and respond inappropriately to what should be seen as ‘safe’, for example, foods, environmental allergens, and even parts of the body. Chronic inflammatory conditions often are triggered by an initial immune threat never switches off, finding more and more things to drive the response. Chronic inflammation often stems from the digestive system and so by eating in a way to support optimal gut health and by managing stress, the body can calm and the excessive inflammatory response switched off.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods To Include In Your Diet Nutrient Role Food Sources
Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acid (unsaturated) Encourages more anti-inflammatory responses. Oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, kippers, trout, salmon, anchovies, seaweeds.
Omega 6 Essential Fatty Acid (unsaturated) Can help to modulate the inflammatory response. Note that a balance between Omega 3 and 6 is essential. Meat (especially offal cuts, on the bone chicken, duck & game), nuts, seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, linseed, hemp, sesame including tahini), vegetables, avocados, olive oil.
Antioxidants These mop up the waste products from inflammation helping to prevent the viscous cycle that encourages more inflammation. Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, orange, lime and lemon zest (if unwaxed), seeded fruits such as grapes with seeds and strawberries, turmeric and tomato puree.
Vitamin A This has the above antioxidant benefits as well as helping the immune system to work properly. Natural butter, offal meats, meat, whole milk, whole yoghurt, cheese. The following vegetarian sources contain beta carotene which your body may convert into Vitamin A: sweet, potato, squash, carrots, yellow or orange pepper, pumpkin.
Vitamin C This has the above antioxidant benefits as well as immune system support. Berries, papaya, tomatoes, apples, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli (lightly cooked), orange, melon, kiwi, kale and pineapple.
Vitamin E This has the above antioxidant benefits. Nuts, seeds, avocados, green leafy vegetables, papaya, asparagus, peppers.
Vitamin D Modulates the  immune system so it can regulate and calm. Sunlight, oily fish, eggs.