If you have followed me for any amount of time, you will know that I live by the strong belief that food needs to be medicine, food needs to be " sensible fuel" and food needs to be celebration.
However, in a REAL world where life happens, we sometimes need food to be intervention while we have no energy to celebrate or simply don't even want to think about preparing food. We just came home from a weekend in the Karoo and for the first time in years experienced a harsh domino effect of flu/ pnemonia. You can eat as well as you want, friends, but stress and lack of sleep programs a certain havoc in our hormones, gut and immune system. (Yup, I have read numerous articles on this, where they give you a list of things and then in the end says, "none of this will get better as long as you stress so try to relax…" It's like the most spiteful, most insulting thing to tell someone who had to deal with a load of life challenges in my humble opinion. Alas, it is true.)
So if I can't get my babies to sleep according to my preferred schedule (which would relieve stress, really) And I can't control every aspect of my work like superwoman would, what is my next line of defense? Embrace an anti - inflammation regime baby! Yes, by being mindful of the real foods that can make a real difference, we can actually get to a place of three steps forward while maybe two steps back. In my opinion, forward is forward! Heeeha! (I will admit that I am on my very first pain meds since before my pregnancy, so let me just throw out a disclaimer if unicorns and butterflies are mentioned at any point in time.)
Seriously though, what is inflammation and why is it worth fighting it first with a plate of dinner? The good news is that on a low carb diet you have already eliminated the biggest inflammation culprits called SUGAR and WHITE FLOUR.
But there is a wealth of nutritional power foods that we are not really tapping into most of the time. A resource amazingly simple to plant, grow, inexpensive to buy and a very real inflammation busting underdog…. I'm referring to herbs and spices. Please watch this short study
(Just note that Dr Greger is a doctor and not an entertainer… stick with him till the end. So worth it struss Bob!)
So this is what Dr Mercola wrote about inflammation on his site and being slightly under the weather myself, I am going to quote him instead.
"Four Spices That Pack a Powerful Anti-Inflammatory Punchby Dr Mercola
As noted in the featured article: "[T]he results represents what might happen when cells in our body are exposed to the levels of spices that circulate in our bloodstream after normal daily consumption—not megadoses in some pill. Just the amount that makes our spaghetti sauce, pumpkin pie, or curry sauce taste good."
Other Potent Anti-Inflammatory Spices
An earlier study published in the Journal of Medicinal Foods3 found a direct correlation between the antioxidant phenol content of spice and herb extracts and their ability to inhibit glycation and block the formation of AGE compounds (advanced glycation end products), making them potent preventers of heart disease and premature aging.
Here, cloves were ranked as the most potent of 24 common herbs and spices found in your spice rack. In all, the following were found to be the top 10 most potent anti-inflammatory herbs and spices:
3 Jamaican allspice
4 Apple pie spice mixture
6 Pumpkin pie spice mixture
10 Gourmet Italian spice
Inflammation Is at the Heart of Most Chronic Diseases
It's important to realize that chronic inflammation is the source of many if not most diseases, including cancer, obesity, and heart disease, which essentially makes it the leading cause of death in the US.
While inflammation is a perfectly normal and beneficial process that occurs when your body's white blood cells and chemicals protect you from foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses, it leads to trouble when the inflammatory response gets out of hand. Your diet has a lot to do with this chain of events.
While among the most potent, ounce for ounce, herbs and spices are certainly not the only anti-inflammatory ingredients available. A number of foods are well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties, and making sure you're eating a wide variety of them on a regular basis can go a long way toward preventing chronic illness.
Top Seven Anti-Inflammatory Foods
The following foods and nutrients deserve special mention for their ability to quell inflammatory responses in your body:
1. Animal-based omega-3 fat
Animal-based omega-3 fats—found in fatty fish like wild Alaskan salmon and fish- or krill oil—help fight inflammation throughout your body. It's particularly important for brain health. Research published in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology4 in 2012 confirmed that dietary supplementation with krill oil effectively reduced inflammation and oxidative stress.
2. Leafy greens
Dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collard greens and Swiss chard contain powerful antioxidants, flavonoids, carotenoids, and vitamin C—all of which help protect against cellular damage. Ideally, opt for organic locally grown veggies that are in season, and consider eating a fair amount of them raw. Juicing is an excellent way to get more greens into your diet.
Blueberries rate very high in antioxidant capacity compared to other fruits and vegetables. They are also lower in sugar than many other fruits.
Matcha tea is the most nutrient-rich green tea and comes in the form of a stone-ground unfermented powder. The best Matcha comes from Japan and has up to 17 times the antioxidants of wild blueberries, and seven times more than dark chocolate.
Tulsi is another tea loaded with anti-inflammatory antioxidants and other micronutrients that support immune function and heart health.
5. Fermented vegetables and traditionally cultured foods
Optimizing your gut flora is important for a well-functioning immune system, and helps ward off chronic inflammation. In fact, the majority of inflammatory diseases start in your gut, as the result of an imbalanced microbiome. Fermented foods such as kefir, natto, kimchee, miso, tempeh, pickles, sauerkraut, olives, and other fermented vegetables, will help 'reseed' your gut with beneficial bacteria.
Fermented foods can also help your body rid itself of harmful toxins such as heavy metals and pesticides that promote inflammation.
6. Shiitake mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms contain strong compounds with the natural ability to discourage inflammation, such as Ergothioneine, which inhibits oxidative stress.
They also contain a number of unique nutrients that many do not get enough of in their diet. One is copper, which is one of the few metallic elements accompanied by amino and fatty acids that are essential to human health. Since your body can't synthesize copper, your diet must supply it regularly. Copper deficiency can be a factor in the development of coronary heart disease.
Garlic has been treasured for its medicinal properties for centuries. It's also one of the most heavily researched plant foods around. Over 170 studies5 show it benefitting more than 150 different conditions. Garlic exerts its benefits on multiple levels, offering anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and antioxidant properties.
It's thought that much of garlic's therapeutic effect comes from its sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin. Research6 has revealed that as allicin digests in your body it produces sulfenic acid, a compound that reacts faster with dangerous free radicals than any other known compound.
Thanks DOC! So I stormed out to my herb garden to see if my crop yielded anything of immediate anti inflammatory promise. Also, I read that carnosine, a compound found in chicken broth/soup supports the bodies immune system to fight flu. So chicken, veggies and herbs it was! But when amidst a viral combat, one tends to not feel like cooking… Solution: Electronic pressure cooker to the rescue and a recipe that is as uncomplicated as can be.
- 1 free range chicken or chicken pieces (I cook bones in first for extra gut health benefits, but deboned will save some time and effort too - choose your battles wisely in times of sickness young one ;-)
- 5 cm chunk of fresh ginger root, peeled and grated.
- Juice and rind of 2 lemons
- 1 tsp crushed garlic 1 flat
- Tbsp cinnamon Himalayan salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- Fresh rosemary, thyme, oregano and chives. (I used 2 - 3 sprigs each and finely chopped it)
- 1 large bag baby spinach
- 1 x 400g mixed chopped mushrooms
- 1 can coconut cream
1. Add chicken to your pressure cooker and fill with water just to cover the chicken pieces.
2. Add lemon juice and rind, salt and pepper and steam away on high for 20 - 30 minutes or until chicken falls from the bone. Take all the chicken pieces out allow to cool for a bit and remove all bones.
3. In the meanwhile, add all the rest of the ingredients to the stock and steam for another 10 minutes on high.Roughly chop and add the deboned chicken back into the stock.
4. Now you can puree this lovely soup to a creamy bowl of fragrant awesomness (this is what I did, but it was mostly to hide the mushrooms in the soup. I know… us moms are deviously clever that way.) Or you can serve up a chunky bowl of inflammation fighting goodness too.
If you would google inflammation fighting foods, the majority will be foods we focus on anyway on a low carb diet. And if you would google inflammation causing foods, well the good news is, you have eliminated most of them anyway.
I wrote in my book how I really dislike it when people refer to a low carb lifestyle as a diet. It saddens me that it is mostly seen as a quick- fix, fat consuming, controversial fad diet that will fade as the thousands of others.
So in my protest I think I will get on my soapbox today and say: "Hi, I'm Inè, I like to give my family a diet that is rich in inflammation fighting foods and low in inflammation causing foods! We are following a normal carb lifestyle, you know, the kind where we eat healthy amounts of carbs from unprosessed sources. Mostly veggies, some fruit and then we "spice" things up to turn our regular real food into superfood!
PS. Did I mention that 85% dark chocolate also has inflammation fighting properties? Yes, all is well with the world again. (You are welcome)
Yours in sniffles, slightly dumb brained fuzziness, happily antibiotic free and always in low carb, Inè.