Eating the right foods is an essential part of maintaining a good quality of life. This is because a critical component to homeostasis — that is, your body’s overall well-being and immune response — rests in your gut. That’s right. Gut health is a crucial indicator of your overall health, and if things are off there, you can bet you’ll be seeing the warning signs popping up all over.
In this article, we’re going to introduce you to the benefits of eating anti-inflammatory foods and hopefully encourage you to make them a staple in your diet. We’re going to show you that eating this way doesn’t have to be boring. You can use innovative ingredients like CBD tinctures and old favorites such as fatty fish like salmon and tuna.
But first, we’re going to cover the basics for you so you understand precisely what inflammation is, why it’s harmful to your body and why eating an anti-inflammatory diet can benefit your long-term health.
What is inflammation?
There is literally an entire medical journal dedicated to the continued study and research of inflammation, so this is actually a very loaded question.
However, put simply, inflammation is your body’s response to either infections or injuries.
You’ve probably observed this kind of reaction from your body when you’ve suffered from a paper cut. Your finger might bleed just a little, but then the cut area grows red and might even puff up a little. What’s happening in your body’s immune system is it’s sending cells that way to try and fight off any intruders and heal the damage done.
Now, imagine that kind of battle going on in your digestive system.
The only difference is you’re the one cutting yourself through the consumption of inflammatory foods such as refined starches, sugar, saturated and trans fats. And your gut microbiome is suffering as a result.
What is an anti-inflammatory diet?
An anti-inflammatory diet is going to be rich in foods that have natural anti-inflammatory properties. These will include foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, natural antioxidants and fiber from fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Researchers have concluded by studying long-term dietary choice patterns that the right food choices result in a healthier gut. In fact, they were even able to identify specific foods and nutrients associated with particular good gut bacteria known to have anti-inflammatory effects. That’s good news for us folks who want to live healthier, longer lives.
So, bring on plant-based foods, like nuts, fruit, vegetables and whole-grain cereals. Add in some fermented dairy, like yogurt, and some oily fish and we’ve got a recipe for gut health success that is anti-inflammatory by nature.
But just in case you’re not too sure how to arrange all these things, we’ve got you covered from morning until night for every meal — snacks included.
Anti-Inflammatory Recipes to Add to Your Diet
1. Breakfast Parfait
Ingredients: Whole grain oats, plain Greek yogurt, blueberries/strawberries.
Pre-cook your oats.
Then, using a bowl or Mason jar, layer the oats, plain Greek yogurt and blueberries/strawberries on top. It’s a great meal you can take on the go in the morning if you don’t like eating when you first wake up and it is easy to prep for the entire week.
Swap out the blueberries and strawberries for a blackberry/raspberry mix if you’re getting bored.
2. Trail Mix Morning Snack
Ingredients: Walnuts, pepitas, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, cacao nibs.
Mix equal parts of each ingredient in a large bowl. Then, place it in a sealable container or bag and bring it with you to work, class or wherever life is taking you today.
Make extra and you’ll have snacks for the entire week.
3. A Hearty Lunch Salad
Ingredients: Mix of leafy greens (kale, baby spinach, Swiss chard, etc.), bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, sliced almonds, shelled sunflower seeds, black beans, avocado, cottage cheese (optional).
Dressing: Extra virgin olive oil, CBD oil, crushed garlic, a pinch of salt, lemon juice.
Layer the greens on the bottom and build the other ingredients on top in the order listed. If you’re bringing your salad with you to work, package the dressing separately. If you’re not a fan of cottage cheese, you can substitute skinless chicken breast. But it should be oven-baked and not fried! When shopping CBD products for the right CBD oil, choose either a naturally flavored one or one with a citrus flavor.
4. Dinner’s Served
Ingredients: Salmon, asparagus, ginger-turmeric quinoa. Cherry tomatoes to garnish.
Start by cooking your quinoa. Bring two cups of water to a boil and then reduce it to medium-low heat. Add one cup of quinoa and 1 teaspoon of dried ginger and turmeric to add color, aroma and flavor. Then, cover and let it simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Season your salmon with a pinch of salt and pepper. Place it skin down on a baking pan. When the quinoa has cooked for 10 minutes, pop the salmon into the oven and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t overcook it!
Bring a pot of water to a boil big enough to fit your asparagus. When the quinoa is finished and the salmon is almost ready to come out, drop the asparagus into the pot of water. You’re only blanching them, not boiling them, so don’t leave them for too long. Asparagus is meant to be crunchy and bright green.
If you time it alright, it’ll all be ready together. You’ll have a delicious meal that takes minimal prep, not a whole lot of washing up and, yes, it’s anti-inflammatory!
5. Cauliflower Popcorn for Evening Munchies
Ingredients: Cauliflower florets, olive oil, salt.
Ensure your cauliflower florets have been cut into bite-sized pieces. Toss them in olive oil and sprinkle on some salt. Roast them in the oven at 450 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes, until tender and browned. Place them in a bowl and enjoy with your favorite movie.
Plan to Get Creative!
Some of the worst foods that cause the most inflammation are the convenience foods we often reach for. By making a plan to eat better and enjoy healthier food options, you’ll be setting yourself up for success.