How to Become an Anti-Inflammatory Activist
By Lobelia Lawson – If you’ve got an autoimmune disease the immune system likes to pull ninja-like manoeuvers by attacking itself and this way causing inflammation. You can also suffer from inflammation from asthma and food intolerances. In any case the best counter attack could be FOOD!
Inflammation isn’t all bad. It is one of our natural defenses. If we sprain an ankle, it will swell to help protect that area until our body has started to heal. The immune system is the same. When affected by outside sources such as bacteria or viruses, the immune system will cause inflammation until the problem has been resolved. The issue for some occurs when the immune system stays switched on due to an auto-immune disease such as Crohn’s disease, diabetes or multiple scleroses, or because of chronicle inflammation from diseases like psoriasis, asthma or food intolerances.
When I started researching and experimenting with anti-inflammatory foods back in 2008, there was very little information out there on the subject. I was suffering from food intolerances and recurring pericarditis (the latter is an inflammation of the lining that surrounds the heart muscle). Pericarditis can be extremely painful, so I was put on very high doses of NSAIDS, which worked in the short-term to control the pain and inflammation, but after an extended period of time left me with nasty side effects. I knew there had to be a better way, and this is what led me to research and experiment with anti-inflammatory foods.
A lifestyle change
Introducing anti-inflammatory foods is the main dietary change that I found made a difference in my health and well-being. If you’ve got a body like mine in which the immune system likes to pull ninja-like manoeuvers by silently attacking itself and this way causing inflammation – or you are perhaps suffering from inflammation from food intolerances and other diseases – the best counter attack could very well be F O O D! But it is not a short-term diet I am suggesting. It is a lifestyle change! A way of eating that helps to prevent illness from occurring in the first place, and also to manage that which you might already have. It’s not good enough to change the way you eat only when you feel or fall ill. You must commit to this lifestyle in order to regain and remain in good health. There are three things that you can initially do to help reduce inflammation:
1. No soft drinks/refined sweets including diet products (replace with water, fresh ginger tea, green tea, and fresh juices)
Reason: these substances increases levels of inflammatory messengers called cytokines.
2. No processed prepackaged foods/fried foods (if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it!)
Reason: this food increases inflammatory markers and promotes high cholesterol and heart disease.
3. Cook most of your meals at home and take your own lunch to work.
Reason: you’ll make healthier choices, can incorporate items from your AI diet, and you’ll save money!
Such a lifestyle change takes commitment, but when you’re able to run up the stairs without aches and pains, or you are no longer nauseous, itchy or out of breath a lot of the time, then you’ll understand why it’s important! Below is my master list. Keep in mind that not all foods are for everyone and you need to make sure to exclude the foods that aren’t suitable for your food intolerance or other dietary restrictions. I’ve marked the foods that are not suggested for those with histamine intolerance (HI) and salicylate sensitivity (SS).
Arugula (SS?) , Broccoli (SS), Brussels Sprouts , Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Fennel Bulb (SS) , Garlic (SS), Green Beans, Green Onions/Spring Onions (SS) , Kale, Leeks (SS), Olives (HI) , Spinach (HI), Sweet potatoes (SS), Zucchini (SS).
Acerola Cherries (HI), Apples (golden delicoius are OK with SS), Avocados (HI) (SS) , Black Currants (HI) (SS), Blueberries (SS), Fresh Pineapple (HI) (SS), Kiwi (SS), Lemons (HI) (SS), Limes (HI) (SS), Oranges (HI) (SS), Raspberries (HI) (SS), Strawberries (HI) (SS), Tomatoes (HI – the green ones are OK) (SS).
Almonds (HI) (SS), Cod (HI) , Flaxseed , Halibut, Herring (HI), Lemon Sole, Rainbow Trout (HI), Salmon, Sardines (HI?), Snapper Fish (HI?), Sunflower Seeds, Tuna (HI), Walnuts (SS), Whitefish. (Fish must not be farm raised, for those histamine intolerance it must be very fresh or frozen from fresh)
Ghee, Flaxseed Oil , Olive Oil (SS), Fish Oil.
Fresh Ginger Tea (SS), Green Tea (HI) (SS), Dandelion Tea , Nettle Tea.
Herbs and Spices
Basil (SS) , Boswellia, Butterbur, Chillis (SS) , Cinnamon (HI) 8SS) , Cloves (HI) (SS), Cocoa (raw cacao or 70% + dark – in small amounts if you are histamine intolerant) (SS), Ginger (SS), Holy Basil (SS), Mint (SS), Nigella Sativa (SS), Oregano (SS), Parsley, Rosemary (SS), Thyme (SS), Turmeric (SS).
This list was a bit daunting to me in the beginning as I travel a lot for my work and was eating lots of stuff that I shouldn’t (Crisps, sweets, etc.). My leg up in the situation is that I am trained as a chef and have done quite a lot of recipe development for my places of work. I now find that the easiest way for me to make sure I’m getting proper nutrition and anti-inflammatory foods on a daily basis is to have a fresh juice at least once per day. I usually have mine first thing in the morning. I find that I am able to pack my juicer and shop along the way no matter where I travel.
Here’s a basic recipe of my juice each morning
1 fennel bulb , a rib of celery , 2 cucumber, carrots, apples , handful of kale. You can also add in 1/4 inch piece of fresh ginger if you like.
Nothing is better than a “Courgetti”with pesto
One that doesn’t take forever to make, and you can make wherever you are and even take with you for lunch. Let’s start out with the ingredients:
2 medium to large courgettes (zucchini)
25 grams basil
25 grams kale
60 ml olive oil
Pinch of salt
2 cloves garlic
50 g ground almonds
Squeeze of lemon juice
Serves 4 people.
Prepare 1/2 courgette per person. You can either use a vegetable spiralizer, or use your regular box cheese grater. Place the grater on it’s side with the thickest grate facing up, and move your courgette forward on it’s side against the grate to create long pasta-like ribbons.
Place basil, kale, salt, oil and garlic into a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add ground almonds, lemon juice and 2 tbsp of water until you have the consistency that you desire. Garnish with freshly chopped tomatoes. Voila!
There are lots of other great anti-inflammatory recipes out there. Here are some more from my blog:
I wish you all success and health in your own experimentation with an anti-inflammatory diet. As with all dietary changes, it is a good idea to consult your doctor or a resourceful nutritionist before making any major changes.
Further Inspiration from people who have used anti-inflammatory foods to heal their bodies:
The Low Histamine Chef: Yasmina is a journalist and researcher who writes amazing cookbooks based on anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine foods. Her level of commitment to researching and learning to heal herself (and others) naturally is truly inspiring.
Sondi Bruner: Sondi is a writer and a holistic nutritionist who has successfully weaned herself of all medication for her Crohn’s disease by eating healthy unprocessed foods. Her recipes are simple and delicious and there is a wealth of information to be found at her website.
No drug, anti-inflammatory diet shows positive results in clinical trials http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/45447.php
Nutrition and inflammation data on multiple foods
Lobelia Lawson is a professional musician, vegetarian chef, nutrition buff and jeweller. She is currently working on a new album, a cookbook and is developing recipes for an organic food company in Devon that sells through Sainsbury’s, Ocado, and Waitrose. She lives in Birmingham England with her son Flapjack and the UK’s leading solo bassist, Steve Lawson.