When you think of inflammation, you might think of twisted or sprained joints. Perhaps you remember the last time you sprained an ankle and it swelled up to balloon size. Maybe you remember a nasty bite that went red and swollen instead.
But those are only examples of inflammation that you can see. Actually, inflammation is something that happens inside the body all the time and that can affect you in many more ways than just visible changes to your skin. In fact, inflammation might even have a lot to do with conditions like fibromyalgia.
If you have ever been sick then you will likely be familiar with some of the things that inflammation can do to you, even if you weren’t aware that inflammation was to blame. It’s not just a runny nose or sneezing that you experience; you’ll also find that your joints ache, you feel somewhat depressed and you find it hard to think or for anything to hold your attention. In fact, this connection is so strong that some studies show that using aspirin can actually be an effective treatment for depression!
It’s been theorized that depression might actually be caused by inflammation in just the same way that swelling in the arm is. More specifically, this could be the result of ‘pro-inflammatory cytokines’ which act to combat perceived threats in the body (by encouraging inflammation among other things) but which might also lead to grogginess in the brain. In fact, this might even be an evolutionary desirable effect, as it could prevent us from being as active during recovery.
The problem is, a lot of things we do today cause inflammation that can harm our brains and thus many of us might be living with inflammation that is making us feel tired, lethargic and distracted rather than awake, energized and full of life!
Brain inflammation has been linked with depression, ADHD, brain fog, memory loss and more. Meanwhile, it is thought that chronic inflammation throughout the body might be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, cancer, metabolic disorder, diabetes and more. You can find more on this subject here.
Want to start lowering your inflammation to see if it in fact has any impact on your health and well-being? According to Dave Asprey, there are a number of herbs for inflammation that you can add to your cooking.
Here are a few of our favorite herbs for inflammation:
For example, turmeric is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent as well as being antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal. It has been touted as being a powerful tool for combating Alzheimer’s and numerous other conditions. It’s common in curry and tastes great with a bunch of other recipes too.
The benefits of turmeric largely come from the active component ‘curcumin’. This is a potent antioxidant that also reduces inflammation and which is also what makes turmeric bright yellow. You can enhance its benefits by taking it along with a little black pepper. Turmeric also contains a number of other anti-inflammatory compounds, including a number of COX-2 inhibitors – COX-2 being an enzyme that speeds up inflammation and also the growth of tumors! You can see why this is considered one of the best anti-inflammatory herbs.
Cayenne pepper meanwhile is another great tool in the battle against inflammation. This is a compound that makes food spicy and is widely found in ointments and creams. It’s a common pain-relief too as it depletes nerve cells of the chemical ‘substance P’. Substance P causes both inflammation and the sensation of pain, so this is a great thing to add to your diet if you do suffer from a condition like fibromyalgia or arthritis.
Cayenne also comes packed with flavonoids and carotenoids. These are antioxidants that prevent cellular damage, thereby further combating against inflammation.
Ginger is another herb for inflammation. This is a spice that can help to combat inflammation thanks to an antioxidant called ‘6-gingerol’, which prevents the production of free radicals called peroxynitrite, which similar to substance P also causes inflammation and pain. It’s commonly found in Asian dishes.
Other good options are cinnamon, cloves, sage and rosemary. All these are great anti-inflammatory herbs and will improve the way you feel and make your food tastier without adding calories to your meals!
It’s not just herbs and spices that combat inflammation though. In fact, one of the most effective ways to avoid chronic inflammation in the brain is to consume more omega 3 fatty acid. The body needs both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acid but the problem is that both compete for the same ‘space’ in our bodies and most of us get too much of the latter. Omega 6 is found in all kinds of processed foods, while omega 3 is only really found in fish and nuts. Thus, most of us have far too much omega 6 and not enough omega 3, which is a problem seeing as excess omega 6 can lead to inflammation.
Consuming more omega 3 can prevent this type of inflammation then, while at the same time helping to improve ‘cell membrane permeability’, effectively making your brain cell walls more flexible so that important signals can pass through.
Another great way to combat inflammation is to consume more pineapple. As well as being an excellent place to get your vitamin C, this is also a good place to get bromelain – a digestive enzyme that has been shown to be effective at combating swelling, bruising and pain. It’s also great for fighting arthritis. Cherries are even better and have been shown to be great at reducing pain and boosting recovery while combating inflammation.
For more anti-inflammatory foods, see here.
If you suspect you may be suffering from chronic inflammation, then try adding a few of these ingredients to your diet and see if they improve your health and well-being. Let us know what works for you in the comments below and while you’re at it, try and stay away from sugar – that increases inflammation more than anything!