Treating Inflammation The Natural Way

How food and herbs can reduce inflammation and promote recovery

Fresh ginger root and ground ginger spice - Zingiber officinale. Wooden background

What is inflammation and how does it relate to an active lifestyle?

The first thing we need to understand about inflammation is that it’s not all bad. In fact, inflammation is a natural part of our immune system, and without it, we wouldn’t be able to heal and recover. When muscles undergo intense exercise, as from a resistance training or endurance workout, there is trauma to the muscle fibres that is referred to as muscle injury or damage. Any type of trauma, even if it has a positive outcome, will cause stress to the body. Inflammation is the body’s way of healing muscle from the damage and stress caused by exercise. While inflammation is necessary, it also affects recovery time due to muscle soreness and stiffness. If you want to maintain a frequent workout schedule and improve your performance, you will need to support your recovery. In this article, we take a look at the various foods and herbs that naturally counter inflammation and promote recovery time between workouts. 

Anti-inflammatory foods 

The general rule is to eat a diet rich in alkaline-forming foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. The following alkalizing foods are especially beneficial as they are known to help the body minimize stress and reduce inflammation making your muscles more efficient, as well as supporting long-term wellness. 

All types of berries are rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals like anthocyanin, which limit tissue degeneration while reducing inflammation.

Bok choy
Bok choy is an excellent source of plant-based calcium, vitamin A and beta carotene. Add some to your smoothies and stir-fries! 

Broccoli is rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that reduces inflammation and protects collagen. 

Cauliflower is a great source of vitamin K, which can help lower inflammation in the body. 

Another powerful anti-inflammatory vegetable. Celery contains apigenin – a substance that lowers oxidative stress, prevents cancer, and reduces inflammation.

Garlic has many anti-inflammatory properties which studies show help ease arthritis pain. Allicin, a substance found in garlic, is filled with anti-bacterial properties that work like penicillin. Garlic is also a natural antibiotic that helps boost the immune system, improve circulation, and lower blood pressure.

Hemp seeds are a superfood. They provide complete protein, containing all ten essential amino acids, not to mention a healthy dose of omega-3 and six fats to help minimize inflammation in the body and lubricate joints. This protein plus healthy fat combo makes hemp an ideal post-workout food to support recovery and build lean muscle. 

Kale is an impressive source of vitamin K, a nutrient known to regulate your body’s inflammatory process. It also contains plant-based omega-3s and 100 calories of kale provide roughly 25 per cent of the recommended daily value of plant-based omega-3s. These essential fats play an important role in repair and recovery. 

Take the advice from Popeye – spinach will help you grow stronger muscles! Spinach contains more than a dozen different flavonoid compounds that function as anti-inflammatory agents.

Anti-inflammatory herbs

Here are five herbs that are known to relieving inflammation, swelling, and pain naturally. 

Burdock root has been valued for thousands of years for its ability to purify the blood, cleanse the liver and cool internal heat. It helps remove acid build-up and is known to reduce swelling in the body, especially around the joints. Overall burdock has potent anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects.
Parts used: Leaves, roots and seeds

Devil’s Claw 
Devil’s claw has been widely used in Europe to fight inflammation specifically around the knee and hip joint. It’s also known to relieve arthritis pain, headache, and low back pain.
Parts used: Roots and tubers

This anti-inflammatory spice can help with arthritis, nausea, morning sickness, and migraines. It is also amazing for your digestion.
Parts used: Rhizome. 

Acts as a natural anti-inflammatory steroid (cortisone, etc.) without inhibiting the adrenal production of steroids. Licorice promotes tissue healing, especially of the GI tract.
Parts used: Root and dried rhizome

Turmeric is wonderful as an anti-inflammatory herb and expressly beneficial for anyone experiencing arthritis, swelling, or inflammation around the menstrual period, or any other autoimmune-type symptoms. It’s also wonderful for your skin and a natural anti-wrinkle remedy. Be sure to pair with black pepper to activate turmeric’s healing properties.
Parts used: Rhizome

To receive the greatest benefits from these foods choose organic and local produce whenever possible.

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