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Maintaining the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant balance

Updated: Jul 23, 2021

Inflammation and oxidation are behind a lot of health issues. Do you know which foods are good anti-inflammatories and antioxidants?

Many conditions have a common underlying cause of too much inflammation and oxidation (see this report on social isolation's effect on inflammation - making it all the more important to stay connected during times of necessary isolation). We each can manage a certain amount of inflammation without symptoms, but when the levels raise too high, symptoms arise.

CONDITIONS & SYMPTOMS related to inflammation & oxidation:

  • perimenopause/menopause, PMS, endometriosis

  • anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue,

  • chronic pain, head injury (concussion/traumatic brain injury), fibromyalgia

  • cardiovascular disease, hypertension, atherosclerosis, high cholesterol

  • blood sugar instability/diabetes

  • poor immune function & chronic lung conditions

Consider how your diet stacks up in the pro/anti-inflammatory categories:

PRO-INFLAMMATORY [avoid - or consume less of these]:

  • alcohol, sugar (especially refined sugar),

  • gluten (especially if low estrogen)

  • red meat (grass-fed is less inflammatory)

  • processed foods, trans-fats (including processed meat, deep-fried foods, margarine)

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY [beneficial - consume more of these]:

  • green tea (or EGCG - though the L-theanine content in the tea provides added calming effect);

  • holy basil tea (aka 'tulsi' in Ayurveda - a great herb for asthma, digestive issues or stress too)

  • turmeric (culinary powder, or extract for higher potency without gastrointestinal effects of high doses of powder - curcumin isn't the only beneficial active ingredient!);

  • ginger (fresh sliced or mashed into tea or foods; powdered, or extract for higher potency)

  • extra virgin olive oil (especially heart healthy!)

  • black seeds/black seed oil (nigella sativa) - used in middle eastern cooking traditionally - try adding to your meals!

ANTIOXIDANTS [all the anti-inflammatories above, plus these, are andioxidants]:

  • blueberries, acai berry, fig

  • teas: elderberry, rosehip (a great source of vitamin C),

  • herbs: parsley, oregano, basil, rosemary, cilantro, garlic, onion, cloves

  • broccoli sprouts (& other 'brassica' family veggies too)

How often do you have the Brassica family over? [eat these sulphur rich veggies daily]:

  • kale, bok choi/tatsoi, mustard greens/mizuna, collard greens

  • broccoli, rapini (broccoli rabe), broccolini, cauliflower, romanesco cauliflower

  • cabbage, brussel sprouts, napa cabbage, savoy cabbage, turnips, kohlrabi, radish/daikon

**Tips for eating brassicas: avoid eating raw (steaming until bright in colour reduces goitrogenic effects and aids digestion); if you have adverse gastrointestinal symptoms from eating larger amounts, you may have a dysbiosis that needs addressing (eat only the amount you tolerate without symptom aggravation & please seek additional support)

CAUTION: Nothing written in this blog is intended as medical advice. While whole foods are generally safe for most people when eaten in moderation, it is best to speak to your naturopathic doctor before making decisions to take supplements or higher doses of any single food. If you notice undesired reactions occurring after introducing a new food into your diet, stop immediately and seek medical advice.

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