- How to wage war on inflammation – my dietary tips revealed
- Argh, my latest pain nightmare could have been avoided!
- Why wonky vegetables are better for reducing pain
I’m such an idiot!
Honestly, despite writing health newsletters for almost two decades, I’m TERRIBLE at taking my own advice.
Just to explain…
The other week I mentioned to you that I’d bought myself a standing desk.
It’s one of those contraptions that can go up and down, so you can sit for a bit, then stand for a bit.
I’ve been meaning to do this for ages…
Because so much evidence shows that sitting for too long, too often, is very bad for us.
When we sit for extended periods, our bodies switch into power-save mode.
As a result, metabolism, which is essentially the body’s incinerator, becomes sluggish, struggling to burn fats and sugars efficiently.
Our muscles, particularly those in our legs and glutes, start to lose strength and endurance.
When we sit, we put pressure on our spinal discs, affecting our posture. Over time, this can lead to back pain.
Of course, I KNEW all of this…
I have written about it in these letters multiple times.
And yet I dithered and hesitated to sort it out.
That is, until a few months ago, when I started getting terrible pain in my lower back, all the way down my upper leg.
I went to a ‘soft tissue’ practitioner who prodded and poked and told me that a whole load of muscles had become inflamed, causing nerve pain.
He even ticked them all off for me on a chart: psoas, iliacus, quadratus lumborum, gluteus medius, obturator externus, quadratus femoris, superior gemilli.
It sounds like the guest list for a Roman gladiator contest!
And all of this was caused – he reckoned – by sitting.
This was what inspired my purchase of a new desk modification, which allows me to stand for half of my working day, reducing the pressure on my muscles and nerves.
But it hasn’t solved the problem yet,
Because my body seems to be stuck in the grip of runaway inflammation, and so I need to do MORE than just sit for less time.
I need to think about my internal health, too.
So I’ve put myself on an anti-inflammatory diet.
I thought I might share some of my tips with you, as they could help you control and avoid pain, too.
How to Wage War on Inflammation
I’ll kick off with the obvious one: omega-3 fatty acids.
About three times a week, eat salmon, sardines, and mackerel.
And/or you can add these vegan omega 3 sources:
- Flaxseeds are brimming with ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), a type of omega-3 fat.
- Walnuts are one of the richest plant sources of this kind of fat.
- Chia seeds also pack a hefty omega-3 punch.
- Hemp seeds not only give you a dose of omega-3, they contain gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a type of omega-6.
In the morning I chuck a handful of these beauties onto some fruit and unsweetened natural yogurt.
I also recommend a daily dose of my old favourites, ginger and turmeric.
Curcumin, the active ingredient of turmeric, is a well known pain reliever that I write about in my book The Spice Healer (you can get a copy here.
Ginger is another classic anti-inflammatory that has been used for many generations to reduce swelling and pain.
So I recommend you start your day by blending a chunk of fresh ginger with a teaspoon of turmeric powder, a banana, a splash of milk, and a drizzle of raw manuka honey.
Or, in the evening, heat milk gently on the stove, and whisk in a teaspoon each of ginger and turmeric, along with a dash of cinnamon and some honey.
I recommend you add a little black pepper to help your body absorb the turmeric.
Other anti-inflammatory drinks include green tea, which is packed with antioxidants.
Why wonky vegetables are better for reducing pain
Once a day, I also suggest you eat a small plate of crunchy raw vegetables like carrot, celery and bell pepper.
These are higher in phytochemicals than cooked veg, and have been linked to a decreased risk of chronic inflammatory disease, as well as improvements in rheumatoid arthritis.
Another veggie tip….
Try and buy the misshapen, wonky fruit and veg available now in many shops and supermarkets. Their unique shapes are often a result of fewer pesticides, which means they’re like a treasure chest of polyphenols including salicylic acid, a natural anti-inflammatory compound.
In other words, the next time you spot a carrot that looks like it’s doing yoga, snap it up. Your body will thank you for it!
Another type of veg to look out for is the sprout.
These babies might be small in size but they are colossal in impact.
Sprouting multiplies the nutrients, making them more bioavailable, and ramps up their enzyme content, which aids digestion and reduces inflammation.
At the same time as all of this, I recommend lowering your intake of refined grains.
But if you’re going to eat bread, then ancient grains are far better for you.
I’m talking about likes of rye, spelt, emmer wheat, bulger, millet, and buckwheat.
Rich in fibre, these grains help keep your blood sugar levels steady, suppressing those insulin spikes that can ignite inflammation.
Plus, their high-fibre content helps clear out toxins that could cause inflammation in your body.
So there you have it…
Embracing wonkiness, honouring the ancient, eating raw, and harnessing the power of sprouts could be your ultimate weapons in the war against pain!