There are a number of diseases that plague the over-60s — from arthritis and diabetes to heart disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
It seems that at the root of such diseases, inflammation is a common element, and if you can address the inflammation with non-inflammatory foods you might then alleviate the symptoms of the disease.
According to Dr Josh Axe, a certified nutrition specialist and expert in natural medicine, when your body is ill or injured, your immune system gets into action. You might notice some swelling, redness or heat and even pain or discomfort in the area and it’s your body’s way of trying to heal you from the inside.
However, it’s not always effective and his suggestion is a gradual shift in diet towards foods that will impact the way inflammation affects your body and your life.
What foods are anti-inflammatory?
When it comes to fighting inflammation, Dr Axe recommends you look at the produce in your refrigerator. If you don’t have lots of fruits and green leafy vegetables you’re missing out on essential antioxidants that restore cellular health and anti-inflammatory flavonoids.
Bok choy (aka Chinese cabbage) is also an excellent source of antioxidant vitamins and minerals. You don’t have to be a lover of Chinese cuisine to enjoy bok choy in your diet, which makes this a go-to inflammatory food.
Don’t worry if you don’t like bok choy though because you can get antioxidant and anti-inflammatory assistance from celery. Celery seeds have impressive health benefits, lowering inflammation and fighting bacterial infections. In addition to being a solid source of potassium, celery can help improve your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
One antioxidant that stands out as a strong anti-inflammatory is ‘quercetin’. You’ll find it in citrus, olive oil and dark coloured berries, such as blueberries. According to some studies, eating blueberries can slow your cognitive decline and improve your memory and motor function.
Bromelain is a digestive enzyme often paired with quercetin and you’ll find it in pineapple. It has been found to help regulate your immune response so that unwanted and unnecessary inflammation is not created. Pineapple can improve your heart health because of the bromelain, which fights blood clotting and is apparently a more natural option to taking an aspirin every day to lower the risk of heart attack.
Pineapple also has a high supply of vitamin C, vitamin B1, potassium and manganese.
One of the most potent anti-inflammatory substances is omega-3, and you’ll find salmon is one of the best food sources, whilst also being packed full of essential fatty acids.
Read more: Recipes for one — salmon and quinoa salad
Omega-3s have been found to reduce inflammation and may help lower your risk of heart disease, cancer and arthritis. They’re also important for brain memory and performance, as well as behavioural function.
If you’re following a diet without a lot of meat, nuts and seeds can make up the different for protein and omega-3s. Walnuts can be added to your green leafy salads and with a drizzle of olive oil you have a delicious anti-inflammatory meal. A simpler option would be to grab a handful and eat them when you’re on the go.
Flaxseeds are also an excellent source of omega-3s and are packed with antioxidants. The other benefit of flaxseeds is that it has been tied to anti-ageing, hormone balance and cellular health. You might also find that adding flaxseeds to your diet might help remove yeast and candida from your body.
Dr Axe recommends grinding them to ensure the digestive tract has easy access to the seeds’ many benefits.
Turmeric has a strong reputation for being effective in the fight against inflammation. It all has something to do with the compound ‘curcumin’. If you suffer rheumatoid arthritis you’ll find turmeric is highly effective in helping you manage the condition.
Read more: Golden anti-inflammatory tea
To use Dr Axe’s words, the poster vegetable for healthy eating, broccoli is a valuable addition to your diet, especially if you’re looking for an anti-inflammatory diet. High in potassium and magnesium, broccoli has potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Fresh, dried or in supplement form, ginger is also good for your immune system and helps to reduce inflammation. It’s believed that ginger is super effective at warming your body, which makes it pretty nifty at breaking down toxins in your organs. It’s also known to cleanse the lymphatic system, which is your body’s sewerage system in case you didn’t know.
If you suffer from leaky gut syndrome, your doctor might recommend you up your intake of bone broth. It’s said that minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulphur and others are all contained in the broth and are easily absorbed. Such minerals can help fight the inflammation and alleviate symptoms associated with arthritis and joint pain.