Today’s modern diet is unfortunately full of unhealthy traps. We have sneaky sugar, low-quality carbohydrates, too many animal products, and common encounters with heavily processed foods to blame for this. To combat these risks to our health, we will discuss the enormous beneficial uses of turmeric, ginger, and other natural foods.
What do all these unhealthy foods have in common? They each cause inflammation (chronic inflammation, to be specific). But we’re lucky to have the uses of turmeric, ginger, and other natural foods or herbs in the diet to stop inflammation!
In countries and regions where these foods and seasonings are everyday culinary spices (especially in Eastern parts of the world), it is notable how different average health and longevity is compared to the Western diet, which can lack these powerful healing plant foods. As part of a plant based whole food diet also, these herbal roots are famous for their inflammation-fighting properties— inflammation that can even shave some years off your life!
That’s right: eating plant-based and inflammation reducing foods, plus anti inflammatory natural supplements, can help you get healthier. Studies suggest they could even help you live longer— if you keep it up.
Chronic inflammation causing foods
What is chronic inflammation? What causes it, and what kind of health problems does it eventually lead to in turn? But most importantly: can something like an anti-inflammatory “meal plan” or adding more anti-inflammatory foods to your diet really make a difference?
You’ve more than likely experienced acute inflammation: what happens when you have a swollen cut, when your skin gets burned, or when you pull a muscle. The chronic inflammatory response is a little different. It is subtle, low-grade, and happens in tissues all over the body. It’s less a response to wounding and more to things like pathogens, allergens, viruses, and (you guessed it) poor quality foods, sugars, and more entering and “stressing out” your system. (Especially your immune system!)
Chronic inflammation could also be called “oxidation.” Simply put, this inflammation can simply be part of the natural process of aging, when cells begin to degenerate and get weaker all their own. This explains why we have more aches, pains, and health problems as we get older.
Some issues related to chronic inflammation may include:
- Allergies (seasonal, pet, etc.)
- Arthritis or bursitis
- Autoimmune conditions
- Gut disorders (like colitis or IBS)
- Neurological disorders (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc.)
- Skin issues (e.g. eczema)
- …and more
While not all chronic inflammation issues are caused by food and diet (some are genetic), here are some of the top inflammation causing foods:
- Excessive dairy or animal products
- Processed foods
- Trans fats
- Gluten (in some people)
- Simple carbohydrates
Inflammation fighting foods
In other words: what is anti-inflammatory food? When it’s suspected that chronic inflammation could be diet-caused, something like an anti-inflammatory meal plan or diet could bring the body back into balance. In some instances, with support or recommendation from a doctor or nutritionist, it could help clear up symptoms and even whole conditions all together.
The best inflammation fighting foods are plant-based foods (hands down). These include fruits, vegetables, healthy nuts, seeds, mushrooms, whole grains, and more— and, of course, healing herbs that have also been used as anti-inflammatory natural foods for thousands of years (including turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and others).
What makes these foods good for inflammation? It’s all thanks to the combination of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healing phytochemicals, and fiber that are unique to plant foods and instrumental to curbing inflammation in peoples’ diets.
Of all these, ginger and turmeric benefits for inflammation are hard to beat! They’ve been well-researched and used for thousands of years for these symptoms, and are very widely cultivated and consumed.
Anti-inflammatory list of foods (and herbs):
- Holy basil
- King trumpet mushrooms
- Lion’s mane
- Nuts (walnuts, butternut, chestnut, etc.)
- Sea vegetables (nori, kelp, etc.)
- Shiitake mushrooms
This list of anti-inflammatory food is by no means exhaustive! There are plenty more out there.
Why turmeric is good for you
Some could say turmeric is the posterchild herb for supporting inflammation. Its bright orange rhizome with cheery yellow pigment is rich in curcumin compounds, potent antioxidants that fight free radicals and chronic inflammation, both of which can lead to other health issues.
Turmeric is not just well known for supporting arthritis or achy joints. Turmeric effects—when eaten as a culinary food— can also help restore and balance digestive function harmed by inflammation. Topical use of the root may also be used for inflammation from back pain, and turmeric for joint pain is a common use, too.
Uses of turmeric as food and for health are many! You can put turmeric in smoothies or other anti-inflammatory drinks such as pressed juices or teas. You can of course use turmeric as the culinary spice for which it is so widely enjoyed, such as in curries, stir-fries, sauces, and more.
Turmeric is good for:
- Joint pain
- Arthritis (osteo and rheumatoid)
- Digestive inflammation
- Topical pain use
- Reducing overall chronic inflammation
- …and more
How ginger is good for you
A close relative of turmeric, ginger (also called ginger root) has a similar fantastic reputation for helping inflammation. In its specific case, ginger contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. Some of these are responsible for ginger’s sharp, spicy, and pungent culinary flavor!
Where anti-inflammatory turmeric is a powerhouse for joint and arthritic inflammation, ginger lends its talents to helping digestive and respiratory inflammation. If you’ve never enjoyed ginger tea while experiencing cold or flu, chewed on a bit of root for motion sickness, or felt your sinuses clearing when eating it as a rich culinary seasoning…then you’re really missing out on its benefits!
Ginger is good for:
- Upper respiratory symptoms
- Sinus congestion or inflammation
- Sore throat
- Coughs, colds, and flus
- Nausea or motion sickness
- Improving digestion
- Soothing stomachaches and cramps
- …and more
As a side note: both ginger and turmeric benefits can include subtle support for anxiety and depression, which to some extent can be triggered by inflammation. Ginger for mental health, and turmeric for depression, currently are (or have been) the subject of some scientific studies.
Is cinnamon good for you?
You can’t underestimate the incredible powers and flavors of cinnamon, another warming anti-inflammatory natural healer. Wish to boost your heart health? Cardiovascular wellness may be vulnerable to chronic inflammation, but an herbal food spice like cinnamon makes for an excellent anti-inflammatory natural supplement— even one of many fantastic anti-inflammatory essential oils!
Cinnamon is good for:
- Fighting inflammation in the heart and blood vessels
- Boosting digestive function
- Improving blood sugars and metabolism
- Reducing risk of type 2 diabetes
- Fighting coughs, colds, fevers, flus
- …and more
Benefits of holy basil
Anti-inflammatory herbs like turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon are very common, and no doubt you’ve heard of them (and tasted them!). Holy basil, on the other hand, is something a little different…but just as special, since it works as a whole body inflammation-protecting adaptogenic herb (especially for the nervous system).
Holy basil still has lots in common with the more ordinary culinary herbs turmeric and ginger, which are also of Eastern and Asian origin. At one time (and in some regions still today) the mint-like plant was consumed as a tea on a daily basis to stave off chronic inflammation, reduce stress and depression, and boost longevity.
Tapping into anti-inflammatory foods and herbs can be a powerful way to both protect and sustain your health. In regions where plant based diets are predominant, such as in eastern Asia, the results are noticeable: people tend to live longer, healthier lives eating these foods. Spices like turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and holy basil are integral in these diets, and support against inflammation that affects the heart, digestion, joints, respiratory system, and even mental health. What’s not to love? There’s definitely nothing to lose!
How do you work these nutrients into your daily diet? Let us know. We would love to hear from you. COMMENT BELOW!