Inflammation... what does that mean and can we do anything about it?
Inflammation is the body's mechanism to protect itself. It does this by removing anything harmful in your body while initiating the healing process. So why are so many people trying to get rid of it?
Initially inflammation can be very beneficial to the body in the short term, say when you wack your elbow or skin your knee. The tissue swells and the healing process starts all due to the mechanisms of inflammation. This is know as acute inflammation which is vital for our survival of physical injury, infections, or any immune responses.
When inflammation persists or serves no purpose, it damages the body and causes illness or what is known as chronic inflammation. This type of inflammation has been connected to chronic diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer, arthritis, cancer, heart disease and depression.
Certain lifestyle factors can promote inflammation, especially when they occur on a regular basis, such inactivity, high consumption of refined carbs, sugars, processed foods, meats and alcohol. Finding your way to a balanced diet that cuts out processed products and boosts your intake of whole, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich foods, is a key factor for combating chronic inflammation.
In my practice I use Dr Well's Anti-inflammatory Food Guide Pyramid, or what I call whole food eating. The basis of anti-inflammatory eating is plants. Within a matter of weeks, a plant-based diet can improve blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin levels, blood sugar and C-reactive protein levels, all markers of inflammation.
If plant based eating make your think bland based eating, I have got a recipe for you!
Savory Moroccan Stew combines my favorite anti-inflammatory ingredients into a perfect savory bite packed with flavor. The recipe features the major powerhouse spice of turmeric, along side ginger, garlic, chickpeas, lentils and veggies. Talk about a bite that packs a anti- inflammatory punch.
Benefits of Turmeric:
Turmeric comes from the Curcuma longa plant and it's active compound curcumin is known for it's healing properties which has put Turmeric on top, as one of the most medicinal herbs. The Journal Oncogene published the results of a study that evaluated several anti-inflammatory compounds and found that turmeric is among the most effective anti-inflammatory compounds in the world, out preforming aspirin and ibuprofen. If that is not convincing enough, here are a few more benefits of turmeric:
Has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
Increases the production of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) which low levels have been linked to Alzheimer diseases
High intake levels of turmeric have been linked with the reduction of various cancers
Treats symptoms of arthritis such as joint pain and swelling
Assist in alleviating the symptoms of depression
Consumption has been linked to a reduction in heart attacks
Savory Moroccan Stew is a quick and easy recipe that packs a punch of flavor while improving your health!
Savory Moroccan Stew
1 medium white onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ butternut squash, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, diced
3/4 cup red lentils (dry)
2 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
½ tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper
3 cups vegetable broth
(1) Prep and chop all ingredients.
(2) In a large pot, in olive oil cook onions, garlic until aromatic. Then celery, red peppers and carrots. Cook until soft and onions are translucent.
(3) Add spices: ginger, turmeric, cumin, and paprika.
(4) Add fresh tomatoes and canned crushed tomatoes. Cook for 2-3 minutes and stir.
(5) Add 3 cups vegetable broth, butternut squash and lentils and bring to a boil. Once brought to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cover. Let cook for 30-40 minutes. If you wish to thicken the stew even more, remove lid for the last 10-15 minutes. Finish the stew with the juice of 1 lemon.