Reducing inflammation can be a challenge. It’s a commonly known fact that most musculoskeletal pain is made worse by inflammation. Inflammatory fluid contains chemical mediators which amplify pain signals to the brain. This amplified pain sensation serves as a natural protective mechanism to prevent us from making things worse. In chronic conditions such as degenerative arthritis, combatting the effects of repeated or frequent inflammation is an ongoing problem. Typically, inflammatory pain is treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Ibuprofen and Naproxen. Every year we spend millions of pounds in over the counter brands like Nurofen, Advil and Asprin.
These drugs are systemic, which means that after we’ve taken them they are absorbed and affect the whole body and not just the parts that hurt. In addition their pain relieving effects are only short term and last only a few hours before we need to take more. There are anti-inflammatory gels and rubs on the market that are intended for use on localised areas of pain and although these may be better, most of the product remains on the surface of the skin with relatively little being absorbed through the epidermal layer.
While NSAIDs do provide pain relief to many, these drugs can have serious effects on the gastrointestinal tract, liver, kidneys and heart if taken too often. Taking NSAIDs on a daily basis for pain or inflammation can increase the risk for high blood pressure, ulcers, kidney failure, heart failure, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and they should not be taken if you already have a heart condition.
Food types for reducing inflammation
There are however, naturally occurring foods for reducing inflammation which are not only good at relieving pain but are also very nutritious. Incorporated into food and diet they make a very healthy alternative to chemical based systemic drugs. Listed below are the best known foods for naturally reducing inflammation for you to consider and try.
Turmeric is a brilliant yellow spice common in Indian cuisine that you can find in any grocery store. Turmeric has been used as a medicine for centuries to treat wounds, infections, colds, and liver disease. The constituent curcumin is one of the reasons why it is so effective in reducing pain and inflammation. Curcumin has potent anti-inflammatory effects, especially for acute inflammation. One of the ways it reduces inflammation is through its ability to block a molecule called NF-KB which travels into the nuclei of cells and turns on genes that promote inflammation.
Ginger has been used for thousands of years as a traditional medicine to treat stomach upset, headaches, and infections. It can be easily found in the grocery store and is a very powerful anti-inflammatory herb. It inhibits the pro-inflammatory pathways whilst promoting the anti-inflammatory pathways and provides the body with a high volume of anti-oxidants. It also inhibits platelet aggregation which promotes good blood circulation and speeds up healing time. Ginger is easy to add into your daily regime, you can eat it, juice it, cook with it or take it in a capsule. Taking or eating ginger daily can also improve your digestion and overall wellbeing.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Any green leafy vegetables like broccoli, kale and celery are rich in antioxidants that restore cellular health, as well as anti-inflammatory flavonoids. If you struggle to consume added portions of green leafy vegetables try combining them in a blender with lemon, apple and some of the other anti-inflammatory fruits listed below for an inflammation busting smoothie.
One antioxidant in particular stands out as an especially strong anti-inflammatory, and that’s quercetin. Found in citrus, olive oil and dark-coloured berries, quercetin is a flavonoid that fights inflammation. The presence of quercetin is one of the health benefits of blueberries. Consuming blueberries is also believed to slow cognitive decline and improve memory and motor function.
Usually, when it’s packaged in supplement form, quercetin is often paired with bromelain, a digestive enzyme found in pineapple. After being used for years as part of an anti-inflammatory foods protocol, bromelain is observed to help regulate the immune response that creates unwanted and unnecessary inflammation. Pineapple also helps improve heart health because bromelain also lowers the risk of thrombosis and heart attack. Bromelain has been shown to stop blood platelets from sticking together or building up along the walls of blood vessels; both known causes of heart attacks or strokes.
If you currently have muscle and joint pain you can use our pain assessment tool to find a likely cause of you pain and get expert treatment advice.