In my previous blog post, Turmeric Is a Top Anti-Inflammatory, I mentioned briefly that anti-inflammatories keep our arteries young and less likely to clog, our skin from turning red or scaly, and our nasal passages from getting blocked. Now I want to go into more detail about why inflammation is bad for our health and how spices such as turmeric, garlic, ginger, chili pepper, cilantro, parsley, mustard, cinnamon, and mint are so good for aging gracefully.
There are plenty of pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories like aspirin, acetaminophen, and steroids (for example, hydrocortisone cream) that are designed to keep down swelling and reduce redness (also known as inflammation) that can occur in our bodies both externally and internally. Inflamed skin can be seen when we get a cut or a rash. In this situation the inflammation is our body’s natural way of helping to heal the wound by flooding the area with white blood cells and protein. The tell tale redness and swelling signifies that an immune response is in full throttle.
Inside the body, inflammation is an effect of many conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, hay fever (a histamine response causes inflammation of the nasal passages), and atherosclerosis (also known as the hardening of arteries). Inflammation inside the body can be very damaging if it continues over many months or years. According to Dr. Oz, “Inflammation, a process meant to heal, can often become a danger; chronic inflammation causes heart attacks, stroke – and even cancer.”
From Dr. Nicholas Perricone’s book, Forever Young, I learned that “the key to preventing accelerated aging and age-related diseases is controlling inflammation.” Of course I look to food to help fight inflammation before reaching for the medicine cabinet. I’m not the only one to do so. Noted Indian Ph.D., Bharat B. Aggarwal, wrote in his book Healing Spices about ways his native foods help heal the body: “Oxidation and inflammation are the evil twins that cause many chronic diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer and arthritis.” He mentions turmeric, ginger, and cardamom as anti-inflammatory spices.
Many other foods have anti-inflammatory properties. Fish, soybeans, and whole grains can help reduce swelling because they are laden with omega-3 fatty acids, which naturally reduce swelling and irritation inside our arteries. See the “Resveratrol Suppresses Inflammation” report on my website to see details about how resveratrol, a foodtrient found in red wine, cranberries, and grapes, reduces inflammation in the body, too.
In my cookbook, FoodTrients: Age-defying Recipes for a Sustainable Body, I have many recipes that incorporate anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric, garlic, ginger, cilantro, parsley, and mustard. I make an apple-pear tart using liberal amounts of the anti-inflammatory spice cinnamon. I created a non-alcoholic mojito drink because mint is also a wonderful way to reduce swelling. My Tangy Ginger Dressing recipe should whet your appetite for even more delicious ways to reduce inflammation through eating the right foodtrients.