We talk a lot about inflammation when it come to most modern day ailments. From back pain and arthritis to cancer, heart disease and even diabetes, inflammation is the common link. So it is only natural that we should strive for an anti-inflammatory life, right?
Inflammation does have its uses – after all its how our body triggers the repair response. But when inflammation lasts for longer than necessary, leading to ongoing pain, that’s when the anti-inflammatories come in useful. Pharmaceutical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, have been linked not with stomach, liver and kidney issues, and may even impair fertility if taken for ten days. They are actually with delayed healing of muscle, tendon and bone injuries. Instead, I like to recommend adding two of my favourite anti-inflammatory allies, ginger and turmeric, into your daily routine
Ginger has been shown to be as effective as NSAID’s when it comes to relieving pain and inflammation and can actually ease stomach upset (instead of causing it!)
Here are a few ways I like to use it:
- I start every day with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, with the juice of freshly grated ginger (about a teaspoon). It will wake you right up!
- In winter, I love to add freshly squeezed ginger juice (grate about ½ inch of ginger and manually squeeze out the juice) to vegetable soups, especially those with carrots or butternut squash as a base. In summer I make ginger lemonade. Simply combine freshly squeezed ginger, lemon juice to sparkling water.
- Cooking with rice? Try topping with ginger, sesame seeds and dried seaweed (I love either dulse or nori) on top.
- Combine ginger, tamari, olive oil and cashew butter to dress your salad greens
- Add grated ginger to your baked apples, top off with some Greek yoghurt
- Steamed/roasted vegetables (especially carrots!) topped with a teaspoon of good butter or coconut oil and some freshly juiced ginger
Turmeric is my other favourite anti-inflammatory. It feels like a week doesn’t go by where I don’t come across another research papaer looking at the anti-inflammatory and even anti-cancer properties of this golden spice. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which doesn’t have great bioavailability by itself. But adding freshly ground black pepper and a healthy fat, like coconut oil (also anti-inflammatory!) boosts our bodies ability to absorb and use it. I like to make a turmeric paste (nicknamed the ‘Golden Wonder’!) . I can then add a teaspoon or two to smoothies, soups, stews or salad dressings.
Here’s how I like to make it:
- ½ cup of organic turmeric root powder
- 1 cup of water (may need more)
- 1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper (fresh is always best because of the piperine levels)
- ¼ cup organic cold pressed virgin coconut oil (you can also use olive oil)
Mix the turmeric root powder with the cup of water in a pot (add a little more water if needed)
Stir the mixture on a very low heat and in about 5 minutes, it will form a thick paste.
Once turned into a paste, add the freshly ground black pepper and coconut oil and mix well
Let it cool in a mason jar and store it in your fridge. The paste should last for about 2 weeks.
Of course it goes without saying that when in pain, you should have a conversation with your health care provider before self medicating. But the beauty of using food as medicine is that people have been using ginger and turmeric in their food for thousands of years, particularly in India. Maybe Hippocrates was right: ‘Let your Food be your Medicine, and your Medicine be your Food’