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  • Writer's pictureRayne Roberts

Reduce Inflammation with Food

Updated: May 20, 2022

One in three of us live with chronic pain, likely to be back pain, headaches or joint pain (NHS, 2019). The body always responds to injuries with a predictable inflammatory response - it's the first step towards healing. Redness, heat, swelling and pain are associated with this event and it's entirely normal, even helpful, in stimulating the immune system and activating the healing process.

It's longer term inflammation - more than a week or so or where healing isn't progressing - where problems can arise. Your body's inflammatory response can eventually start damaging healthy cells, tissues, and organs.

So tackling systemic inflammation can not only help reduce symptoms but is beneficial to your long term health. This is particularly useful if GP or pharmacy visits result in repeated recommendations for NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen which can damage the stomach lining or Paracetamol which taxes the liver and does not reduce inflammation.

Whether you have a long-term inflammatory condition (think carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive strain injury (RSI), tendonitis such as tennis or golfer's elbow or arthritis) or you're simply looking to reduce the risk of inflammation, there are some key pointers in terms of foods. Remember, you could look for a good quality multi vitamin/mineral complex if your diet is poor and/or restricted but the body uses these compounds most effectively from good old fashioned food.

  • Insufficient vitamin B6 is recognised as being key in inflammatory diseases. Regularly eat (i.e. daily) plenty of bananas, brown rice, carrots, walnuts, avocado and legumes such as lentils.

  • Phytochemicals are well researched - Pineapple (particularly the core) ginger and turmeric (preferably organic for a higher amount of active ingredients) are proven anti-inflammatory agents which use the same pathways as Ibuprofen. For a quickfire dose of their nutrients you can juice them together during a flare up. Use inch-sized pieces of ginger and turmeric roots in your juicer along with half a pineapple. Consider a teaspoon of organic turmeric powder in your food or drink daily.

  • Reduce your consumption of intensively reared meat, fish and poultry - wild, grassfed or organic products have a higher proportion of the anti inflammatory fatty acid, Omega 3 which again works along the same pathways as Ibuprofen.

  • Avoid ready meals and takeaways which can have a high level of inflammatory Omega 6 ingredients such as corn, safflower, sunflower and grapeseed, peanut, and vegetable oils.

  • Increasing your oily fish intake to 2 x 140g portions a week is a key way to increase the amount of Omega 3 your body can access. Go for the best quality salmon, mackerel, sardines and herrings you can buy. See this recipe for our anti inflammatory Mackerel Pate.

  • Eating a wide range of colourful vegetables and fruits each day reduces inflammation. In fact, purple, orange or yellow potatoes may reduce inflammation and its subsequent damage to your DNA - the recipe books that allow your cells to be replicated every second - due to their high levels of antioxidants.

  • Add 2 tbsp chia seeds or flaxseeds to yogurt, porridge or smoothies every day - or have some walnuts each day for their Omega 3 content.

  • If you've taken painkillers for some time, help your liver to excrete the unwanted leftovers with at least one portion of lightly steamed broccoli, cauliflower, kale or brussel sprouts each day.

  • Avoid table salt which can exacerbate swelling and has been shown in those with arthritis in knees.

  • Liberally use other anti-inflammatory culinary herbs and spices like cinnamon, cloves and rosemary.

Whilst the evidence is very mixed, you could avoid nightshades (peppers, aubergines, chillies, tomatoes, white potatoes) for a month to see if they are trigger foods for you. Some people with rheumatoid arthritis have found this beneficial although the scientific jury is still out.

Try this Green Smoothie recipe which is high in anti-oxidants and has plenty of anti-inflammatory properties from spinach and ginger. Additionally the spinach, chia seeds and coconut water provide a good helping of electrolytes which will stop muscles cramping up and causing more pain.

Green Smoothie (Serves 1)

  • 2 good handfuls of washed raw spinach

  • 1 handful of fresh pineapple chunks or half 400g tin of pineapple chunks in juice

  • 2 inches of ginger, peeled and very finely sliced

  • 2 tbsp. chia seeds

  • 250ml of coconut water or water


  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend to desired consistency (adding more fluid to taste)

  2. Serve and enjoy!

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