6 Supplements that Fight Inflammation | Your Anti-Inflammatory Nutrition Protocol
The number of reactions occurring in the body on a daily basis is practically unquantifiable – with a rough average of nearly 100 trillion cells in our bodies and each cell producing 1 billion reactions each second, well you do the math! That’s a lot to deal with. So when you think about all the additional challenges we subject our bodies to – not enough sleep, poor quality food, alcohol, smoking, travel & stress – it’s pretty impressive that we manage to get by the way we do! But we don’t want you to just “get by”. We want you to look and feel your best! Just as we are focused on ensuring our clients get the right amount of food to fuel their bodies, we know that cultivating a healthy, internal environment in your body is also key.
Even if you consider yourself a healthy and active individual, inflammation effects everyone and tends to become harder to control the older we get. How quickly you recover from injuries and whether or not you catch that flu that’s going around depends on the health of your cardiovascular system. Whether you’re an athlete or not, balancing “good stress” from things like exercise, with active recovery and specific, high quality foods will help you get stronger, more robust and more resilient to things like your kids sniffles.
We all know that good nutrition habits and a disciplined exercise routine don’t happen without a schedule, so recovery certainly isn’t going to happen by accident. You have to hunt it down and have a plan of action! Here’s our protocol for reducing inflammation so that you can bounce back from whatever life throws at you.
1. Lay the Foundation with Nutrition
Keeping track of your macronutrients (and calories) is pivotal in ensuring many of your body’s key processes and systems are functioning optimally – things like an active, healthy metabolism, temperature & hormone regulation, digestion, immunity, brain function and mood to name just a few! Macronutrients are nutrients we need in abundance. They can’t be produced by the body on its own and so they must be consumed through diet. The three sources of macronutrients are protein, carbohydrates and fat. They are ALL of equal importance!
Despite the bad press carbohydrates are often subjected to, they are our bodies preferred energy source, providing fuel for working muscle and the central nervous system. Low-carb diets can be particularly detrimental for athletes and contribute to inflammation because it puts the body under stress to convert energy from the other sources of macronutrients. Carbohydrates prevent the body from utilizing protein as a source of energy and enable fat metabolism, which makes them vital in allowing protein and fats to be utilized appropriately – cellular repair, muscle growth and hormone regulation.
You can build a solid base with your nutrition and overall health by ensuring your body is getting the right amount of macronutrients in the correct proportions. For people looking to lose weight, a slight caloric deficit is acceptable, but for athletes it’s important to ensure that energy demands are being met and in the right balance.
Broadly speaking for a nutritious foundation we recommend the following:
- Lean protein at each meal – e.g; poultry, fish, egg whites, low-fat
cottage cheese & Greek yogurt etc.
- Plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables &
greens – color is usually
indicative of an abundance of vitamins, minerals & antioxidants.
- Slow digesting high fiber carbs – rice, quinoa, whole grains & legumes
- Healthy fats – nuts & seeds, nut butters, unprocessed oils, eggs and fatty fish
We strive to maintain an 80/20balance with our diets. What does that mean? Well, whilst always looking to meet the right amount of macronutrients every day, 80% of the time we do so consuming good quality, whole food sources. The other 20% of our diet we reserve for the foods we love! You know, the kind that typically aren’t so great for you – did someone say pizza party?! J The point is that pobody’s nerfect! Living life to its fullest for us means we get to enjoy donuts when we want to and not feel stressed that we’re falling off an unrealistic diet. This keeps us feeling “healthier” mentally and long-term keeps us coming back to all those good quality, nutritious foods.
For guidance on figuring out your total daily energy expenditure (a measure of how many calories you expend each day) and how to balance your macronutrients accordingly we can help you get started with a coaching plan or a simple to follow meal plan. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re not sure where to start!
2. Remove Stressors
There are many causes for inflammation in the body, but when it comes to nutrition there are some key food groups that you may want to consider eliminating from your diet, or in the very least keep to a minimum – reserve them for that 20% we were talking about, unless of course you have a diagnosed food allergy.
- Foods that you are sensitive or intolerant to – ideally these should be eliminated from your diet and alternatives found. Most common food allergies are usually connected with dairy, nuts, shellfish, wheat, gluten and soy. Food sensitives from certain carbohydrate sources known as FODMAPs also exist. A low FODMAP
diet may also be beneficial to those with gluten sensitivity.
- Processed sugar – proliferates the growth of pathogenic microorganisms in the gut like yeast and bad
- High fat foods – foods containing artificial trans fats and overconsumption of saturated fats found in animal products and dairy
- Alcohol – resveratrol in red wine is thought to reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) and is considered healthy in moderation but the health risks associated with most forms of alcohol do not seem to outweigh the benefits.
- Salty foods – processed meats and fast food
For the average person, this may be a little too much to ask. But if you’re a serious athlete or someone who suffers from an autoimmune disease, then managing your inflammation should be a priority. Go slowly and focus on reducing your overall consumption to start, setting yourself small goals and deadlines will help you to keep making progress in a manageable way.
We recommend our clients do their utmost to eat a varied diet to cover all bases – that doesn’t mean eating different foods every day, but changing up your fruit and vegetables on a weekly basis is a great way to add some variety. If you’re worried that your diet may not be providing you with adequate nutrition, then you may want to consider supplements for a short period. Rather than a blanket prescription, we would encourage you to have your bloodwork taken to find out exactly where your deficiencies lie. We use a service by InsideTracker that provides personalized and science-driven recommendations on diet and supplementation based on your bloodwork. Here’s a little more information from Jason on what you can expect from InsideTracker.
You can promote a healthier immune system and improve your body’s inflammatory response by consuming the following foods or the food’s compound In supplement form:
Natural Fragrant Foods
- Fresh herbs like basil, sage, oregano, parsley etc. Add these to your salads, shakes or use
them liberally as seasonings.
- Fresh ginger – tastes delicious in a banana and mango protein smoothie! Or grate some into
your next slawor turkey patty for more of an Asian flavor.
- Onions and garlic – check out our video on how to get your daily garlic in.
Consuming enough of these fragrant foods to make a real difference is hard work for most of us. We still encourage the use of fragrant foods whenever possible, however you can also supplement using the same active compounds from these foods.
The bioactive compound in Turmeric is a powerful phytonutrient called curcumin. Here are some known
benefits of curcumin:
- Anti-inflammatory – decreases muscle and joint stiffness
- Anti-oxidant – helps reduce free radicals
- Immune boosting – Antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties
- Lowers cholesterol – studies
have shown curcumin to reduce the risk of a heart attack by 65%
- Anticoagulant properties
- Lowers plasma triglycerides – indicated as a risk factor for cardio-vasculardisease
- Lowers blood sugar levels – curcumin capsuleshave been shown to delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes
- Lowers inflammatory proteins & prevents neurodegenerative disease
Curcumin is not well-absorbed on its own. When combined with ginger, black pepper & some fat, absorption has been shown to be enhanced.
If taking curcumin in supplement form, look for a high quality formula that also supports compounds like gingerol and piperine (the active compounds in ginger and black pepper).
If you’re injured, take double the recommended dose 2-3 times a day with food. If you’re not suffering from injury or sickness, take the recommended dose 1-2 times daily with food.
Ginger has been used in India and Southeast Asia as medicine for thousands of years. Ginger has potent anti-inflammatory properties and is available in medicinal strength. The bioactive compounds stimulate blood circulation opening up your sinuses and assisting with the removal of toxins from your tissues. Try infusing ginger with water and lemon for a cold refreshing drink or steep with hot water for tea.
Natural sources of anti-nauseants such as Gravol, are purified and contain pharmaceutical-grade ginger extract.
If you’re dealing with an injury or illness, take double the recommended dose 2-3 times daily with food.
Papain is an enzyme derived from the tropical fruit papaya and bromelain is an enzyme derived from pineapple. They are known as proteases, which are enzymes that break down proteins. Protease supplementation has been shown to improve muscularfunction after eccentric exercise providing effective muscular support for post-workout recovery.
For non-athletes, they can also act as an excellent, natural digestive aid. We typically suggest supplementation with a digestive enzyme to clients who are not used to consuming our recommended daily intake of protein – usually women and older clients struggle most with protein intake.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a sulfur compound found in brassicas like onions and garlic. Biologically active sulfur is one of the most critical nutrients for our bodies to remain youthful and energetic. As we age, our bodies become stiff, our cells become rigid, and our overall energy begins to rapidly decelerate. MSM has been shown to decrease inflammation, markers of muscle damage and joint pain as it improves muscle tissue flexibility and cell permeability.
A recommended dose to combat injury or reduce inflammation is 2000-4000 mg daily. For preventative supplementation take 1000-2000mg daily with food.
Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are the building blocks of many tissues and assist with tissue strength, viscoelasticity & integrity. GAGs are found in the make-up of synovial tissue and fluid – the stuff that stops our joints from sounding like a bowl of rice krispies!
The most abundant protein found in mammals is collagen, making up much of our connective tissues. In theory it stands that if you nourish these proteins then you improve your joint and connective tissue health. There are no current studies to confirm whether consumption of collagen in the form of bone broth affords you all the benefits claimed. However, research has shown collagen supplementation does improve skin elasticity and hydration.
More widely used and known for alleviating joint pain is glucosamine sulfate. It is considered safe to take as a supplement. If you’re dealing with an injury take 2000-3000 mg daily with food. For preventative measures, take 1000-1500 mg daily with food.
Fish oil contains two groups of omega-3 fatty acids known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Fish oil is recommended as a source of omega-3 fats because they are the cheapest and most common source and contain an abundance of DHA. DHA in particular is special because it is most readily used by the body for anti-inflammatory and nervous function purposes.
EPA & DHA help regulate things like cardiovascular function, nervous system function, brain development and immune health.
Both omega-3s and omega-6s are forms of polyunsaturated fats and we need them both. The body cannot synthesize them on its own, so we have to consume them in the form of food or supplements. Although we need them both, omega-6 fats are pro-inflammatory so it’s important that the right balance of omega-6 to omega-3s is achieved.
An ideal balance would be 1:1. Unfortunately, our modern, western diet causes a skewed ratio of anywhere between 12:1 and 25:1! A big reason for this skew is that our diets are largely made up of processed foods, which contain cheap, processed omega-6 oils.
To balance out this disproportionate ratio and reduce inflammation in the body, we can reduce the amount of omega-6 we consume by limiting processed foods. We can also increase the amount of omega-3s we consume by eating more fish, sea vegetables and /or taking a fish oil supplement.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a daily intake of a single 1000mg softgel providing between 1g-3g of EPA and DHA. According to the AHA this would satisfy the amount of omega-3s obtained from two servings of fish a week. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends an intake of 1-2 servings of fish per week also, providing between 200-500mg / week of DHA and EPA.
Athletes or anyone dealing with an injury can take 5-10g of EPA & DHA with food for 2-4 weeks.
Contra-indications for taking a fish-oil supplement
Although the dietary form of omega-3 is considered safe, it’s important to consider when it might not be appropriate to take omega-3 in supplement form:
– anyone with a fish/seafood allergy;
– if you’re taking anti-coagulant or “blood thinner” medication (such as Warfarin);
– anyone taking NSAIDs;
– if you have a scheduled surgery – due to the anti-coagulant effect;
– if you have a bleeding disorders;
– people with high cholesterol as it has been shown
to increase cholesterol levels.
Before changing your diet or considering adding supplements, we recommend you consult with your physician or have your blood tested by a service like InsideTracker. Blindly self-medicating is not encouraged as excess consumption of certain compounds may produce adverse side effects. Unnecessary supplementation is also very costly!
What are your thoughts on supplementation? Do you use any of the supplements we recommend and have you noticed a difference in your body? We’d love to hear about your experience!