The word “inflammation” comes from the Latin inflammo, meaning “I set alight,” or “I ignite.” And if you’ve ever experienced the redness and burning sensations that go with inflammation (and we all have at some point), it’s easy to see that this condition is aptly named.
Inflammation is what makes pain, well, painful. It’s not that your body has masochistic tendencies, though.
Inflammation happens when your immune system spots a problem, like an injury, damaged cells, foreign bacteria, or virus, and tries to destroy the problem-causing agent before it has a chance to cause more damage.
For more about the mechanisms that make inflammation work, check out this post.
Think of inflammation like a brushfire. Sometimes, controlled burns are necessary to get rid of old, dead material and provide nutrients that new life needs to grow. It’s part of the natural revitalization process. But sometimes, those fires can get out of control and end up causing damage to previously healthy areas.
Inflammation works a lot like that. It starts innocently enough, your body notices a problem and tries to take care of it. Most of the time, the fire of inflammation (and the pain that goes with it) burns out on its own. But sometimes, your immune system is either unable to take care of the problem on its own, or it starts to go wild – like an out-of-control brushfire – and spread. Causing burning pain and inflammation wherever it migrates to. If left unchecked, long-term inflammation can lead to a wide variety of health concerns and conditions, everything from asthma to arthritis, depending on where the inflammation is located.
So what do you do when something’s on fire? You call in the fire brigade, who will have tons of tools and substances designed to help put out fires. And that’s exactly what you do with painful inflammation. It takes more than a bucket or two of water to put out pain’s inflammation-induced fires.
Fortunately, there are plenty of natural painkillers and inflammation-fighters hiding in foods you may already have in your kitchen!
In my video, I talk about these foods to help fight inflammation as well as what might be causing inflammation and pain in the first place. As you know, I’m all about natural health supplements too, so I’ve got a perfect recommendation for you to help stop pain in it’s tracks and get to the root of your inflammation and pain so it never comes back!
Ginger fights pain and inflammation on two different fronts. It can stop inflammation before it ever starts by inhibiting the formation of inflammatory compounds in your body, and it has anti-inflammatory effects that can help reverse the inflammation process once it starts.
These anti-inflammatory compounds are called, aptly enough, gingerols.
Ginger’s no newcomer to the natural painkiller scene. It’s been mentioned in ancient Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern writings for its medicinal, as well as its culinary, benefits.
Studies have shown that people with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis have less pain and increased mobility when they consume ginger regularly.
My Iced Turmeric Ginger Latte is the perfect way to adapt the spicy heat of ginger to cooling summer beverages!
Pineapples are a super-rich source of vitamin C, which helps fight the free radical damage that contributes to the joint pain and disability that can accompany osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The stem and core of the pineapple fruit contain a complex mixture of substances known as bromelain.
Bromelain has been linked to reductions in excessive inflammation and excessive cogulation of the blood, and even reduced growth of certain types of tumors when taken as a dietary supplement.
Many fruits and veggies start to lose nutrients the moment you pick them, but not pineapple! If chilled, even cut fruit retains many of its nutrients for at least six days.
Neat pineapple factoid: a pineapple is not a single fruit, but a composite of many flowers whose individual fruitlets fuse together around a central core. Those little spiny “eyes” on the pineapple’s surface? Those are the individual fruitlets!
To add a taste of the tropics to your next BBQ, check out my recipe video for Juicy Chicken Burgers with Pineapple Salsa.
Salmon and Sardines
It’s the high concentration of anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fatty acids that make cold-water fatty fish like salmon and sardines effective pain-fighting foods.
Omega-3s may reduce risk of inflammatory-related chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.
You can also get omega-3s from plant sources, but cold-water fatty fish contains the EPA and DHA forms of omega-3s that are easiest for your body to use.
While you can get bioavailable omega-3s from a wide variety of fish, I suggest salmon and sardines because smaller fish like these have lower concentrations of toxins, like mercury, than larger fish like swordfish and tuna, and are easier to fish in sustainable ways.
Having enough anti-inflammatory omega-3s in your diet helps balance out the levels of pro-inflammatory omega-6 EFAs (which are found in more foods).
Make omega-3s the main course in this restaurant-worthy Baked Lemon-Pepper Salmon with “Cream” Sauce recipe from my Joyous Health book!
Garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants. We’ve been growing it for over 5,000 years!
Garlic is rich in sulfur-containing compounds that give it its distinctive smell, but also its health benefits.
These sulfur-containing compounds help protect you against both inflammation and oxidative stress.
Once you’ve chopped or crushed your garlic, let it sit for a few minutes before cooking or adding other ingredients. This will allow those sulfur-containing compounds to fully activate so they’re more effective!
For more on the health benefits of garlic, check out this post.
Pair garlic with wild mushrooms in this soup recipe to double up on the immune-boosting benefits!
Yes, the avocado is fatty, but it is mostly monounsaturated (healthy) fats. And remember, it’s not fat that makes you fat. Sugar does.
Avocado is a perfectly balanced food! it’s got healthy fat, fibre and protein!
Avocados even have a special type of fats (phytosterols) that provide important anti-inflammatory benefits to our body systems.
These phytosterols are anti-inflammatory, but avocados pack even more pain-fighting power in with other anti-inflammatory nutrients like carotenoids, catechins and procyanidins.
Avocado makes a wonderfully creamy base for dairy-free desserts like this Key Lime Avocado Tart.
Fortunately there are natural supplements made from whole foods that work extremely effectively at reducing pain.
The important thing to remember is that not all natural supplements are created equally. Ever heard of natural eggshell membrane? Sometimes referred to as NEM? Only Genuine Health products carry Biovaflex, a form of NEM.
What is BiovaFlex?
It is a natural health ingredient found in egg membrane that includes collagen, elastin, desmosine, isodesmosine, glucosamine and chondroitin. In a nutshell, it improves cartilage strength and elasticity helping to joints to be more mobile without pain.
For mild joint pain, I would recommend fast joint care+ which of course contains Biovaflex. And more severe pain and osteoarthiris, Genuine Health has fast arthritis relief+ which also contains Avovida (from avocados) and Bromelain (from pineapple) which are proven to increase that joint space while the BiovaFlex builds the cartilage back. They also have fast pain relief+ which is a great alternative to everyday pain medication and works in as little as two hours for headaches and cramps. All using whole food based ingredients!
You can learn more about these supplements I recommend for natural pain relief natural supplementation here.