When you think about dieting for weight loss and better health, what comes to mind? Eating fewer calories? Getting more exercise? Swapping out cheeseburgers for grilled chicken and asparagus? Snacking on portion-controlled, individually packaged cookies instead of the whole sleeve?
Along the winding path to slimming down and “getting healthy”, we tend to totally overlook one crucial factor (and then we're baffled when our methods don't work). Yes, I'm talking about eating more plant-based foods, but not just any.
It's anti-inflammatory foods that hold the most transformative power for your weight, health, and appearance. All fresh, unprocessed, whole foods will fight inflammation, but some are more potent than others. Certain raw foods are especially rich in antioxidants, minerals, and essential fatty acids- exactly what your inflammatory system needs to function the way it’s supposed to.
What's the Big Deal with Inflammation?
Your body is always striving to maintain a healthy internal balance (a.k.a. homeostasis) as it responds to its ever-changing environment. Inflammation is the body’s natural healing response to anything that disrupts this delicate equilibrium. By default, the inflammatory response is not a bad thing, but if it’s not kept in check, it will eventually wreak havoc on your body.
The Curse of Chronic Inflammation
Lingering inflammation occurs when the internal conditions of your body are thrown too far off balance. Key factors that sabotage the healthy homeostatic balance of your body include a nutrient-deficient/overly acidic diet, excessive alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, and chemicals (like the ones found in unnatural beauty products, for example). Without intervention, chronic inflammation can lead to much more significant health issues.
It’s common to just pop an Advil to cope with the everyday aches and pains that are caused by excess inflammation in the body. However, because of their synthetic ingredients, over-the-counter pills merely mask the symptoms of inflammation while actually making it worse in the body. The best way to cope is to take preventative measures.
Keep in mind: the inflammatory response doesn’t just cause physical discomfort (sometimes it doesn’t cause any discomfort at all!), it’s also a major reason why so many of us struggle with weight maintenance. Left untreated, chronic inflammation affects your body’s ability to regulate appetite and metabolism. As a result, losing weight becomes way more challenging than it should be.
That’s not to mention the countless other ways that chronic inflammation is a detriment to your health and appearance. From skin issues like acne and eczema, to everyday aches like joint pain and arthritis, to digestive problems like uncomfortable bloating and IBS, you can blame an excess of inflammation for your complaints (not to mention difficulty paying attention, migraines, depression, and more life-threatening conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer when left untreated).
Fighting inflammation is essential if you want to achieve your ideal weight and maintain it, look your best, and improve your health on every level. If you fill your diet with an assortment of inflammation-fighting foods on a regular basis, you’ll defend your body against weight gain, disease, and degeneration. You’ll slow the effects of aging physically, cognitively, and cosmetically.
These 5 Superfoods will help you knock out the root of the problem. Make Superfood smoothies a part of your daily routine and boost your body’s ability to easily lose weight. Plus they're a great way to make your results last after a juice cleanse!
5 Inflammation-Fighting Superfoods:
1. LEAFY GREENS
Green leafy vegetables are an extremely rich source of vitamins & minerals. They accommodate the human body's nutritional needs more completely than any other food! Extremely rich in a variety of anti-inflammatory nutrients, these foods are an excellent defense against the detrimental effects of chronic inflammation.
Eating lots of chlorophyll-rich cruciferous green vegetables is an excellent way to protect your body’s cells from free radical damage. In order to prevent your inflammatory system from being compromised by an overabundance of toxic free radicals in the body, your diet needs to include an adequate dose of antioxidants. Leafy greens dose you with powerful antioxidants like vitamin C, beta-carotene, and lutein that restore healthy cellular function. Among other benefits, this antioxidant surge helps give your skin a radiant glow.
Leafy greens are also highly alkalizing. The pH of your body can fall anywhere from alkaline to neutral to acidic. Ideally, you want to be slightly alkaline. When your body is alkaline, it is impossible for chronic inflammation to thrive. As a result, you don't have to worry about your weight- it melts off and stays off.
Another awesome anti-inflammatory benefit of leafy greens is that they considerably diminish your cravings for junk food. Why does that help reduce inflammation? Sweets and salty junk foods are some of the most offensive dietary culprits that load up your body with toxicity. This toxic build-up triggers and worsens inflammation.
These are a few of the most nutritious leafy green vegetables out there:
- Collard greens
- Swiss chard
- Mustard greens
- Bok choy
The best way to maximize nutrient absorption is to drink your greens. However, when you blend up leafy greens to make smoothies, they don’t always have the most pleasant consistency. Instead, try using your favorite Raw Generation green juice as a smoothie starter. Make this anti-inflammatory green smoothie recipe at home with your blender (all of the ingredients have been shown to help fight inflammation!):
Tropi-Kale Green Smoothie
- 1 bottle Raw Generation Energy & Endurance juice
- ¼ an avocado
- ½ cup pineapple, fresh or frozen
- ½ cup mango, fresh or frozen
- 2 tsp. ginger
Turmeric is a potent spice that gives curry its yellow color. It is THE most effective anti-inflammatory food, offering amazing medicinal properties and antioxidant effects. Indian cuisine has a long history of utilizing turmeric as an ingredient. Fascinatingly, despite higher rates of carcinogenic pollution, India (which also has a long history of using turmeric for medical purposes) has substantially lower rates of cancer and other illnesses rooted in chronic inflammation.
The primary compound in turmeric, an antioxidant phytochemical called curcumin, has a stronger efficacy when it comes to relieving painful symptoms of inflammation than common over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen and aspirin. These painkillers actually make inflammation worse because of their synthetic ingredients. Curcumin prevents cell death, and as a result, helps to thwart both visible signs of aging as well as painful physical afflictions associated with aging like joint degeneration and arthritis.
One of the reasons that turmeric is so good for your health is the way that curcumin targets particular molecules that inflict damage on the body. For example, curcumin helps to turn off a protein in the body that triggers the process of inflammation called NF-kappa B. It also suppresses the activity of certain harmful molecular factors that promote cancer, wreak havoc on joints, and destroy tissues of the body.
Some other anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric:
- Faster wound healing
- Fights acne, eczema, and psoriasis
- Blood purification
- Improves digestion
- Prevents wrinkles
- Cures coughs & colds
- Relieves asthma symptoms
Pairing turmeric with black pepper enables your body to more readily absorb curcumin into the bloodstream (it increases absorption by a whopping 2,000 percent!). Turmeric will also have a stronger effect in the body if you pair it with coconut oil as well as foods that contain the antioxidant plant pigment quercetin such as berries, dark leafy greens, and apples. Try making this savory-spicy, metabolism-boosting smoothie at home!
Savory Turmeric Smoothie
- 1 ½ cups plant-based milk (try using a bottle of our Vibrance & Vitality hemp milk)
- ½ cup pineapple, mango, or papaya (or any of these in combination)
- 1 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil
- ½ Tbsp. raw honey or pure maple syrup
- ½ tsp. turmeric (use powder or fresh, finely grated)
- ½ tsp. ginger (use powder or fresh, finely grated)
- ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- (Optional: for a creamier smoothie) ¼ an avocado
3. NUTS & SEEDS
Raw nuts and seeds are a great source of inflammation-fighting essential fatty acids including omega 3’s and monounsaturated fats. These healthy fats are necessary for healthy cell growth, nutrient absorption, and healthy hormone production (all factors which help keep inflammation at bay). Nuts and seeds also provide antioxidants which both fight and repair the damage that inflammation causes. Eat them regularly and see an improvement in the appearance of your hair, skin, and nails. Some of the most optimal choices are:
- Hemp seeds
- Flax seeds
- Chia seeds
Our Satisfy & Sustain cashew milk is a great base for making Superfood smoothies. Make your smoothies creamier by adding cashews that have been soaked in water for a couple of hours. You can also make your own homemade cashew milk by blending soaked cashews with water using a 4:1 water to cashew ratio.
Peaches & Cashew Cream Smoothie
- 1 bottle Satisfy & Sustain cashew milk (or 1 ½ cups other plant-based milk)
- 1 cup frozen peaches
- ½ a banana, ripe
- 1 Tbsp. raw cashews, soaked & drained
- (Optional) 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
All fresh fruits will help fight inflammation. However, berries have exceptionally potent anti-inflammatory properties. This is because of their rich abundance of anthocyanins- antioxidant pigments that give them their vibrant red, blue, or purple color. Blueberries in particular offer powerful protection against inflammation. They are an especially rich source of quercetin, a powerful antioxidant pigment.
Quercetin protects your body’s cells from membrane damage and death, helping to defend against aging and a variety of other health issues like cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. By inhibiting the inflammatory molecules that cause neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson’s, and strokes, quercetin prevents AND reverses cognitive decline. As a result, blueberries have been demonstrated to improve memory and motor function.This incredible antioxidant pigment also causes fat cells to self-destruct and stops new fat cells from forming!
Very Berry Smoothie
- 1 ½ cups plant-based milk
- 2 cups berries of your choice, frozen
- 1 banana
Matcha green tea contains 137 times more antioxidants than regular green tea! Unlike coffee, energizing matcha tea is a natural caffeine source that is highly alkalizing. Alkaline-forming foods/beverages help to balance the body’s pH level. The better your pH (you want to be neutral to slightly alkaline), the less inflammation is able to thrive in your body. Alkaline pH = clearer skin, more energy, and faster weight loss!
This ancient Eastern ceremonial tea doses you with catechin polyphenols like metabolism-boosting, cell-repairing EGCG. Catechin polyphenols are powerful antioxidant compounds that protect the body's tissues from oxidative stress and inflammation, offering an awesome defense against disease and signs of aging. You’ll get a rich dose of skin-beautifying, anti-aging antioxidants that will help fight acne, reverse sun damage, and reduce scarring/skin redness.
Energizing Matcha Green Smoothie
- 1 bottle Energy & Endurance or Refresh & Revitalize juice
- 2 tsp. matcha green tea powder
- 1 pear, cored
- ½ an avocado
- fresh squeezed juice from ½ a lime
- 1 tsp. ginger
Written by Nicole Neuhaus