Inflammation Fighting Foods

It seems that everywhere you turn, there is another report about the negative effects of inflammation on the body.   While some inflammation is a source of healing following injury, chronic inflammation can begin to attack healthy cells and lead to a number of autoimmune diseases.  It may even contribute to heart disease, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases.

A number of diets claim to help to reduce inflammation, easing symptoms of arthritis and offering protection against disease as we age.   More research is still needed but there is some evidence that diets rich is healthy fats, berries, leafy greens and whole grains can help reduce inflammation.  Herbs and spices can also add inflammation-suppressing antioxidants to a healthy diet.

Turmeric, a herb commonly used to flavor and give color to Indian food is a relative of ginger and has a slightly bitter, sharp taste.  The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin which has antioxidant properties suggested to provide cancer-fighting protection.  Researchers are also looking into the benefits of turmeric to prevent neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis but more study is needed for conclusive evidence.

In the meantime, it probably won’t hurt to try including the herb in your diet, but talk with your doctor first about dosage and possible drug interactions.  Large doses of turmeric supplements can cause stomach upset and because it acts as a blood thinner, should be stopped two weeks before any surgery.  According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, turmeric can also strengthen the effects of blood thinning drugs, increasing the risk of bleeding.  It may also interfere with drugs that reduce stomach acid and diabetes medications, raising the risk for low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

If your doctor and pharmacist give the go-ahead to add turmeric to your diet, here’s a recipe to try:

Golden Milk Latte


  • 1 cup of cashew milk (ideally homemade)
  • 1 tbsp of freshly grated turmeric root, or 1 tsp of ground
  • 1 tbsp of freshly grated ginger root, or 1 tsp of ground
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • Sweetener of choice (try Manuka honey)
  • A pinch of pepper

1. In a small pot on the stove, gently heat cashew milk over low heat.
2. Whisk in turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon until frothy, adding sweetener to taste.
3. Pour in your favorite mug and sprinkle with ground pepper.


To better understand chronic inflammation’s effects, visit the Mayo Clinic Health Letter by following this link.