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Anti inflammatory foods


I was lucky enough to speak to our team this week about anti inflammatory foods, and the growing body of evidence there is around these.

At the suggestion of Rob Russo, I created a quiz, that everyone then participated in, followed up by case studies. It generated some great discussion and questions!

Thanks to free digital photos for picture

Thanks to free digital photos for picture

So, what foods did we discuss? See a summary below:

Mediterranean diet – has been shown to have an excellent effect on reduction of the inflammatory bio-markers CRP, Il-6 and Il-1. This diet is based around fish, legumes, olive oil, vegetables and bread.

Legumes – shown to again positively effect inflammatory biomarkers, along with reduce weight and provide plant rather than animal based protein.

Sesame seeds – a recently released study indicated that these little seeds were able to slow cartilage degeneration, reduce oxidative stress, and improve inflammatory biomarkers. Very cool stuff for people with OA!

Turmeric – contains the substance curcumin, which is also found in ginger and cumin. A recent review found this little spice was able to effectively work as a TNF-alpha blocker, the same action of many of the drugs people are prescribed for inflammatory arthritis. Now this is definitely NOT a recommendation to stop your meds, but it may work well in conjunction with them.

Fish oil – The research behind these beauties is solid in relation to rheumatoid arthritis; 2.7g per day will reduce inflammation. Remember to aim for 2.7g of EPA and DHA, not just of ‘fish oil’.

This is such an exciting, and quickly growing area of science, that I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of. Food as medicine, or anti inflammatory foods – I love it!

Chloe McLeod is a dietitian at BJC Health.
This blog focuses on diet & nutrition generally and diet & nutrition in relation to the treatment of arthritis and arthritis-related diseases. Contact us if you’d like our help in managing diet-related health issues.

  • irwinlim

    Thanks for the great talk Chloe. I must admit not knowing the specifics even though I happily refer my patients to you as many want to take some control of their diet to improve the situation.

    You gave us a lot more insight. It’s a fascinating area and I look forward to a lot more posts about this.

    • No problem Irwin! I really enjoyed the session, and agree, it is an absolutely fascinating area to be working in!

  • Paul

    Thanks for the post. Seems I’m nutirionally-challenged again! I’ve been reticent about the whole fish oil thing, as much because of the murky idea of where fish oil comes from as anything else. Are there any particular sources/brands that seem really good to you or which you would recommend?
    Thanks Chloe!

    • Hi Paul,
      Most definitely not nutritionally challenged, a really great question! Not all brands are created equal, and people will often not be consuming enough, especially when it comes to dosage for anti-inflammatory conditions. Secondly, I agree, it is important to use a trusted brand that uses quality product with anything, supplements included.
      The brands I usually recommend when it comes to fish oil are Ethical Nutrients High Strength Fish Oil, Bioceuticals Ultra Clean EPA/DHA plus or Melrose High Strength Fish Oil.
      Of course, consuming fish which is rich in omega 3’s is also important, however to acheive the 2.7g required per day, for people with inflammatory arthritis, they will need a supplement to reach this quantity.

      • Paul

        Thanks Chloe! Those sound good.

  • KennyH

    Couple of questions re fish oil, hope you don’t mind me asking. We seem to have two types here {Scotland). Omega 3 which is marketed as a brain/heart supplement. Cod Liver Oil marketed as joint care. You may see the reason for my uncertainty. Which is the right kind for arthritis? { I seem to have PsA and, the Dr suggests, what he refers to as Inflammatory Osteo Arthritis – a bit of a coverall diagnosis that one in my opinion.)
    I have to admit I don’t enjoy eating fish, ironic especially as I enjoy fly fishing and ( when I am able with the aches and pains ) catch a lot of trout. I put them back most of the time as I just don’t like it. I do have a bit tinned salmon usually weekly and tuna ( not sure if that’s beneficial). I also take 1000mg Cod liver oil capsule daily. I used to alternate day aboutvwith the omega 3 capsule.
    Finally there was a widely reported study over here this year that high Omega 3 intake was responsible for a high increase in Prostate cancer in men. By high intake I think it was meaning daily supplementation and eating a lot of fish. All counter to what we are usually told. While it didn’t result in immediate warnings from the health authorities they didn’t try to deny it either. I think the term is, ” needs more work”. Any opinion?

    • Hi Kenny,
      Thanks very much for your excellent questions! Definitely don’t mind you asking!
      Cod liver oil and fish oil (and krill oil for that matter) are all very similar, as they all actually contain omega 3s. Cod liver differs in that the oil is only coming from the liver of the cod, which is a type of fish, krill oil is only coming from the krill, another type of fish. Fish oil is usually a blend from different types of fish.
      As I said, the key similarity is that they all contain omega 3s, specifically, EPA and DHA’s. These long chain fatty acids are the ones which work to reduce inflammation.
      I recommend people use fish oil for arthritis, because this is the type that the clinical trials have used. In relation to quantity, it depends on the amount of EPA and DHA’s in the capsule- you should be aiming for a combined total of 2.7g (2700mg) per day for use in inflammatory arthritis.
      Hopefully taking in these quantities will help reduce the pain so you can enjoy your fishing, regardless of throwing them back!
      In relation to prostate cancer, I have read that study as well. The overall conclusion (as with many studies), was as you said, more research is required. I understand this is very frustrating for someone who is being told to have such high doses, thus it is up to you how you want to handle the situation, and great that you are informed. If you do choose to include the supplements, I would recommend ensuring you also get regular prostate checks.
      I hope this answers all your questions, and please do not hesitate to ask any further ones!

  • Herman

    HI Chloe, can I re-ignite your post? I thought cod liver oil often has a lot of vitamin A and I have heard people get liver toxicity from too much cod liver oil. Is this true?

    • Of course! It depends which studies you read! Some say it is great due to the level of vitamin D, however others state that if you have vitamin D deficiency and take it, without enough D to correct the deficiency, this is when toxicity of vitamin A can arise. As a safe bet, and also because of the research for inflammatory conditions has used it, I recommend people use a high strength fish oil.