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Meals That Reduce Inflammation
by Julie Daniluk, RHN

Regardless of the signal our body sends us, inflammation is the ultimate consequence of an allergic reaction.

Every human will experience the pain of inflammation at some time in his or her life, so this book is for everyone. Inflammation is an immune response to injury, toxins, allergy, or infection, and causes pain, redness, heat, and swelling in the affected area. Since more than 70 percent of our immune system cells are found along the lining of our digestive tract, your immune response is hugely affected by the foods that interact with your gut.

Do you consistently get a stomachache after eating your favorite ice cream? Has your doctor diagnosed you with “runner’s knee” even though you’ve never run past the corner store? If this sounds like you, you’re part of a growing population that struggles with chronic pain long before old age. It’s strange that North Americans over the age of thirty have started to accept pain as part of the aging process. With one in five people suffering from arthritis in Canada and the United States, fighting joint pain has become a top health care priority.

Food allergies, which are often a root cause of pain, are also becoming increasingly common across North America because many foods are heavily processed, and we don’t have enough variety in our diet. We often choose the same popular menu items like wheat cereal for breakfast, wheat-bread sandwich for lunch, and wheat pasta for dinner. As a result, our immune system overreacts and we suffer the painful symptoms of allergies. Diagnosing a food allergy isn’t always easy; symptoms can be diverse. Regardless of the signal our body sends us, inflammation is the ultimate consequence of an allergic reaction.

There are two basic types of pain: acute and chronic. Acute pain comes on quickly (for example, twisting an ankle), and lasts a relatively short period of time. The swelling, redness, heat, and inflamed nerve endings set off an alarm bell, warning the rest of the body that something is wrong. In this instance, inflammation serves a purpose and is a natural and necessary part of the healing process. However, when acute pain is not properly treated, it can develop into chronic pain (which stems from chronic inflammation).

Chronic pain occurs when an initial pain response won’t go away, and the body continues to overreact long after the initial cause of pain has passed. Sadly, our views on chronic pain are all wrong. Chronic pain and discomfort should be rare at any age, and in each case it should be promptly addressed. Around the world, people who eat unprocessed nutritious foods all their lives remain limber and agile well into their senior years. Indigenous communities that have not adopted the processed foods prevalent in Western societies remain free from epidemics such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and other inflammatory conditions. It’s high time we consider reducing inflammation. The ability to heal is within all of us. In some ways, it’s unfortunate that there are powerful analgesics (such as pharmaceutical painkillers) that effectively switch off the pain signal—after all, pain is supposed to warn you that something is wrong. Such medications allow you to continue functioning but prevent you from being able to keep in touch with your body’s messages. If you can’t feel pain, it will become more difficult to get to the root of your initial discomfort, and you won’t know whether your body is healing properly. Have you ever seen the commercial where a woman injures her knee and, instead of resting, she runs up a hill while saying, “I don’t let pain slow me down; I take [insert drug name] so I can continue with life”? Think about this for a second: if you ignore an injury and circumvent the pain response, you’re working outside your natural limits. As a result, you could be on a path to more serious injury, or your current injury may eventually lead to chronic pain.

Although injuries and sore joints are hard to ignore, less severe symptoms of inflammation generally don’t attract your attention in the same way. Symptoms such as indigestion after meals, bleeding gums, or a patch of eczema that won’t clear up (despite using lots of anti-inflammatory creams) are easy to ignore for a long time. If left unchecked, these annoying little symptoms can lead to chronic inflammation and lifelong pain. In order to heal your pain, you need to understand how chronic inflammation occurs. The MTHI plan will teach you how to give your body the foods it needs to repair itself. Inflammation plays a key role in the development of seemingly unrelated illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes, depression, eczema, psoriasis, and dementia. Conversely, as already mentioned, inflammation is also the natural result of the body’s response to injury or infection, and it stimulates the healing process. Unfortunately, this protective response of the immune system, if prolonged, can result in damage to the body’s organs. The World Health Organization reports that cardiovascular diseases, most of which are rooted in chronic inflammation, are the top causes of deaths internationally, and that “at least 80 percent of premature deaths from cardiovascular heart disease and strokes could be prevented through a healthy diet, regular physical activity and avoiding the use of tobacco.”

Chronic inflammation can be extremely serious, but it can also be silent enough to ignore until it’s too late. What’s the safest way to prevent the process of painful inflammation? The answer is to avoid problem foods and consume specific foods that contain powerful phytonutrients including antioxidants, which can quell the inflammatory fire in the digestive tract, joints, heart, and skin. Phytonutrients are compounds found in plants that aren’t classified as either vitamins or minerals and that aren’t required for normal functioning of the human body, but that have a beneficial effect on health (the prefix “phyto” is derived from the Greek word for “plant”).

A Tale of Two Curries
3 cups (750 mL) chopped onions (about 3 medium bulbs)
1 tbsp (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped garlic
2.2 lb (1 kg) chicken thighs, skinned OR three 14 oz (400 mL) cans
black beans
3 cups (750 mL) carrots, sliced into coins
2 cups (500 mL) chopped kale
1 tbsp (15 mL) minced ginger root
1 tbsp (15 mL) turmeric
1/2 tbsp (7.5 mL) cinnamon
1/2 tbsp (7.5 mL) ground coriander
1 tsp (5 mL) gray sea salt or pink rock salt
2 cups (500 mL) chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 lemon or 1 medium lime, zested and juiced
2 cups (500 mL) cauliflower or broccoli, cut into 2-inch (5 cm) pieces
1/2 cup (125 mL) coconut milk
1/4 cup (60 mL) tahini

1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, sauté the onions in the oil over medium-low heat until soft, about 7 minutes. Spritz liberally with filtered water or broth to ensure the oil doesn’t overheat.
2. Add the garlic and sauté a few minutes more, being careful not to brown or burn it. Keep it gently toasted and golden. Then add chicken and brown for 5 minutes.
3. Add carrots, kale, spices, salt, and stock and gently simmer over low heat for 20 to 25 minutes.
4. Add the broccoli or cauliflower and lemon or lime zest and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are al dente. If you prefer a tangy curry, add more citrus zest.
5. Stir in the lemon or lime juice, coconut milk, and tahini and mix thoroughly.
Note: If you’re short on time, you can skip browning the chicken, or consider investing in a slow cooker. Just wait to add the coconut milk until right at the end, mixing it in just before you serve it.

Shepherd’s Pie
2 cups (500 mL) skinned and diced celery root
2 cups (500 mL) diced Jerusalem artichokes
2 cups (500 mL) skinned and diced turnip
2 tbsp (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil (plus 2 tbsp/30 mL if making
lentil version)
1 lb (450 g) ground bison or turkey OR 2 cups (500 mL) cooked
2 cups (500 mL) chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp (5 mL) cumin
1 tsp (5 mL) gray sea salt or pink rock salt
3 tbsp (45 mL) Italian herb blend (basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary,
sage, savory, and/or thyme)
1 cup (250 mL) chopped carrots
1 cup (250 mL) diced sweet potato or yam
1 cup (250 mL) chopped celery
1 cup (250 mL) sweet peas
2 cups (500 mL) chopped fresh spinach
1/2 cup (125 mL) kasha (toasted buckwheat)
1/4 cup (60 mL) fresh sage OR 1 tsp (5 mL) dry sage

1. Boil celery root, Jerusalem artichoke, and turnip in 3 cups (750 mL) of water until soft. Drain and mash with 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil. Set aside.
2. Brown the meat in a large pot over medium-low heat with onion, garlic, cumin seed, salt, and herbs. (If making the lentil version, heat 2 tbsp/30 mL olive oil over medium-low heat with onion, garlic, cumin seed, salt, and herbs before adding the lentils.) Spritz liberally with filtered water or broth to ensure the oil doesn’t overheat.
3. Add the carrots, sweet potato or yam, celery, peas, spinach, kasha, and sage. If cooking the lentil version, add 3/4 cup (185 mL) of vegetable broth. Stir well and cook for 8 minutes.
4. Transfer to a 9 x 13–inch (20 cm x 30 cm) baking dish. Top with the mashed white root vegetables.
5. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 20 minutes. Move to the top rack position and broil on low for 5 minutes or until nicely browned.
7.Serve hot or allow to set in the fridge overnight.

Excerpted with permission from Meals that Heal Inflammation by Julie Daniluk, R.H.N. published by Hay House.
Available at all bookstores or online at: www.hayhouse.com

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