If you’ve overdone it at the gym (or at work…or in the garden) it’s easy enough to take the edge off with a couple of ibuprofen to fight soreness and inflammation. For those of us in the habit of overdoing it on a regular basis, synthetic anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) can overtax your liver and result in a number of nasty side effects.
For the same pain-relieving effect naturally, try incorporating these food-based anti-inflammatory agents into your diet on a regular basis. Science has shown that these natural food-based medicines work just as well (if not better) than ibuprofen for pain and inflammation. If you have a particularly rough workout, they’re also available in concentrated form as supplements.
Studies have shown that the omega-3 healthy fats found in fish, specifically fish oil from fatty cold-water fish such as salmon, are some of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory foods available. Compounds in fish oil block your body’s inflammatory pathways. This can prevent minor injuries as well as chronic problems from becoming painful inflammatory conditions.
Recommended therapeutic dosages can be as low as 1500 mg, and a single 3 oz portion of coho salmon can have as much as 1800 mg, making it very easy to take your medicine in food form rather than resorting to supplements. Still, if you’re not fond of fish or just don’t want to eat it often, fish oil supplements can be a convenient alternative.
While hard-boiled eggs are often consumed as a quick protein boost, if you’re not careful when peeling them you may miss out on the best part. The inner membrane of eggs, which lies between the shell and the actual hard-boiled egg, has been shown to dramatically reduce joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation.
Egg membranes contain high levels of collagen, glucosamine and beneficial amino acids that help promote all-around health, especially for your joints.
When peeling hard-boiled eggs, be sure to extract out the inner membrane before composting the shell. The membranes from just a few eggs a day can have a big impact on soreness and inflammation. If your avoiding eggs for any reason, natural eggshell membrane is also available in a supplement.
Another easy way to let food be your medicine, green tea is a powerful anti-inflammatory. As an added bonus, it’s also been shown to inhibit collagen degeneration in joint cartilage and promote heart health.
Therapeutic doses are between 3-4 cups per day, which is easy to accomplish if it becomes part of your normal daily routine. If you’re avoiding caffeine or simply don’t like the taste, green tea extract supplements are also widely available.
Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapples, is a powerful system-wide anti-inflammatory agent. It’s not yet understood why it works, but research has shown that the enzyme bromelain is not broken down by the digestive tract, but is instead absorbed whole into the body where it reduces inflammation and promotes healing.
Every part of the pineapple contains bromelain, but the most concentrated amounts are found in the juice of the stem. The stem is a bit too fibrous to enjoy on its own, but running the stem through a masticating juicer yields great results. If you’re looking for a simpler no-fuss method, it’s also available as a supplement.
A primary ingredient in traditional curries and Indian cooking, turmeric contains curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory substance. Research has shown that a single 2000 mg curcumin supplement per day is as effective as 800 mg of ibuprofen in fighting pain and inflammation.
Over the long term, incorporating turmeric into your cooking can have compounding system-wide effects, lowering inflammation throughout the body and improving your ability to bounce back from injury. A single tablespoon of dried turmeric contains about 140mg of curcumin, so you’d need to eat quite a bit of turmeric to see ibuprofen-like effects to fight acute pain. For acute pain, try 2000mg of curcumin in supplement form.
Capsaicin, the active constituent of chili peppers that gives them their spicy taste, is also a natural medicine that is well known for its pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties. Used topically, capsaicin creams can provide significant and long-term pain relief by blocking pain receptors in your nerve endings.
It can also be eaten directly to combat inflammation throughout the body. Chili peppers are roughly 12% capsaicin, so it doesn’t take much to get a therapeutic dose. If you’re not fond of spicy foods, try it in supplement form for the same effect.