Fight Inflammation with These Vegetables
If you suffer from any kind of chronic inflammatory pain, you probably know that consuming vegetables is very beneficial to alleviate your pain. This isn’t a problem if you’re someone who enjoys consuming them. But if you only eat vegetables grimly because you have to, what can you do to get the most out of your daily portions?
• Pile on the Purple
The answer lies in selective eating. Start with purple vegetables (and fruit). They are loaded with antioxidants. We all know about antioxidants (friend) and free radicals (foe). Though free radicals serve an advantageous function in the body, when too many of them show up, they gang up against your nerves.
Our bodies have built-in protection, but a mob of free radicals can attack the protective covering of our nerves, leaving them vulnerable to damage and inflammation. The antioxidants in purple fruits and vegetables take down free radicals, thereby shielding your nerves and saving you from excruciating neuropathic pain.
So when cooking your meals, put some purple on your plate. The spectrum of shades in this context is broad, ranging from blueberries to pomegranates. Included in this spectrum are red cabbage, purple spinach, red lettuce, purple carrots, black grapes, and purple sweet potato.
A notable exception is an eggplant. While beautifully purple and shiny, eggplant falls into the nightshade category, which includes chili peppers, potatoes (but not sweet potatoes) and tomatoes. For people with autoimmune diseases, especially those related to inflammatory joint pain, eggplant is best avoided.
• Gear Up with Greens
This was inevitable, and you knew it. Again, it has to do with smart eating. Which greens make the grade? Forget the usual pale lettuce you find in salads; it will do nothing to prevent the pain of inflammation.
What you want to do is focus on cruciferous vegetables, many of which we already eat. If you love your salads, swap out the washed-out lettuce for rocket (arugula) leaves. Not only are they far more flavorful; they come with a chunk of good health.
Cruciferous vegetables are particularly useful for you if you suffer from prolonged, regular bouts of joint inflammation. The range is extensive, which means that there’s something for everyone. Enjoy Asian cooking? Break out the bok choy, choy sum and gai lan (also known as Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale) if it’s Japanese cuisine that holds your taste-buds captive, load on the wasabi.
A point to note: for reasons of cost, many Japanese restaurants serve colored horseradish instead of real wasabi, which is very expensive. For healthy eating, this doesn’t matter as horseradish is just as good for you.
The green leafies and other cruciferous vegetables contain the compound sulforaphane. Studies have shown that this compound can block certain enzymes which attack joint cartilage. Keeping these enzymes at bay means preventing disproportionate deterioration and consequent inflammation.
Apart from the vegetables mentioned above, cruciferous vegetables include watercress, broccoli, collards, kale, and yes — the dreaded Brussels sprouts. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it’s a good start.
Eating your vegetables may be a pain, but it isn’t a fraction of the pain lies in wait if you allow inflammation an easy way in. Do make them a part of your daily diet.
The above is not a substitute for medical advice from a physician. Before you embark on any lifestyle or dietary change, be sure to consult your doctor.