Inflammation is the body's way of naturally protecting itself. It's actually a general term for multiple reactions that are involved in actions such as healing a wound or fighting an infection. We usually can recognize it by its obvious signs - pain, swelling, heat, fever, and redness.
Sometimes, however, inflammation doesn't come with those tell-tale signs. Instead, it presents itself in a lower intensity, sub-clinical, "under the radar" form that isn't as easily detectable.
Since this low-grade inflammation is chronic (or on-going), it can become a disease promoter instead of a disease fighter. It can interfere with proper healing of body tissues and even damage healthy cells in any part of the body. For this reason, excessive inflammation is a hallmark sign of many medical conditions, such as:
- Alzheimer's disease
- Autoimmune disorders
- Chronic pain
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
... and more.
Our lifestyle choices can have a huge impact on inflammation. Sleep quality, whether or not we smoke, stress, alcohol intake, physical activity levels, weight status, and the foods we eat can all influence the degree of inflammation in our body. In fact, even a single high-fat or high-sugar meal can spike inflammation.
Research on the potential of different foods to suppress inflammation is constantly growing. Lately, one particular dietary component that has received a lot of attention from researchers is spices.
Interestingly, one research study noted that cancer rates in countries where spices are consumed daily (such as India) are much lower (94/100,000) than countries where spices are not consumed daily (such as USA - 318/100,000).
Researchers at Penn State found that when participants ate a meal high in saturated fat and carbohydrates (a potential inflammatory bomb!) combined with a culinary blend of spices, participants had a lower post-meal inflammatory response.
These results were seen with at least 6 grams (about 1-3 teaspoons) of the following blend of spices: basil, bay leaf, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, ginger, oregano, parsley, red pepper, rosemary, thyme, and turmeric.
Why not make your own equal-parts blend of these 13 herbs and spices and use them to marinate or season your favorite chicken, lamb, beef, or seafood dishes.
Oh, E. S., Petersen, K. S., Kris-Etherton, P. M., & Rogers, C. J. (2020). Spices in a High-Saturated-Fat, High-Carbohydrate Meal Reduce Postprandial Proinflammatory Cytokine Secretion in Men with Overweight or Obesity: A 3-Period, Crossover, Randomized Controlled Trial. The Journal of nutrition, 150(6), 1600–1609. https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxaa063
Kunnumakkara, A. B., Sailo, B. L., Banik, K., Harsha, C., Prasad, S., Gupta, S. C., Bharti, A. C., & Aggarwal, B. B. (2018). Chronic diseases, inflammation, and spices: how are they linked?. Journal of translational medicine, 16(1), 14. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12967-018-1381-2
Maturitas. 2012 Mar;71(3):227-39. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2011.12.009.