Anti-Inflammatory Foods: Because Lymphatic Vitality Matters

Anti-inflammatory foods celebrate a way of life that boosts lymphatic flow and kickstarts your immunity. And food is so much more than its component nutrients! Food is an experience, an act of self-care, and one of our vital sources of energy. Much the way a poem is infinitely more than its constituent letters and punctuation, food nourishes our physical, emotional, and soul selves in ways we don’t always appreciate. 

Food is so much more than its component nutrients!

Inflammation, too, offers healing in unexpected ways.

In its acute stage, inflammation is a healing response that is vitally important to our well-being. The body’s localized immune reaction to tissue injury is to send inflammatory cells from the circulation, kickstarting a cascade of reparative processes. It is the action of proinflammatory mediators that recruits critical immune-supporting macrophages, leukocytes, and mast cells.

But not all foods, or all kinds of inflammation, are created equal. 

When food no longer nourishes:

  • Some foods seem to have inherently pathological inflammatory properties. 
  • Other foods present unique inflammatory triggers to specific individuals. 
  • And too much of almost any food seems to irritate the immune system. 

When inflammation gets in the way:

  • Inflammation can appear as a purely disruptive state, as experienced in some autoimmune disorders and in lymphedema. 
  • Some people’s immune systems seem to have less capacity for even short bouts of acute inflammation. 
  • And too much inflammation for too long creates a pathological state in any body.

The scientific research can be controversial regarding what constitutes an anti-inflammatory food or an anti-inflammatory diet.

It’s complicated.

What we know about anti-inflammatory foods:

  • It’s complicated: Nutrients can interact synergistically; meaning, together they are so much more than they are alone. They can also interact antagonistically, actually disrupting each other’s beneficial effects. 
  • It’s complicated: Age, genetics, and environment can all play a role in whether a food or nutrient is pro- or anti-inflammatory.
  • It’s complicated: How we prepare a food can alter its anti-inflammatory capabilities: high heat, deep frying, steaming, raw, etc. Storage and preservation, too: pickling, drying, flash freezing, jarring, canning, the use of leftovers, etc.
  • It’s complicated: Even the manner in which we take in our nutrition can affect how we metabolize and digest it. Whether we are eating on the run, in the car, during times of stress, grief, joy, peace, alone or with others can determine if what we ingest supports or undermines our immune function.

The following principles of anti-inflammatory nourishment are a wonderful guide. As with any skillful guide, the information is not a substitute for your own discerning wisdom or the advice of your medical team, but a complement to it. 

Anti-inflammatory foods: Eat the rainbow.

The Principles of Anti-inflammatory Nutrition:

  • Strive to incorporate these potentially anti-inflammatory food categories:
    • Eat the rainbow of fruits and veggies! The deep orange, yellow, red, dark green, blue and purple foods
    • The whole grains buckwheat, millet, quinoa and brown rice
    • Plant-based proteins, including dried beans, legumes and soy
    • Nuts and seeds 
    • Spices and herbs (particularly ginger, garlic, turmeric, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon and rosemary)
    • Beverages such as water, herbal and green teas, and coffee
  • Strive to avoid or limit these potentially inflammatory food categories:
    • Red meat and processed meats like deli meats, hot dogs, sausages 
    • Dairy products
    • Refined sugar and artificial sweeteners
    • Refined carbs like white bread, pasta, and pastries
    • Alcohol
    • Trans fats found in shortening, microwave popcorn, packaged pastries/muffins/cookies/crackers
    • Wheat and gluten 
  • Reduce or eliminate your use of these cooking and preserving methods:
    • Processed and packaged foods
    • Deep frying (donuts, french fries, chips)

Create an anti-inflammatory ambience when you cook and eat.

  • Stress and inflammation typically coexist, and studies show causal links.
    • Take a few extra moments. Mindfully stage a nourishing environment for your anti-inflammatory snack or feast. This is a gift to you and your immune system!
    • Play music you love. Stimulating get-up-and-dance tracks can be fun while preparing your food, and possibly a more soothing track for while you eat.
    • Tie an apron on. This act can serve as a mindfulness ritual: a moment to pause and reflect on the blessing of nourishment before you cook and prepare food.
    • Make it a celebration. Flowers, napkins, candles, a table and chairs, or a colorful picnic blanket set on the ground all announce the essential quality of this ritual: it is a celebration of life and the art of living in flow!

Try this nourishing anti-inflammatory smoothie for delicious and nutritious flow.

3/4 Cup frozen raspberries (or blueberries or strawberries)
3/4 Cup frozen cherries
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 Cup frozen cauliflower
1 Tbsp nut or seed butter (tahini or almond are my favorites)
1 Tbsp ground flax seed or chia seeds
1 generous handful greens (spinach is mild in flavor)
Leaves of 1-2 sprigs fresh mint
3/4 Cup oat or nut milk, unsweetened
1/2-3/4 Cup water
2-5 ice cubes depending on how thick you like your smoothie

Place everything in a blender and blend to desired consistency. Recommended order of ingredients for easiest blending: liquid, then greens, then ice, then nut butter, then flax or chia, then all frozen fruits and cauliflower.

Further Food for Anti-Inflammatory Thought:  

  • Lymph & Longevity: The Untapped Secret to Health, Gerald M. Lemole, MD
  • The Hot Belly Diet: A 30-Day Ayurvedic Plan to Reset Your Metabolism, Lose Weight, and Restore Your Body’s Natural Balance to Heal Itself, Dr. Suhas G. Kshirsagar
  • The Book of Lymph: Self-Care Practice to Enhance Immunity, Health, and Beauty, Lisa Levitt Gainsley, CLT
  • Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Diet: Role in Healthy Aging, NIH National Library of Medicine,

Concerns and Questions:

After going through this guide to anti-inflammatory foods for flow–if you have questions or concerns about your vital flow you’d like support with–please schedule a Vital Lymph Solutions Call with me.

This call is for you if you know you want to feel better and wonder what that could look like.

The Vital Lymph Solutions Call: In this 30-minute call we will assess your biggest healing challenge together and lay out a plan for you to shift and solve that issue. You will walk away from this call with at least one strategy that you can begin to implement immediately to feel better. If it’s a fit to do more work together, I will let you know what that would look like. And if there’s someone else I can recommend that would be a better match, I will get you that referral.

It really IS possible to unblock your vital flow, no matter what your experience or diagnosis, and live the life you love. 

Disclaimer – This blog is for general information purposes only. Furthermore, the information contained in this blog is not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult your licensed healthcare professional for advice on your specific condition.

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