Anti-inflammatory foods are foods that help to manage or reduce the rate of inflammation in the body. Inflammation, by itself, is not a bad thing. It is the body’s way of responding and protecting itself from infection, injury, or any kind of physical harm, including irritation. What happens here is that the body releases white blood cells and immune cells to combat the harm. Under normal cases, inflammation lasts until the harm has been healed or neutralized. But sometimes, the inflammation would continue to happen, leading to other problems. This is a condition known as chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation can increase the risk of diseases like diabetes, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, and so on.
While there are medications you can use to suppress inflammation and bring it under control, you can choose to handle it naturally by eating the right thing. That is why in today’s post, we would be looking at foods that can be used to manage inflammation in Nigeria.
1. African Pear (Ube)
African pears also known as ube in Nigeria is an excellent source of flavonoid antioxidants, that can help fight inflammation and may decrease your risk of disease. They are also loaded with several vitamins and minerals, such as copper and vitamins C and K, which also fight inflammation. According to some medical studies, pears have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Utazi (Gongronema latifolium) is a shrub which leaves are used for culinary purposes. Utazi leaves are used to spice local Nigerian delicacies, and prepare Utazi soup (Ofe utazi). Utazi has properties that could help to treat and reduce inflammation in people. It is often used in herbal medicine for the treatment of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions in the body. A 2002 study conducted on rats suggested that utazi might combat with inflammation.
Soursop is a tropical fruit with thick prickly flesh and sweet taste. In Nigeria, it is called “shawa chop”, and is mostly eaten raw. Medical research have shown that soursop extract has potent properties that are effective for reducing swelling, pain, and other symptoms associated with inflammation.
There is more to pepper than its spiciness. Peppers are very healthy as they are packed with loads of nutrients, including vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that has some effects on inflammation. Some peppers, like bell pepper and ata rodo, which we have here in Nigeria, are also rich in quercetin, which is another kind of antioxidant that may help manage inflammation linked with diseases like diabetes.
Avocados are one very healthy fruit. It is rich in a lot of nutrients, including potassium, magnesium, and monosaturated fats, which makes it very good for the heart. It is also rich in polyphenols, which functions as an antioxidant. There are so many other health benefits of avocado for men, and women.
We use tomatoes to do a lot of cooking here in Nigeria and there are many reasons why we like using them. But what we may not know is that tomatoes are bursting with nutrients, including lycopene, which is an antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory properties. Including tomatoes and onions, together with pepper, in your regular diet would do your body a lot of good.
Carrots are another healthy food we should be eating a lot of. The distinct orange colour of carrot comes from beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant. When it gets into the body, it is converted to vitamin A. It is also rich in other antioxidants like zeaxanthin and lutein. These antioxidants would help prevent damage to the cells and help the body manage inflammation better.
8. Sweet Potatoes
Besides its sweet taste, sweet potato is one very healthy food that is rich in nutrients, including vitamin A, C, and K, and antioxidants like beta-carotene.
9. Fatty Fish
Some fish, especially those that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, can help the body manage inflammation. Examples of fish like this include salmon, sardine, tuna, and mackerel. Omega-3 contains eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which has been proven to help reduce inflammation.
10. Whole Grain
Whole grain is considered more healthy than regular or processed grain as they still have all parts intact. They are many healthy whole grain foods in Nigeria, such as brown rice, whole wheat, oatmeal, and so on. They are also very rich in fibre, which may help reduce inflammation. Whole grain like brown rice is also good for people with diabetes as they are gluten-free, and they are rich in antioxidants as well.
Chronic inflammation can lead to a lot of disease. Stress, poor physical activity, and eating unhealthy foods can increase the risk. However, studies suggest that some foods can help decrease chronic inflammation. Eating these anti-inflammatory foods in Nigeria can help boost your overall health and wellbeing.