Much like clothing trends that oscillate throughout the year, so too follows the types of food we have access to and the dishes we gravitate more towards, especially in the northerly clines where cold and snow are commonplace during winter.
In winter, we generally have more access to root vegetables and tend to desire meals that provide warmth and comfort. However, sometimes the foods befitting this criteria are not always the healthiest selections. Food is essential to health and vitality and can even impact the development and management of chronic disease and inflammation.
Let us delve into some tips and delicious winter anti-inflammatory recipes to incorporate into your diet for better health.
Inflammation and disease
Inflammation is an imperative component to injury and healing, and its elicitation and progression is ubiquitous regardless of the underlying cause. However, when inflammation becomes chronic in nature, the inflammatory proteins, immune cells, and chemical mediators of inflammation begin to:
- cause pain
- loss or impairment of normal physiological functioning
- structural reformation of tissues such fibrosis and degeneration of articular joint tissues in arthritic conditions.
Chronic inflammation underpins and exacerbates numerous disease processes including:
- cardiovascular disease
- peripheral artery disease
- diabetes mellitus
- neurodegenerative diseases
- kidney disease
- allergies and joint diseases or arthritis
Chronic inflammation can be precipitated by poor diet, smoking and exposure to pollutants, alcohol abuse, chronic stress, chronic infections such as HIV and hepatitis B, as well as age.
In the case of this later inflammatory condition of arthritis, it can have numerous causes and are broken down into several types.
- Infectious or septic arthritis
- Autoimmune (psoriasis, lupus and rheumatoid etc.)
- Metabolic (gout)
Joint inflammation, pain, reduced mobility, edema and destruction of the articular cartilage, connective tissues and bone at these articulating joint interfaces, characterize arthritis in general. Maintaining a healthy weight, incorporating low impact exercise into one’s daily routine, treating the underlying cause, taking anti-inflammatory medications, and following a healthy anti-inflammatory diet, (as will be elucidated here), can help with symptom relief and in treating the condition. Furthermore, considering taking joint supplements to rebuild joint tissues such as chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine, collagen and hyaluronic acid, may be indicated.
The supplement JointFuel360, contains a special blend of ingredients, including collagen type 2 fibers and hyaluronic acid in this formulation, in addition to anti-inflammatory components such as boswellia serrata, resveratrol, turmeric and black pepper for enhanced absorption of the curcuminoids in turmeric.
The anti-inflammatory diet mirrors that of the Mediterranean diet and consists of a plethora of healthy fare including legumes, whole grains, a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, lean meat, nuts, seeds, olive oil, fish, green tea, plant oils (except tropical oils such as palm and coconut), and low fat dairy.
This dietary practice contains foods rich in fiber, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (especially omega 3), micronutrients, phytosterols, polyphenols and antioxidants. This diet also concentrates on utilizing anti-inflammatory, antioxidative spices such as black pepper, ginger, garlic, turmeric, rosemary, and cinnamon for food flavoring.
Foods that should be avoided or consumed sparingly as they are potentiators of inflammation, include ultra-processed foods, refined carbohydrates, candy and sweets, juice and soda, fried foods and saturated fat from red meat, with low to moderate consumption of alcohol (preferably red wine).
Winter Anti-inflammatory Recipes
1. Parsnip and Butternut Squash Soup
This colorful and delicious, orange-hued concoction is made with a soup stock of your choosing such as chicken or vegetable and vegetables such as parsnips, carrots, butternut squash and apples, and flavored with onion, garlic, salt and pepper, cinnamon, allspice and red pepper flakes.
After the vegetables are stewed in the broth and are yielding to the piercing of a fork, an immersion blender may be used to create a pretty and silky-smooth soup that is both delicious and warmly comforting on a cold day.
This can be served alone, with crusty, buttered bread, or perhaps with a salad or fresh slab of baked salmon.
2. Roasted veggies with salmon
This is a very simple dish that can be prepared on one baking sheet. In this particular recipe, it includes roughly chopped green beans, sweet potato and mushrooms, however, any combination of vegetables you have on hand such as squash, brussel sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, peppers, onions and broccoli may be used.
The vegetables and fish are liberally coated in olive oil, rice wine vinegar, salt, pepper, freshly grated ginger and soy sauce, and finally drizzled with honey and tahini before being roasted and their sugars caramelized.
3. Apple Cranberry spinach salad
This fresh salad combines a well-rounded taste that is simultaneously sweet, salty and savory and provides an array of pleasing textures. This salad is served on a bed of tender and juvenile spinach leaves and topped with pecans, cranberries, apples, and crumbled goat cheese, and drizzled with a homemade vinaigrette of olive oil, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar and of course, salt and pepper.
This can be enjoyed as an accompaniment to a meal or can be made more substantial when served with tofu or baked chicken and a piece of whole grain bread.
4. Beef and broccoli stir fry
This delectable Asian stir fry uses sautéed broccoli, beef strips and crisp bok choy, flavored with soy sauce, sesame oil, chicken broth, oyster sauce, ginger and sherry. This is an easy meal that is prepared in one wok and can be made in a rather large batch and takes little time to cook and enjoy.
Numerous chronic diseases are rooted in, and are perpetuated by, inflammatory processes. These conditions can be debilitating, may elicit high morbidity, pain and even be lethal for some depending on the nature of the disease, the often-common preexistence of other comorbidities, and the severity of disease. Adhering to a healthy diet can attenuate inflammation, and help prevent or even manage disease, while also being delicious and satisfying.
Foods that fight inflammation. Harvard Health. (2021, November 16). Retrieved February 3, 2022, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation
Leah Goggins headshot Leah Goggins Reviewed by Dietitian Jessica Ball, M. S. (2021). 27 anti-inflammatory dinners you’ll want to make this fall. EatingWell. Retrieved February 3, 2022, from https://www.eatingwell.com/gallery/7915879/anti-inflammatory-dinner-recipes-for-fall/?slide=4c40531b-ebde-465e-b59a-1a991dc1668d#4c40531b-ebde-465e-b59a-1a991dc1668d
Pahwa, R. (2021, September 28). Chronic inflammation. StatPearls [Internet]. Retrieved February 3, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/
Poudel, P. (2021, April 25). Inflammatory arthritis. StatPearls [Internet]. Retrieved February 3, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507704/
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