How to use food to fight inflammation

In a world where health and well-being take center stage, the concept of an anti-inflammatory diet has emerged as a beacon of hope and healing. More than just a passing trend, this dietary approach has gained recognition for its potential to alleviate chronic inflammation, enhance vitality, and promote overall wellness. Today, we will be discussing the significance of adopting an anti-inflammatory diet and how it can transform your relationship with food and your body.

Understanding chronic inflammation

slipped disc, back pain
While dietary changes alone is not going to cure your back pain or sciatica it can help improve your pain experience

Before we talk about anti-inflammatory diets, it’s crucial to comprehend the role of inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is a complex physiological response that occurs when the body’s immune system remains activated over an extended period. While inflammation is a natural defense mechanism against injury and infection, prolonged or excessive inflammation can lead to a range of health issues, including chronic pain.

When the body’s immune response becomes dysregulated and continues beyond its normal scope, it can contribute to persistent pain experiences. This chronic pain is often characterised by discomfort, aches, and soreness that can lead to back pain and even slipped discs.

Chronic inflammation and pain are interconnected in a bidirectional relationship. On one hand, chronic inflammation can trigger and perpetuate pain pathways, leading to a cycle of discomfort. On the other hand, persistent pain itself can trigger an inflammatory response, further exacerbating the issue.

Addressing chronic inflammation is essential in managing and alleviating chronic pain. Lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, stress management, and adequate sleep play crucial roles in modulating inflammation levels. A balanced diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, including those abundant in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, can help mitigate inflammation and potentially reduce pain.

What do you eat on an anti-inflammatory diet?

At its core, an anti-inflammatory diet is rooted in eating nutritious whole foods. Colourful fruits, vibrant vegetables, wholesome grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats form the foundation of this dietary approach. These foods are not only nourishing but also possess inherent anti-inflammatory properties that support the body’s healing mechanisms.

What does phytonutrients do to the body?

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Vegan influencer <a href=httpschiropractor singaporecomsgresourcesvegan influencer zhanna samsonova 39 dies from starvation>Zhanna Samsonova<a> died last month from starvation and exhaustion A vegan diet is notably high in natural whole foods This means lots of colourful vegetables that are packed with phytonutrients from carotenoids to flavonoids However a balanced diet is still key to a healthy life

One of the remarkable aspects of an anti-inflammatory diet is the abundance of phytonutrients it offers. These natural compounds found in plants hold a treasure trove of health benefits. From the vibrant hues of berries to the deep greens of leafy vegetables, each color signifies a unique combination of phytonutrients that combat inflammation and fortify the body’s defenses.

These bioactive compounds possess a range of protective properties, from antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects to immune system support. For instance, flavonoids found in colorful fruits and vegetables have been shown to possess potent anti-inflammatory properties, while carotenoids contribute not only to vibrant pigments but also to enhanced immunity.

Crucially, phytonutrients don’t just work in isolation. They often synergise to amplify their health benefits. For instance, the trio of quercetin, resveratrol, and anthocyanins found in berries collaborates to combat oxidative stress and inflammation, promoting overall vitality.

The concept of “eating the rainbow” takes on new meaning when viewed through the lens of phytonutrients. By embracing a diverse array of plant-based foods and incorporating a variety of colors onto your plate, you’re not only indulging in a visually appealing meal but also nourishing your body with a potent arsenal of health-boosting compounds.

Don’t forget a high quality extra virgin olive oil

olive oil benefits
The benefits of mediterranean diet can be attributed in part to their olive oil consumption Beyond helping with inflammation it also has neuroprotective and cardioprotective effects

Within the realm of culinary delights, extra virgin olive oil stands as a true gem. This liquid gold boasts a robust profile of over 20 different phenols. Hydroxytyrosol and oleocanthal and are two polyphenols that are of interest to individuals with inflammation-associated chronic pain.

Hydroxytyrosol is celebrated for its exceptional antioxidant potency. It operates as a stalwart defender against the harmful effects of free radicals, those mischievous molecules that can cause oxidative stress and contribute to various chronic diseases. Hydroxytyrosol has been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects, assisting in the body’s fight against chronic inflammation. This can have far-reaching implications for overall health, as chronic inflammation is associated with numerous health conditions.

Oleocanthal has been purported to work like a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) agent. It achieve its anti-inflammatory effect through its action as a cyclo-oxygenase (COX) enzyme inhibitor. It is postulated that long term consumption of a good quality olive oil containing oleocanthal may contribute to the cancer protective and anti-inflammatory agents associated with the Mediterranean dietary pattern.

So, the next time you drizzle that velvety liquid onto your salad or let it dance in the pan, remember that extra virgin olive oil is not just a culinary delight – it’s a conduit of health, a source of antioxidant might that harmonizes taste and well-being in a delectable union.

How to choose a high quality extra virgin olive oil?

The quality of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is often determined by its relatively high polyphenol content. They significantly contribute to the oil’s aromatic qualities, bitterness, and pungency. An olive oil lacking the scent of fresh fruit and the peppery sensation may not possess substantial polyphenols.

A notable phenolic content in EVOO is generally achieved when it contains over 250 mg of phenolic compounds per kg, although certain oils may reach as high as 1500 mg/kg. Many EVOOs found in supermarkets tend to hover around 100 mg/kg in phenolic content. While they may be good enough for daily cooking, they are unlikely to contain enough polyphenols to contribute to an anti-inflammatory diet.

Because of the health motivations behind EVOO consumption, some producers have started marketing their olive oils as ultra polyphenolic. For example, award-winning Olive Poem from Greece contains 2350 mg/kg of polyphenols. This amount is nearly 10 times greater than the EU’s stipulated 250 mg/kg of polyphenols, a threshold for olive oil to be promoted as conferring health benefits.

Olive oils vary in quality. While aspects like color, clarity, and origin can influence taste, the crucial health aspect lies in phenol content. Additionally, take note of the harvest date; consuming fresher EVOO, ideally within two years of harvest, is recommended. Lastly, ensure authenticity, as counterfeit EVOOs have surfaced in the market.

Omega-3 can help with some arthritis and inflammatory pain

In the world of health and wellness, few topics have garnered as much attention and enthusiasm as omega-3 fatty acids. Touted as a panacea for various ailments, from cardiovascular health to brain function, these fatty acids have also sparked speculation about their potential role in alleviating chronic pain.

Advocates argue that their anti-inflammatory properties could potentially translate into relief for those grappling with chronic pain conditions. Many chronic pain conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and neck pain can be affected by inflammation. The theory is alluring: by reducing inflammation, omega-3s might act as natural pain relievers, sparing individuals the need for pharmaceutical interventions.

While the theory sounds promising, let’s temper our enthusiasm with a healthy dose of scientific scrutiny. Research on the effectiveness of omega-3s in alleviating chronic pain remains inconclusive and often riddled with limitations. While some studies suggest a modest benefit in specific pain conditions, others fall short of delivering compelling evidence.

Chronic pain is not a monolithic entity but rather a complex interplay of physiological, psychological, and environmental factors. Assuming that omega-3s hold the key to universal pain relief oversimplifies the intricate nature of chronic pain management. Factors like individual variability, dosage, and the form of omega-3s (EPA, DHA) further muddy the waters.

While omega-3 fatty acids undeniably play a role in overall health, the notion that they hold the ultimate key to chronic pain relief remains a stretch. It’s essential to approach this purported solution with a measure of caution and realism. Instead of placing all our bets on omega-3s, let’s focus on a multidimensional approach to chronic pain management that integrates exercise, lifestyle changes, and evidence-based therapies. After all, chronic pain deserves a comprehensive solution, not a one-size-fits-all remedy.

Recommendation of oily fish consumption in Singapore

In Singapore, dietary recommendations emphasise the importance of including fish in your diet. The Health Promotion Board (HPB) recommends consuming two servings of fish, especially oily fish, per week. Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. They are known to support heart health, brain function, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

The omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), play a crucial role in reducing inflammation, lowering triglycerides, and promoting overall cardiovascular well-being. These nutrients are also beneficial for cognitive function. They also contribute to development of the baby’s brain and eyes during pregnancy.

To incorporate oily fish into your diet, consider enjoying grilled or baked fish fillets. Adding canned sardines to meals or trying traditional dishes like fish curry made with mackerel can also help. Choose a variety of fish and include a mix of lean and oily options to ensure a well-rounded nutrient intake.

The omega-3 and omega 6 ratio controversy

Omega-6 fats, primarily sourced from vegetable oils, offer notable benefits as well. They contribute to the reduction of harmful LDL cholesterol levels and elevate the presence of protective HDL cholesterol. Additionally, they play a role in regulating blood sugar by enhancing the body’s responsiveness to insulin. However, despite their positive attributes, omega-6 fats often remain overshadowed by the more renowned omega-3 fats.

Critics of omega-6 fats highlight the conversion potential of linolenic acid into arachidonic acid. Arachidonic acid is a precursor to compounds associated with inflammation, blood clotting, and blood vessel constriction. Having said that, our body also converts the same arachidonic acid into molecules that calm inflammation and fight blood clots. Some studies showed that the actual conversion of linolenic acid to arachidonic acid is low, even when abundant in the diet.

Previous literature suggested an optimal omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio of 4:1. In practical terms, this translates to targeting 1 gram of omega-3s for every 4 grams of omega-6 consumed. The typical western diet, however, provides an omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio of approximately 20:1. In other words, many people are consuming a lot more omega-6 and too little omega 3.

Research then purported that when omega-6 intake surpasses a balanced level, it can trigger a persistent state of low-grade inflammation. This chronic inflammation has been associated with a range of serious and chronic health conditions, including chronic pain and arthritis.

The verdict is still not out. Striving for a balanced diet to include sufficient omega-3s is adequate for now. Should omega-6 be a concern for you, you can aim for the 4:1 ratio. However, it is important to note that omega-6 is still important for our health and to not avoid it completely

Utilising a whole-person approach in chiropractic care

jesse cai, chiropractor singapore
By combining exercise with the necessary lifestyle changes you can achieve results that none can compare An evidence based biopsychosocial approach does not only help with your pain but also to improve your overall health

The integration of a whole person approach is paramount for achieving best results in chronic pain management. As a chiropractor, recognising the intricate interplay between diet, inflammation, and musculoskeletal health enables us to empower our patients with a comprehensive strategy for long-term relief and improved well-being. The integration of a whole person approach is grounded in evidence-based biopsychosocial principles. This means approaching your recovery not just from a muscle-and-joints approach but also your lifestyle and general health.

By incorporating dietary changes into the holistic approach of chiropractic, we can not only addresses the immediate discomfort but also fosters a foundation of vitality that supports patients in their journey towards optimal health. Whole foods rich in anti-inflammatory properties, such as fruits, vegetables, fatty fish, and nuts, can also help with other chronic conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and autoimmune issues.

To learn more about how our whole-person approach can guide you towards freedom from chronic pain, we invite you to reach out and connect with us. Our dedicated team is committed to understanding your unique needs and crafting a tailored plan for you. Drop us a message today, and let us partner with you in your quest for lasting relief and a life unburdened by pain.


Frustrated by the lack of results-driven and ethical chiropractic clinics in Singapore, Chiropractor Jesse Cai found Square One Active Recovery to deliver meaningful and sustainable pain solutions.

Our goal? To make our own services redundant to you.

*We do not offer temporary pain relief such as chiropractic adjustments, dry needling, or any form of soft tissue therapy.