WATCH: Osteopath Vicky Vlachonis Shares Anti-Inflammatory Food Swaps

Last Update: May 26, 2023

Want to feel better, have more energy, and feel less pain? It can be done! But it might involve overhauling your kitchen cabinet.

A diet comprised of fresh whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acid, can greatly reduce inflammation and keep your brain well-nourished and content. Dry foods can be tricky, so you must be careful and read all labels. Watch the video and read on to learn about all the pain-causing foods that belong in the trash bin—and the anti-inflammatory swaps to replace them with!

Goodbye Earl Gray or English Breakfast Tea

Earl Grey tea has added bergamot, which can trigger muscle cramps in sensitive individuals. English breakfast tea does have anti-inflammatory power, but also has high levels of caffeine. Drinking too much can trigger inflammatory stress hormones, neutralizing the beneficial effect.

Hello Nettle Tea

A powerful diuretic, nettle tea is naturally caffeine-free and reduces bloating, blood sugar, blood pressure, and inflammation. Nettle has been used in many cultures for centuries to help reduce general joint and muscle pain, arthritis, and gout. It also helps stimulates lymph system to boost immunity. You can drink this tea all day long! It’s also a great replacement for your afternoon coffee.

Goodbye Balsamic Vinegar

Many brands of balsamic vinegar are actually “condiment balsamic vinegar,” which is nothing more than white vinegar with caramel color and extra added sugar—and no beneficial bacteria. If you want to eat balsamic vinegar, at least make sure it’s real.

Hello Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

The fermentation process in raw apple cider vinegar creates beneficial bacteria and enzymes that reduce inflammation. Look for “cold-pressed” brands that have sediment in the bottom. Create an anti-inflammatory daily tonic by adding two tablespoons to eight ounces of water, or use as a dressing.

Goodbye Ibuprofen

Earlier this year, the FDA announced that they are strengthening warnings on painkillers such as ibuprofen. The current label that says such drugs “may cause increased risk” of heart attack and stroke is being changed to “cause an increase risk” of serious heart failure. According to Dr. Jude Racoosin from the F.D.A’s Division of Anesthesia, “Everyone may be at risk, even people without an underlying risk for cardiovascular disease.”

Hello Turmeric

The chemicals in turmeric can help decrease inflammation. Some studies show that taking turmeric extracts can reduce osteoarthritis pain. In one study, turmeric and ibuprofen had nearly the same effect when reducing pain caused by osteoarthritis. According to The Mediterranean Diet, which happens to be king of all anti-inflammatory diets, you can never have too much turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon!

Goodbye Refined Sugar

This prime offender rapidly increases blood glucose and stimulates the release of inflammatory cytokines. No other change can make as great a difference as this one, because sugar is the number-one pain-causing food. A study in the journal Nature suggests that artificial sweeteners such as saccharin (as in Sweet’N Low), sucralose (Splenda), or aspartame (Equal) trigger changes in our gut microbiome that spike our blood sugar higher and decrease it more slowly. Just as with sugar, these changes not only trigger insulin resistance (and, eventually, type 2 diabetes) but also higher levels of inflammation. When you combine this effect with lingering questions about the neurotoxic impact (i.e., nervous system, the system that registers pain) of some of these chemical sweeteners, fake sugar is clearly just as bad—maybe even worse—than real sugar!

Hello Unstrained Raw Honey

All honey has small amounts of naturally produced hydrogen peroxide, which help fight inflammation-causing bacteria. Raw honey has anti-viral, anti-fungal properties and a powerful antioxidant to strengthen the immune system.  You can use it on rye or gluten-free toast, in coffee, or eat a spoonful straight—anything to help kick that sugar craving!

Goodbye Salted Peanuts

As a common allergen, peanuts have the same cautions as oranges or strawberries. Peanuts are also high in omega-6 fatty acids (already in inflammation-raising abundance in our diets) with almost no inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids.

Hello Flax and Chia Seeds

Flax and chia seeds are two of the only nuts or seeds that have more omega-3 than omega-6s. Almonds mainly have omega-6s, but they have a greater ratio of monounsaturated fats (as in olive oil or avocados) to polyunsaturated fats (as in vegetable oil) than peanuts. Use flax and chia seeds on rye or gluten-free toast, in smoothies or as a fruit topping.

Video credits
Produced & Directed by: Liza Glucoft
Director of Photography: Naeem Munaf
Editor: Stephanie Provence

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Vicky Vlachonis

Vicky Vlachonis (pronounced Vla-koh-niss) was born in Athens, Greece, into a sports and health-oriented family, inspiring Vicky to go on and be one of the first women to earn a Master’s Degree from the European School of Osteopathy. Vicky began her professional career working as a musculoskeletal specialist at some of London’s most prestigious holistic clinics, including the Hale Clinic and the Integrated Medical Centre, treating dancers from the Royal Ballet and major West End theatre productions such as Cats and The Lion King. Vicky established her own practice in 2001, combining a variety of holistic treatments and methods which include individualized, concrete steps and practices to alleviate and release physical, emotional and mental pain. With a reputation for achieving long-term, sustainable results, Vicky has gained a dedicated following, including members of the British Royal Family and some of the world’s most recognized faces in business, media and the arts. Today, Vlachonis practices in Beverly Hills, California where she lives with her husband and two sons.

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