Eight Natural Supplements to Help Fight Inflammation
More and more research has shown that chronic inflammation within the body has a myriad of negative effects. "Most people look at it as a pretty boring and unsexy topic until they have a serious health problem," says Megan Kober, the dietitian and nutrition coach behind Nutrition Addiction. "But what if I told you inflammation is the reason you're hanging onto those last five to ten pounds? Or that it's the reason your digestion is awful, you're bloated, you can't get out of bed in the morning, or you're exhausted by 2 p.m.? You'd probably perk up a little."
After all, she continues, when your body is constantly trying to throw water on the fire you're burning inside, it becomes easily (and understandably) exhausted. Not to mention the fact that your body won't make weight loss a priority when it has bigger problems to deal with. When left unchecked, inflammation can lead to arthritis, migraines, fibromyalgia, allergies, autoimmune diseases, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. It can also reveal itself in the form of acne, eczema, and rosacea. The good news? Diet and lifestyle can be major players in reducing inflammation—specifically, a Mediterranean diet filled with healthy fats, fresh fruits, veggies, and wild fish, says Dr. Lamees Hamdan, founder of Shiffa. It's never a bad idea to bulk up that diet with added supplements, especially since we're "under pro-inflammatory conditions, be it from the toxins that pollute the air, the types of food we eat, or stress" all the time, she says. Here, eight of the best natural supplements to fight inflammation all day long.
The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which stops inflammation before it starts, Kober says. "I grew up in the Middle East and have been exposed to the medical benefit of this powerful anti-inflammatory herb since I was a child," Dr. Hamdan adds. But in order to absorb turmeric, it must be paired with black pepper and a healthy source of fat. Kober recommends Further Food Superfood Turmeric Powder ($14.50, shop.furtherfood.com) because it combines turmeric with black pepper and can be easily mixed into fat-filled coconut milk.
"Gingerols are powerful anti-inflammatory compounds found in ginger root, and it's such an easy one to add to your diet," Kober says. There are plenty of ways to consume this powerful ingredient: Drink ginger tea or add fresh or powdered ginger to a stir-fry, for example.
Medicinal mushrooms are a huge trend for a reason right now, says Kober. "They contain powerful, anti-inflammatory agents that fight oxidative stress, boost the immune system, and may even kill off cancer cells." Her favorites are shiitake, reishi, and chaga, and their powders can often be stirred into coffee or tea. She especially likes Moon Juice's Reishi powder ($48, moonjuice.com).
Good news for caffeine addicts: Matcha is one caffeine-filled drink that is super anti-inflammatory, thanks to its high antioxidant content. It gets better. "Matcha green tea powder is derived from a powerful plant called camellia sinensis, which is known for its ability to reduce cortisol and stress in the body," says Candice Kumai, wellness author and journalist. "As a result, matcha's properties may reduce inflammation that's often caused from lack of sleep, stress, and eating inflammatory foods." She recommends Matcha Love ($17, matchalove.com), which gives her energy while traveling between her many businesses in Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, and Sydney.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
"Industrial seed oils like canola, soybean, corn, sunflower, and safflower are primarily made up of inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids," Kober says. "Because of our high consumption of these oils, Americans have an average omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 15 to 1 instead of 1 to 1." That's why anti-inflammatory omega-3 supplements are pretty important. Try a krill, cod liver, or an algae oil supplement like Nordic Naturals Algae Omega ($29.95, nordicnaturals.com).
The antioxidant found in grapes, berries, and red wine has been shown to reduce inflammation caused by a bacterial pathogen linked to upper respiratory tract diseases—and there's evidence that it can reverse the signs of aging, Kober notes. "I don't recommend dosing yourself with wine, though, because you won't get enough of it to fight inflammation." Instead, take it in pill form and be sure to find one that contains the active form of the antioxidant trans-resveratrol, she adds, noting that Pure Encapsulations Resveratrol ($37.50, pureformulas.com) is a good option.
Vitamin D fights inflammatory proteins in the body, Kober says. Get your levels periodically checked, and if you're vitamin D deficient—which may be the case if you live in colder climates—take a quality supplement, such as Seeking Health Optimal Vitamin D Drops ($19.95, seekinghealth.com), daily.
"I always like to prescribe a good multivitamin because when your body is under chronic inflammation, its need for certain vitamins and minerals increases," Hamdan says. The trick, however, is finding one that will let you absorb most of the nutrients. That's why she made DL.MD 13.5.1 ($45, sephora.com), which is a liquid that boasts a 98 percent absorption rate.