So… the year 2020 isn’t turning out quite as we expected and summer feels sort of like it’s been cancelled on us. But when the sun comes out, there’s no denying that seasonal fresh food can really hit the spot.
Here are some tips on incorporating healthy ingredients in your summer mealtimes, which can help to reduce symptoms of chronic inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis and other health conditions while bolstering your immune system.
What is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?
Inflammation is a natural bodily function that helps your body to defend itself and recover from injury, but it’s harmful when it becomes chronic.
Foods to include
Some foods, particularly nutrient-dense foods that contain antioxidants, are naturally anti-inflammatory. Healthy fruits and vegetables like broccoli, kale, berries and avocados are great for this! There’s even room for treats on an anti-inflammatory diet including red wine and dark chocolate in moderation, and there are loads of healthy fats which you should include from fatty fish like salmon, nuts and olive oil.
Foods to avoid
There are also foods to avoid if you want to reduce inflammation through your diet. These include sugary drinks and desserts, red meat and processed snack foods as well as foods with partially hydrogenated fats like fried foods.
Swapping white bread and pasta for wholegrain varieties is also worth doing if you suffer from chronic inflammation, due to their lower glycaemic index. Foods lower down on the glycaemic index are digested more slowly, meaning blood sugar levels won’t rise and fall as dramatically, helping to reduce inflammation.
Tips for Healthy Eating in the Summer
There are other things you can do to increase the efficiency of your anti-inflammatory diet:
- Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water rather than sugary drinks or juices
- Grill food instead of frying or roasting it, to cut calories and hydrogenated fats
- Get out and enjoy the summer weather with a post-lunch walk or evening stroll, as exercise can decrease inflammatory markers and your risk of chronic disease
- Summer is an amazing time of year for produce, and eating fresh seasonal ingredients means that you are consuming fruit and vegetables at their best, when they are perfectly ripened and full of nutrients
Our Favourite Anti-Inflammatory Summer Recipes
Here are some delicious summer recipes to try with salads, salsas and sizzling grilled fish, all full of wonderful ingredients with anti-inflammatory properties.
If you are looking for further inspiration for your morning meals, check out these healthy breakfast ideas.
This epic summer salad by Cassie Best, senior food editor for BBC Good Food, is full of mouth-watering fresh ingredients and makes for a wonderful addition to a BBQ or can be enjoyed on its own.
Preparation: 10 mins; serves: 6
- 400g black beans
- 2 large handfuls baby spinach leaves
- 500g heritage tomatoes, chopped
- ½ cucumber, halved lengthways, and sliced on an angle
- 1 mango, peeled and chopped into chunks
- 1 large red onion, finely sliced
- 6-8 radishes, sliced
- 2 avocados, peeled and sliced
- 100g feta, crumbled
- handful of herbs (reserved from the dressing)
For the dressing
- large bunch mint, small bunch coriander, small bunch basil
- 1 fat green chilli, deseeded and chopped
- 1 small garlic clove
- 100ml extra virgin olive oil
- 2 limes, zested and juiced
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp honey
- Blend all of the ingredients in a food for the dressing, saving a few herb leaves for the salad.
- Scatter the beans and spinach over a large platter. Arrange the tomatoes, cucumber, mango, onion and radishes on top and gently toss together. Top the salad with the avocados, feta and herbs, and serve the dressing on the side.
The legumes, fresh vegetables and leafy greens in this recipe are full of nutrients and antioxidants that fight inflammation and the avocados are a great source of healthy fats. You even get a little boost of vitamin D with the inclusion of feta, which can help to regulate the production of pro-inflammatory cells.
Whether you are vegan or not, this dish by Sophie Godwin at BBC Good Food will get your taste buds tingling. Forget the filet steak and try these cauliflower steaks with roasted red pepper & olive salsa instead.
Preparation: 15 mins; cook: 15 – 20 mins; serves: 2
- 1 cauliflower
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 roasted red pepper
For the salsa
- 4 black olives, pitted
- small handful parsley
- 1 tsp capers
- ½ tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp toasted flaked almonds
- Heat oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7 and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Slice the cauliflower into two 1-inch steaks. Rub the paprika and 1⁄2 tbsp oil over the steaks and season and roast for 15-20 mins until cooked through.
- Meanwhile, make the salsa. Chop the pepper, olives, parsley and capers, and put into a bowl and mix with the remaining oil and vinegar. Season to taste. When the steaks are cooked, spoon over the salsa and top with flaked almonds to serve.
The flaked almonds and olive oil in this recipe are great sources of healthy fats. The cauliflower provides a fantastic dose of vitamin C and vitamin B6 and is packed with antioxidants, all helping to reduce inflammation in the body.
If it’s something more substantial than a salad you’re after, try this grilled harissa sardines with fennel & potato salad recipe, created by seasonal ingredient enthusiast, Diana Henry.
Preparation: 20 mins; cook: 30 mins; serves: 6
- 900g new potatoes
- 2 fennel bulbs
- 1⁄2 lemon, juiced
- 24 black olives
- 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
For the sardines
- 12 sardines, cleaned and gutted
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- Harissa oil for brushing
- 2 lemons, 1 juiced, 1 cut into wedges to serve
- 3 tbsp chopped parsley
- Boil the potatoes until tender, about 15-20 mins. While they’re cooking, remove any tough outer leaves from the fennel and trim the tops, keeping any feathery fronds. Cut the fennel into very fine slices. Put them in a bowl and squeeze over the lemon juice. When the potatoes are tender, drain well and toss with the fennel, olives, extra virgin olive oil, some seasoning and the reserved fronds.
- If the sardines haven’t been scaled, remove by hand under running water and dry with kitchen paper.
- Heat the grill. Put the sardines on a grill tray covered with foil. Brush them with the harissa oil (on both sides), season with salt and put under a very hot grill and cook for 4-5 mins each side, or until cooked through. Pour over the lemon juice and scatter with the parsley. Serve on the fennel and potato salad with wedges of lemon for squeezing over.
The Mediterranean diet has long been revered for its high healthy fat content and antioxidant components. The sardines are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and are one of the best foods rich in vitamin D. Although the addition of so much olive oil may seem over-indulgent, it’s a monounsaturated fat and is known to ward off inflammation, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Let us know if incorporating these inflammation-fighting ingredients into your diet works for you. The To Better Days Facebook page is a great destination to share your holistic health tips and read the success stories of other chronic pain warriors. We can’t wait to hear from you!