You probably hear a lot about anti-inflammatory diets these days, which can leave you wondering if inflammation is another topic you should add to your list of things to overthink at 2:00 a.m., or a natural bodily response that’s working just fine on its own without any intervention by you (or your overthinking brain).
If your healthy lifestyle practices are generally in check, the latter will likely be true. But sometimes, your immune system (the system that runs the inflammation show) can become off-balanced, causing levels of inflammation to rise even when there’s no need for them to be rising.
Below, we’ll explain your body’s inflammatory response, discuss its main triggers, and give you six delicious recipes that help calm the immune system like positive affirmations and a big hug.
What Is the Inflammatory Response?
The immune system is the home of the body’s paramedics team. When you sustain an injury (like a cut or a broken bone), the immune system sends out inflammatory cells and cytokines (specialized proteins that act as messengers between inflammatory cells) to the site. These cells begin to heal the wound, eliminate bacteria, and restore your body’s homeostasis.
There are two types of inflammation: acute inflammation and chronic inflammation.
- Acute inflammation. This type of inflammation is what you’ll experience if you are injured, or if you get sick. The body sends out inflammatory cells, your wound or illness is healed, the inflammation subsides and the immune system goes back to standby mode.
- Chronic inflammation. Here’s where inflammation gets tricky. Chronic inflammation happens when the immune system continues to send out inflammatory cells and cytokines even when there’s no injury or illness. This can happen for various reasons, including ongoing stress or repeated exposure to toxins or foods that you’re sensitive to, and in some cases is linked to an underlying autoimmune disease.
Acute inflammation is helpful and necessary for survival. Chronic inflammation, however, is detrimental to your health, and underlies a myriad of chronic diseases, like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even allergies.
Why Is the Inflammatory Response Important?
What’s the big deal with a little inflammation? Chronic diseases. Diseases that are developed from chronic inflammation are rampant, and include some of the leading causes of death of Americans.
So, we've covered the bad news — but the good news is that we can support our immune systems, a healthy inflammatory response, and a wide range of other amazing health benefits simply by including the right foods in our diets (and eliminating the not-so-right ones).
Here, we’ll give you six flavorful, easy recipes that are packed with immune-supportive ingredients, antioxidants, and loads of nutrients to help support your immune system, protect your body, and help you thrive.
Spoiler alert: they’re all incredibly delicious, too.
6 Anti-Inflammatory Recipes To Start Your Day
Fruits and veggies are packed with anti-inflammatory compounds. These recipes include whole foods, healthy fats, and powerhouse herbs that have been used for centuries to support wellness.
1. Tropical Turmeric Golden Milk Smoothie
Looking for the perfect poolside drink this summer? Look no further. Our Tropical Turmeric Golden Milk Smoothie has the power to transport you to paradise, even if you’re actually staring at a laptop with a beach-themed screensaver.
Combining the tropical flavors of banana, mango, and pineapple with a plant-based milk of your choice (try coconut for added island flavor), you’ll get plenty of immune system loving vitamin B6, vitamin A, and vitamin C.
Add in a scoop of Restore Turmeric Superblend to supercharge this dairy-free delight, and you’ll also get the anti-inflammatory benefits of adaptogenic ashwagandha, astragalus, and turmeric. Turmeric’s main compound, curcumin, has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Indian Aruyvedic medicine for centuries to help reduce joint pain, calm inflammation, and support healthy blood flow.
This smoothie has true superpowers that make it taste great and lower inflammation. Two reasons to add it into your smoothie lineup.
2. Matcha Smoothie
If you aren’t already drinking matcha, here’s your sign to start. Derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, matcha is an anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense, powdered green tea that is whisked into the liquid of your choice (like water or milk).
Matcha is beneficial because it’s packed with antioxidants, amino acids, minerals, and plant compounds like chlorophyll, which supports the removal of toxins from the body. This link will take you to six matcha smoothie recipes, all of which include Focus Matcha Superblend, our energy-drink alternative that produces clean, non-jittery energy without an afternoon crash.
Also inside are adaptogenic ashwagandha, which has anti-inflammatory properties, and lion’s mane. Lion’s mane is a funky little mushroom that looks like (you guessed it) a lion’s mane and is a great source of inflammation-protecting antioxidants.
We love the energizing Matcha Mint Smoothie, which blends coconut milk with Matcha Focus Superblend powder, leafy green spinach, banana, and chia seeds for an anti-inflammatory drink that only tastes like a decadent dessert.
3. Turmeric-Cacao Latte
Golden milk, but make it chocolatey. You’ve got it when you try our Golden Bliss Latte. The recipe page has several variations, but for the most anti-inflammatory benefits, we recommend the variation using both Calm Cacao Superblend and Restore Turmeric Superblend.
This recipe combines the soothing, restorative benefits of turmeric with adaptogenic ashwagandha and reishi mushrooms and antioxidant-rich cacao for a calming drink that helps lower inflammation and helps you relax after a stressful day.
Reishi mushrooms have been used for centuries in traditional medicine to support the immune system, and adding a scoop of Calm Cacao Superblend to your turmeric latte gives you the inflammation-lowering, immune-boosting benefits you want.
4. Coconut Matcha Protein Energy Balls
There are snacks, and then there are health-supportive mini-meals that keep you full between lunch and dinner and even support your weight loss journey. File these energy balls under that second category.
Matcha protein energy balls combine protein powder, Focus Matcha Superblend powder, and a nut butter of your choice to deliver hunger-satiating energy with anti-inflammatory herbs for a treat that you can make in batches and store in your freezer.
These energy balls are also a great low-carb option and can be made gluten-free depending on the contents of the protein powder you use.
5. Functional Matcha Chia Pudding
There’s more than one way to matcha. This Matcha Chia Pudding combines anti-inflammatory health benefits we love together in one delicious cup of yumminess. You’ll get the inflammation-busting benefits from omega-3 fatty acid along with fiber and antioxidants, and of course, the powerful anti-inflammatory and brain-healthy benefits of our Focus Matcha Superblend.
This recipe is incredibly easy to make and contains only five ingredients (and whatever toppings you’d like). You can easily add these chia puddings to your meal-prep by preparing them in individual containers up to four days in advance of when you plan to eat them.
Added bonus: chia is loaded with heart-healthy fiber, and contains a compound called caffeic acid, which has shown promise in helping support colon health and modulating inflammatory cells in the digestive tract.
6. Superfood Overnight Oats
We’ll admit it. We got burned out on overnight oats just like everyone else did. And then we developed this fool-proof recipe for elevated overnight oats that contains energy-boosting, anti-inflammatory ingredients, and we dusted off our Mason jars once more.
The key to making overnight oats successfully is to make sure your whole grains to liquids ratio is perfect. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a soggy mess, or with oats that are too crispy to eat. We hit the JOYÀ test kitchen and created the solution, giving you access to a recipe that never fails to produce the perfect, creamy, overnight oats that will quickly become one of your favorite healthy recipes.
To support your immune system, boost your ability to focus, calm your nerves, or lower inflammation, simply add your favorite JOYÀ Superblend. It’s that easy to add stress support and immune defense to your breakfast, even on days when you can’t seem to defend yourself against running late.
Other Foods That Support Immunity
Supporting your inflammatory response with your dietary choices means picking foods that are healthy for your body, and avoiding foods that are linked with triggering unwanted inflammatory responses.
Foods To Choose
Nutrition is complex. Staying healthy shouldn’t be. That’s one reason JOYÀ exists. We make it easy to get access to beneficial, adaptogenic herbs that boost your health. You can make smarter, easier choices at the market, too. Need some tips? Here’s how to load your cart with foods that support your immune system.
- Shop the perimeter. Instead of prepackaged, processed foods that are typically in the middle aisles, shop the outer aisles which usually contain whole foods and lean proteins.
- Load up on antioxidants. Antioxidants protect your cells from oxidative stress, a phenomenon that occurs when too many free radicals are formed in your body. Free radicals are a by-product of normal metabolic processes, and are also produced when you come in contact with environmental aggressors like the sun, pollution, and cigarette smoke. You can find antioxidants in all JOYÀ Superblends, and in colorful foods like sweet potatoes, bell peppers, blueberries, strawberries, and beets.
- Choose whole grains. A few simple swaps can help you avoid ingredients that could trigger an immune response in your body. In fact, this study found that including whole grains like whole brown rice and quinoa was related to lower blood plasma concentrations of C-reactive protein (CRP), a key marker for inflammation in the body.
- Stock up on omega-3s. Omega-3s are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid that helps lower inflammation. To enjoy these benefits, try eating fatty fish, such as salmon, chia seeds, and olive oil. You can even channel the Mediterranean diet and use cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil to make a delicious artichoke pesto.
- Some other great foods you can throw in your snacks or dinner recipes to fight inflammation include turmeric, cilantro, cumin, and black pepper. You can also look for foods high in vitamin C and polyphenols.
Try experimenting with whole grain flours (rye, oat, barley) or ancient grains (spelt, kamut) next time you bake your favorite muffins or loaf. Choose whole grain sourdough or Ezekiel bread over white bread. These decisions help increase your intake of complex carbohydrates and steer you away from refined carbohydrates which could trigger an unwanted immune response.
Foods To Avoid
Just as it’s important to eat the right foods, it’s also important to avoid the wrong foods when it comes to inflammation. It's important to note that everyone's body is different, so these foods might affect people differently.
However, here are some common culprits to watch out for:
- Processed foods: Highly processed foods often contain additives, preservatives, and unhealthy oils that can trigger inflammation. They are typically low in nutrients and high in calories, contributing to weight gain, which can also lead to inflammation.
- Refined carbohydrates: Refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, and pastries have been stripped of their fiber and nutrients.They also cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels, contributing to inflammation and insulin resistance.
- Sugar: Consuming excessive sugar, such as in sugary drinks, fruit juice, candy, and desserts, can promote inflammation in the body. Sugar triggers the release of inflammatory messengers and can contribute to chronic inflammation over time.
- Seed oils: Seed oils like soybean, corn, canola, and sunflower oil are high in omega-6 fatty acids. An imbalance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids can cause inflammation in the body.
While it's okay to enjoy these foods in moderation, focusing on a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods and supplements can help reduce inflammation and promote overall health. Remember, small changes can make a big difference!
The Bottom Line
Your inflammatory response is important and it’s worth your attention. While inflammation in small amounts is healthy, chronic inflammation caused by an unhealthy diet, stress, and other lifestyle factors can add up over time. That’s why it’s important to lower inflammation and support a healthy inflammatory response with anti-inflammatory foods.
The choice to thrive is easy when you choose the supplements that were created with your body and your taste buds in mind. JOYÀ gives your body what it needs, so you can save your overthinking for other things. Like the one year you had bangs in high school. Or next year’s tax return.