5 Ways Plants Reduce Inflammation in Humans
We talk a lot about the optimization of plant growth here at ZEA. Today, however, we wanted to shift our perspective and discuss how the plants we grow can optimize us. Specifically, how the consumption of plant-based foods, supplements, and medications reduce inflammation and boost our overall health.
Inflammation is a very general term. In short, it is the body’s natural reaction to foreign irritants. Whenever your internal biology recognizes something that doesn’t belong (i.e. pathogens, chemicals, and damaged cells) your immune system can become triggered causing the infected/affected area to become inflamed. This temporary condition – especially if left untreated – can persist and become chronic. Chronic inflammation is at the root of some of the world’s most pervasive illnesses. Heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and even depression have been linked to perpetual inflammation.
Fortunately, there are a vast array of plants and natural products that can help us combat and prevent chronic inflammation. These plants can be easily ingested as food or in pill form and have a proven biological effect on your body. Here is how they can help you.
1. Promoting a Healthy Microbiome
A recent study from Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital found that eating certain plants promotes gut microbes and lower subjects’ risk for inflammation-related illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. Plants nourish the trillions of living organisms inside your digestive system which helps your body maintain healthy post-meal levels of blood sugar and blood fats. Remember, when you eat, you’re not just feeding yourself, you’re also feeding your microbiome.
2. Increased Metabolism
There are dozens of plants and plant-based supplements that can help boost your metabolism. Ginseng, green tea, schisandra berries, cinnamon, ashwagandha, even black pepper. These plants rev up your energy production at the cellular level which helps your body absorb food and maintain a sound BMI. Healthy body weight reduces your risk of obesity-related inflammation, joint pain, and cardiovascular issues. Furthermore, the stimulation of metabolic enzymes by eating plants has a direct effect on certain inflammatory responses.
3. Increased Blood Flow
There is a class of plants that are known as “vasodilators.” They contain phytochemicals that stimulate the release of nitric oxide and other compounds that expand your veins and help blood circulate throughout your body. Improving your circulation is a great way to reduce your risk of inflammation-related conditions, namely heart disease. Some plants that improve your blood flow are cayenne peppers, beets, pomegranates, onions, garlic, ginger, leafy greens (rich in nitrates), berries, nuts, citrus fruits, and tomatoes.
4. Improved Mental Wellbeing
Believe it or not, there are plants that can chemically make you happier. And, as studies show, happiness has been found to reduce inflammation. Bananas, for example, contain tryptophan: a protein that our bodies turn into serotonin which relaxes us and improves our mood. Peanuts, oats, and chocolate also have high levels of tryptophan. Apples and prunes contain smaller but still detectable amounts of the protein. Eating healthy plants that make you happy is one great way to prevent inflammation.
5. Eliminating Toxins
Antioxidants do more than improve our blood flow, they also protect our cells from the inflammatory effects of free radicals. One vegetable that is particularly rich in detoxifying phytonutrients is broccoli. Schisandra berries also contain powerful antioxidants that stimulate the immune system and protect the liver.
Some of the most potent anti-inflammatories don’t come from a pharmacy, they can be found at any grocery store or farmers market. One of the best ways to reduce your risk for inflammation is to commit to an overall healthy diet that is rich in plants. The next step is to educate yourself on the underlying chemical properties of these plants and why they’re good for you. This will help you tailor a diet and supplementary regiment that makes sense for your unique biology.
Thanks for reading,