Who can resist holiday foods? The time of year where at least five meals per day with triple helpings is actively encouraged. And what food! Gingerbread, cheese boards, sweets… the fuel of dreams. But while it’s enough to turn anyone into a kid in a candy store, have you ever stopped to think about the impact that your indulgent holiday diet could have on your PsA?
We’re not suggesting depriving yourself of your favourite holiday treats, but there are a few simple food swaps which may help keep flares at bay. You see, the simple cause of PsA flare ups is inflammation in the body, and there are certain nutrients which have been shown to help stop this inflammation in its tracks. Simply put; eating certain foods could help you reduce your chances of symptoms striking, leaving you to enjoy a flare-free holiday:
Stuffing your stuffing
Boosting your stuffing with extra nuts and berries not only makes an even tastier dish, it transforms it into a superfood which could help to manage inflammation and thus PsA symptoms. Walnuts are a delicious addition packed with Omega-3 and polyphenols to help reduce inflammation,[i] and fresh cranberries can also help lower the levels of inflammatory proteins thanks to their high levels of flavonoids, vitamin C and magnesium.[ii]
Sprouts covered in maple syrup and bacon may be a delicious and traditional side dish, but there are other greens that could be much more effective when trying to keep flare-ups away. Spinach, kale and broccoli are packed with vitamins K and E, as well as carotenoids and flavonoids, powerful antioxidants that reduce inflammation. [iii]So make like Popeye and fill up on the good stuff!
Garlic is packed with natural antibiotics so is good for helping cure anything from curing colds to cardiovascular health![iv] If you experience skin and joint flare ups then garlic is even more of a hero, as it’s contains sulphuric compounds that can help stop the activity of enzymes responsible for inflammation[v]. Try tossing greens in garlic butter or adding it to roast potatoes to give your Christmas dinner a tasty twist.
Extra virgin olive oil
A key component to the Mediterranean diet, have you ever wondered what makes olive oil taste so delicious? It contains a compound called oleocanthal, which isn’t found in any other form of oil. Oleocanthal doesn’t just taste unique; studies have actually found that it can have a similar effect as NSAID painkillers in the body, making extra virgin olive oil the perfect choice of oil for roasting your Christmas dinner.[vi]
Cherry pie for pudding
Fun fact: Some researchers believe that tart cherries have the “highest anti-inflammatory content of any food”. Research has shown that their rich antioxidant content can help reduce inflammation, pain and discomfort after exercise.[vii] We know that they’re technically a summer staple, but most supermarkets will stock frozen cherries, which make the perfect pie filling to round off your festive feast. A health reason to reach for a second helping of dessert? Who could resist!
Happy Holiday’s from everyone at PsA and Me – eat, drink and be merry! :)
[i] Ruggiero C, Lattanzio F, Lauretani F, Gasperini B, Andres-Lacueva C, Cherubini A. (2009) Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and immune-mediated diseases: inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Curr Pharm Des. 2009;15(36):4135-48. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20041815
[ii] E. Pappas and K. M. Scheich (2009) Phytochemicals of Cranberries and Cranberry Products: Characterization, Potential Health Effects, and Processing Stability Critical Reviews In Food Science And Nutrition49(9), http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408390802145377
[iii] Ciccone, M. M., Cortese, F., Gesualdo, M., Carbonara, S., Zito, A., Ricci, G., … Riccioni, G. (2013). Dietary Intake of Carotenoids and Their Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Effects in Cardiovascular Care. Mediators of Inflammation, 2013, 782137. http://doi.org/10.1155/2013/782137
[iv] Leyla Bayan1, Peir Hossain Koulivand1, Ali Gorki (2013) Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects Avicenna J Phytomed 4 (1): 1-14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4103721/pdf/ajp-4-001.pdf
[v] Lee, D. Y., Li, H., Lim, H. J., Lee, H. J., Jeon, R., & Ryu, J.-H. (2012). Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Sulfur-Containing Compounds from Garlic. Journal of Medicinal Food, 15(11), 992–999. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3491620/
[vi] Parkinson L, Keast R, (2014) Oleocanthal, a phenolic derived from virgin olive oil: a review of the beneficial effects on inflammatory disease Int J Mol Sci 15(7):12323-34 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25019344
[vii] Coelho Rabello Lima L, Oliveira Assumpção C, Prestes J, Sérgio Denadai B.(2015) CONSUMPTION OF CHERRIES AS A STRATEGY TO ATTENUATE EXERCISE-INDUCED MUSCLE DAMAGE AND INFLAMMATION IN HUMANS.Nutr Hosp. Nov 1;32(5):1885-93. doi: 10.3305/nh.2015.32.5.9709. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26545642