The best anti-inflammatory foods to add to your diet
What do conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis have in common? Chronic inflammation. When you look at many chronic diseases that afflict humans, you’ll find that inflammation is a common underlying cause. Excess inflammation in the brain, gut, or other organs is often at the root of many health problems, and can result from eating inflammatory foods.
Chronic inflammation can also cause many symptoms that we typically associate with aging, including weight gain, fatigue, joint pain, headaches, and loss of appetite. Rather than relying on various medications to treat these symptoms, you may be able to mitigate them by eating a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods. This is why the Mediterranean diet, which incorporates many anti-inflammatory foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, fatty fish, and olive oil, is touted as one of the world’s healthiest long-term diets.
The dangers of inflammation in the body
Acute inflammation is the body’s response to injury or infection. In this capacity, inflammation means the immune system is using white blood cells to fight off the perceived threat. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, arises from factors such as eating an unhealthy diet, which can spark an inflammatory response inside the body. This can result in myriad health issues, including leaky gut syndrome and irritable bowel disease. Evidence is also showing that inflammation is related to conditions such as depression and contributes to premature aging of the cells.
Some of the biggest dietary causes of internal inflammation are wheat and dairy, as well as factory-farmed meat, sugar, soda and other sugary beverages, margarine, and fried foods.Fortunately, many foods with proven anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce inflammation in your system and help you maintain a healthy body and brain.
Incorporate these 10 foods in your diet for natural inflammation relief:
1. Leafy green vegetables
Some of the best foods to combat inflammation are any type of leafy green vegetables. Leafy greens such as cabbage, kale, mustard greens, and arugula contain important antioxidants, such as vitamins A and C, and anti-inflammatory flavonoids. The vitamins in leafy greens can protect the brain from inflammation-inducing issues such as oxidative stress and free radicals – two things that can negatively impact brain tissues, cognitive function, and mood. Some of the best greens for reducing inflammation include Swiss chard, bok choy, and spinach.
Broccoli has long been considered a vegetable superfood that boasts numerous health benefits. Eating more broccoli can boost your fiber, potassium, and collagen. It can help heal injuries and repair bones and other tissues. As an anti-inflammatory food, broccoli is invaluable for its antioxidant vitamin C, which fights off free radicals. It also contains vital flavonoids and carotenoids that combat oxidative stress and battle chronic inflammation.
Tomatoes are high in essential nutrients and vitamins that can fight inflammation in the body, including lycopene – an antioxidant with powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Lycopene may have the capacity to even combat several types of cancer linked to inflammatory compounds in the body. Tomatoes and tomato products are even better at reducing inflammation than lycopene supplements. Maximize the anti-inflammatory properties of tomatoes by cooking them in olive oil.
4. Olives and olive oil
Olives and olive oil have several impressive health benefits, ranging from lowering cholesterol to improving eye health. One great reason to eat more olives is for their high levels of the antioxidant oleuropein, which has powerful anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antimicrobial, and anti-cancer properties. Olives also contain the antioxidant vitamin A. Eating olives can also increase the body’s levels of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that helps combat free radicals and reduce inflammation. The body naturally produces glutathione, but levels begin to decline after the age of 20. Low levels of glutathione are linked to low energy and a weakened immune system, but eating olives can significantly increase levels in healthy adults.
5. Fatty fish
Fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids are excellent for lowering inflammation. Once the body metabolizes the fatty acids in fish, they turn into protectins and resolvins, which have anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that consuming certain fish – salmon in particular – can decrease inflammatory markers. The best fish to eat for anti-inflammatory benefits are anchovies, herring, mackerel, salmon, and sardines. Find fish that contain high levels of EPA and DHA, two fatty acids that fight inflammation.
Fruits such as pineapple, oranges, grapes, and cherries contain bromelain (a digestive enzyme that helps regulate the immune system’s response), anthocyanins, and catechins for reducing inflammation and detoxifying the body. Nearly all fruits combat inflammation since they are high in antioxidants.
Berries work in much the same way as other fruits, due to high levels of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are powerful anti-inflammatory compounds that give most berries their vibrant colors. Strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries all contain high levels of anthocyanins.
8. Nuts and seeds
Nuts are extremely nutrient-rich, with beneficial ingredients such as vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, L-arginine, and unsaturated fats. Nuts such as almonds or walnuts, as well as seeds like chia and flax, can fight inflammation with phytonutrients that are hard to find in other foods. Eating more nuts might even slow down the aging process. Eat a handful while you work or top your favorite salads and recipes with beneficial nuts to help reduce inflammation.
A great way to enjoy tastier healthy foods is to spice them up with certain herbs and spices. Turmeric is a powerful one, documented for its anti-inflammatory compounds. Turmeric contains curcumin – an anti-inflammatory compound that’s stronger than those found in aspirin and ibuprofen. Adding a dash of turmeric to your favorite recipes can help combat inflammation throughout the body and even lower the risk of arthritis.
You might know that ginger helps settle an upset stomach, but did you also know it’s great for reducing inflammation from immune responses? Ginger in any of its forms – fresh, dried, extracts, or supplements – warms the body and breaks down toxins that may accumulate in internal organs. It can also help cleanse the body’s lymphatic system and treat inflammation of the lungs, lowering the risk of asthma and allergies.
You can further reduce chronic inflammation through periodic, prolonged fasting. When followed for five consecutive days, the ProLon fasting mimicking diet has been shown to reduce risk factors such as blood pressure, inflammation, and cholesterol. ProLon is an all-inclusive meal program consisting of plant-based, polyphenol-rich foods such as olives, nuts, seeds, and vegetable soups. Learn more and find out if ProLon is right for you.