Inflammation is also called the silent killer. It is silent because as your body struggles with inflammation, it also does all it can to maintain balance. This means that symptoms are sometimes hard to decipher and can even be hidden for some time.
Inflammation can be a good thing
A little bit of inflammation is a good thing, a lot can be extremely dangerous. When we are injured or sick, the immune system jump into gear and brings an army of white blood cells to the area of concern by increasing blood flow. For instance, when you get a cut or a scrape it generally becomes puffy, red and hot. This is inflammation – more white blood cells have arrived to handle the situation. Acute inflammation is how the body responds to foreign pathogens – it protects us from harm.
or… a bad thing
However, when the immune system overreacts and begins to attack body tissues – it is a bad thing. Chronic inflammation can cause a host of symptoms such as skin problems, allergies, digestive disorder, neurological conditions, high blood pressure, diabetes, joint pain and autoimmune diseases. In fact, chronic inflammation is at the root of most modern diseases.
In a 2014 study done on patients with irritable bowel problems, it was found that those who consumed anti-inflammatory foods found enough relief to discontinue at least one of their medications.
While it is hard to avoid all causes of inflammation such as stress, infections, and environmental toxins, you can eat a healthy and balanced diet full of foods that fight chronic inflammation. Doing this while reducing the amount of processed foods in your diet.
Eating these top twenty-one anti-inflammatory foods will help your body be at its best.
1. Leafy Green Vegetables
Dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, collard greens, spinach, collard greens and Swiss chard all contain a plethora of antioxidants, carotenoids, flavonoids and vitamin C. All of these properties help protect against cellular damage. Eat greens raw, lightly steamed or juiced for best results.
Beets contain the antioxidant betalain that gives beets their rich color and anti-inflammatory properties. Beets fight inflammation at the cellular level and also repair damage using their high levels of potassium and magnesium. It has been found that magnesium deficiency is linked to inflammatory conditions. In addition, calcium is not processed well without magnesium. Consuming foods that contain magnesium such as beets helps the body process calcium found in other foods we eat. Eat beets fresh in salads, lightly steamed, sauteed or even fermented and enjoy all they have to offer.
Broccoli is loaded with potassium and magnesium in addition to a bounty of other antioxidants. All of these substances combine to produce a powerful anti-inflammatory arsenal. Vitamins, flavonoids and carotenoids work in harmony to reduce oxidative stress, reduce chronic inflammation and decrease the risk of cancer.
Besides being delicious and highly nutritious, pineapple contains bromelain, a digestive enzyme that regulates the immune response that creates unwanted inflammation. Pineapple is also good for your heart – bromelain fights blood clots and has been shown to stop blood platelets from sticking together or building up on blood vessel walls, thus reducing risk of a stroke or heart attack.
Pineapple also contains a rich supply of vitamin C, vitamin B1, potassium and manganese along with other antioxidants that keep inflammation and disease at bay.
Blueberries are extremely high in antioxidants and have been researched for their health benefits for the nervous system and brain. It is thought that they can improve memory and boost cognitive function. Blueberries are very low on the glycemic index making them an ideal snack or breakfast food. Other benefits of eating blueberries include a reduction in the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, improved eye health and cancer protection. Choose fresh and organic blueberries whenever possible.
While you may associate celery with low-calorie diets, it is actually a powerful addition to any anti-inflammatory diet. Celery contains vitamin C, beta-carotene, and manganese. However, its real therapeutic boost comes from the phytonutrients it contains. A number of these phytonutrients are known as phenolic antioxidants that have powerful anti-inflammatory characteristics. The best way to eat celery is raw.
7. Bok Choy
This member of the cabbage family has over twenty-one nutrients including omega-3s and the antioxidant mineral zinc. Studies have found over 70 antioxidant phenolic substances in this vegetables that are known as “chain-breaking” antioxidants because of how they gobble up free radicals.This vegetable is easy to work with and can be tossed into soups, stews and stir-frys.
These sweet little gems are an antioxidant superpower that have been shown to reduce the growth of the type of bacteria that causes inflammation in gum disease. Research has shown that there may be a connection between periodontal disease and heart disease. Interestingly enough, if you consume raisins you may reduce your risk of inflammation that causes periodontal disease and heart disease. Sprinkle raisins on salads, mix them with fresh nuts or just enjoy as a healthy snack on their own.
9. Fatty Fish
Oily fish including tuna, sardines, mackerel, herring, anchovies and salmon are all rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have demonstrated the potential to reduce inflammation. In order to reap the benefits of fatty fish you need to eat it several times a week and cook it in a healthy manner. This would include baking, steaming and lightly pan frying.
If fish is not your thing, consider a high-quality fish-oil supplement such as krill oil.
Not only is basil anti-microbial but it is also been found to be effective against inflammation that causes arthritis and bowel disease. The volatile oils in basil contain a compound known as eugenol, which acts the same way in the body as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications including ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Basil has been found to protect DNA from radiation and oxidative damage. The flavonoids orientin and vicenin protect the structure of cells and chromosomes against radiation and oxidation. Chop up fresh basil and use in all of your favorite soups, stews and salads. Basil is also an excellent addition to sauces and homemade pizza.
Ginger has a long standing tradition of being very effective in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. Ginger helps relax and soothe the intestinal tract and promotes elimination of intestinal gas. Research has revealed that ginger possesses a host of therapeutic properties including antioxidant effects and the ability to reduce the formation of inflammatory compounds. Cut fresh ginger and add it to your tea, smoothies, juices, soups and stew.
12. Sweet Potatoes
This root vegetable is a plentiful source of complex carbohydrates, beta-carotene, manganese, vitamins B6 and C. In addition it is loaded with fiber. Together these powerful antioxidant nutrients reduce inflammation and initiate the healing process throughout the body. Sweet potatoes are versatile enough that they can be incorporated into stews, soups and salads or eaten on their own. Use basil liberally in salads, soups, stews and rice dishes.
13. Tart Cherries
Tart cherries are high in natural antioxidants that help to reduce inflammation, especially inflammation associated with osteoarthritis. In one study, women who drank cherry juice showed a reduction in the level of inflammation throughout their body. This study agrees with a previous study conducted by the same researchers which showed that tart cherry juice could reduce pain in long-distance runners on the day of a race. in addition, runners who used tart cherry juice had less inflammation and a faster recovery of their muscle strength. Tart cherries have been found to have the “highest anti-inflammatory content of any food,” including antioxidant-rich foods such as blueberries and pomegranates. The best way to eat cherries is when they are ripe and fresh.
Although kelp is a staple in some diets, that is generally not the case in America. However, eating kelp helps you stay alkaline which promotes good overall health. In addition, kelp offers a rich supply of iodine and is also high in fiber. This aquatic vegetable contains fucoidan that provides the anti-inflammatory effects. If you have a hard time finding kelp, choose a high quality supplement instead. Use kelp in salads and soups or to make sushi.
If you have a hard time finding kelp, choose a high-quality supplement instead.
Walnuts are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, in fact, they are the richest of all nuts in this fatty acid. It is thought that walnuts inhibit the production of certain neurotransmitters that increase both pain and inflammation. Use walnuts on oatmeal, yogurt, in baking and as a healthy snack.
16. Green Tea
Green tea is often touted as the healthiest beverage on the planet. It is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that support healthy living and longevity. Green tea has been shown to improve brain health, lower the risk of cancer, boost metabolism, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, decrease belly fat and kill bacteria. That is a pretty impressive list for a simple cup of tea.
But wait, that is not all! A study done on elderly Japanese individuals found that those who drank the most green tea were 76% less likely to die during the 6 year study period. The anti inflammatory capabilities of green tea come from a compound called ECGC. Research shows that this compound has particular impacts on inflammation associated with joint pain.
17. Bone Broth
An old South American proverb says ” good broth will resurrect the dead.” Perhaps you remember your grandmother feeding you bone broth when you were sick. She had the right idea for sure. Bone broth is loaded with vitamins and minerals. Gelatin found in bone broth can heal your gut while chondroitin sulphates, glucosamine and other components extracted from boiled down cartilage reduce pain and inflammation. In addition, amino acids including glycine, proline, and arginine all contain anti-inflammatory properties that are helpful for reducing whole body inflammation. Be sure to make your bone broth from scratch for best results.
18. Coconut Oil
There is no doubt that you have heard something of the wonders of coconut oil. Its vast therapeutic properties have been celebrated by people of the tropics for a very long time. Coconut oil contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties found in its high content of lauric acid – the same ingredient found in human breast milk. Coconut oil boosts metabolism, has antibacterial, antifungal and antibacterial properties. Add coconut oil to tea, coffee, use it to cook with in exchange for any other oil. You can also use it externally as a moisturizer.
19. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds rank with the healthiest foods on earth. These tiny little seeds were an integral part of the Aztec and Mayan diet and have been revered for their ability to provide sustainable energy. Chia is actually the ancient Mayan word meaning strength. Recognized now as a superfood, chia seeds are loaded with fiber, protein, omega -3 fatty acids and a number of powerful micronutrients. The flavonoids and polyphenolic acids including quercetin, myricetin, kaempferol, and caffeic acids promote circulation and overall vascular health.
Not only do radishes add some zip to your favorite salad but they are a great source of vitamin C that helps keep disease at bay and protects cells from harmful free radicals. The electrolyte content combined with the powerful antioxidant capability of vitamin C, boosts immunity reduces inflammation and protects from a number of conditions including cancer, stroke and heart disease. Radishes also contain folate, fiber, riboflavin, and potassium. They are a good source of copper, vitamin B6, magnesium, manganese and calcium. Slice fresh radishes for salads, sandwiches or to enjoy as a delicious and nutritious snack.
21. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Virgin olive oil provides a rich supply of polyphenols that protect the heart and blood vessels from inflammation. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fats that are converted in the body to anti-inflammatory agents that lower the risk of conditions such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Drizzle olive oil on all of your favorite dishes. You can even make your own healthy salad dressing using olive oil as a base.
Anti – inflammatory Spices
In addition to a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, eat these spices for added benefit.
- Jamaican allspice
- Gourmet Italian spice
Add these foods to your diet, get plenty of sleep, drink enough water and move daily to reduce inflammation and keep harmful conditions at bay.