The 5 Best Foods to Fight Inflammation
Did you know that an overwhelming amount of chronic disease stems from chronic inflammation in the body? And with that notion, many conditions can be prevented by addressing and taking steps to reduce inflammation within the body.
Inflammation is actually a naturally occurring process within the body, designed to help the body heal from injury or disease. It is triggered by the immune system in response to a perceived threat, such as a cut or an illness. Acute inflammation, which occurs over a usually short period of time, is a beneficial tool that helps to return your body to it’s healthiest state. However chronic inflammation, which occurs over an extended period (and is often less intense) is the kind that is linked to autoimmune conditions, prolonged stress, and debilitating disease.
After all, it is understood that chronic disease stems from chronic inflammation within the body. There is sufficient evidence to now show that heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and even obesity can be influenced by this prolonged immune response. So by addressing the root cause, we begin to adopt a holistic, preventative approach to healthcare. And one of the best ways we know how to remedy and reduce inflammation in the body is with proper nutrition and using the medicinal properties of food. After extensive research, I’ve discovered that these are the best foods to fight inflammation - for all diets!
1. Turmeric (Get That Golden Goodness)
Golden lattes aren’t going anywhere and I, for one, am happy that they’re here to stay. Partly because of how delicious they are, and partly because turmeric is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatories in our diet. This is due to curcumin, a compound found in the root that is responsible for the vibrant (often staining) yellow pigment we’ve all come to associate with turmeric. The exact mechanisms that determine how curcumin works in the body are still yet to be understood, but there are countless studies across different chronic health conditions that re-instate this belief. So from curries to coffee substitutes, don’t forget to add a healthy dose of turmeric to your day (and remember to add cracked black pepper, as the compounds found in pepper are needed to help deliver the health benefits of curcumin).
2. Fatty Fish & Flaxseeds (Hello Omega-3s)
We’ve been told time and time again how important a balanced intake of omega-3s is important for brain health, but there’s so much more to it than simply supporting the brain. Omega-3s are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acids, structurally signified by their double bonds between carbon atoms. These fats, which are crucial for good health, can reduce the production of molecules and substances linked to inflammation, such as inflammatory eicosanoids and cytokines. There is even consistent peer-reviewed evidence that highlights the relationship between high intakes of fatty acids and reduced inflammation throughout the body. No matter your dietary preferences, there’s even more of a case to add omega-3-rich foods to your plate.
Plant-based Tip: Flaxseed or linseed oil is an alternative to fatty fish, that’s easy to use in everything from daily smoothies to salad dressings. It’s quite fragrant, so start small, and you’ll be all over the rewards in no time.
3. Leafy Green Vegetables
We know that leafy greens are ideal for alkalizing and detoxifying the body, but they also offer anti-inflammatory benefits. Greens like kale, arugula, silverbeet, spinach, chard, and collard greens, to name a few, offer a rich nutritional profile with high concentrations of micronutrients that reduce chronic inflammation in the body. Vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are the four fat-soluble vitamins, have shown across multiple studies that they can fight inflammation. A lot of leafy greens also partially breakdown to contain alpha-linolenic acid, which is one type of omega-3 fat (and we know how wonderful that is for inflammation)!
4. Extra-Virgin Cold-Pressed Olive Oil
No kitchen is complete without cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil. If possible, organic is best here too. But what sets this apart from your regular olive oil? It’s the first extraction from the olive, done without any heat or chemicals that destroy the integrity of this amazing plant. Extra virgin olive oil has widespread health benefits, including improving heart health, promoting brain function, potential anti-cancer benefits, and it can also handle moderately high temperatures without oxidating. The best thing about olive oil is that most of these incredible benefits come from the anti-inflammatory properties of the food. Olive oil is rich in oleic acid, which studies have shown reduces inflammation and may even have beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer, alongside powerful antioxidants like oleocanthal, which has actually been shown to work similarly to ibuprofen - only naturally!
5. Blueberries & Pomegranates
It’s not just the traditionally healthy foods that claim all of the amazing health benefits; there are fun foods that contain anti-inflammatory properties too! Take blueberries, for instance, which are loved as a natural source of antioxidants. The major antioxidant, anthocyanin, is what gives this berry it’s gorgeous deep blue color and is largely thought to be responsible for the anti-inflammatory capabilities, along with the high fiber and vitamins A, C, and E content. Pomegranates, not unlike blueberries, are also often enjoyed for the antioxidants they contain. One of these antioxidants, punicalagin, has potent anti-inflammatory properties with studies showing that they can reduce inflammation in the digestive tract, as well as in breast and colon cancer cells.
So if you’ve ever needed an excuse to keep eating more of your favorite foods, let this be it. These are just some of the best foods to fight inflammation, and ongoing research is telling us there is plenty more. Of course, all foods should be consumed in moderation in a healthy, balanced diet, but as always, try to include these plants-as-medicine foods at any opportunity!
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