People all over the world have achieved optimal health and recovered from chronic illness or disease by simply choosing to change their diet. This being said, many have chosen to eat mainly anti-inflammatory foods. An anti-inflammatory diet consists of foods that reduce inflammatory responses such as berries, leafy greens and whole, nutrient-rich foods. This diet also involves removing sugary, refined foods that causes our body to respond with inflammation such as: processed meats, sugar and fried foods. Avoiding these foods and eating more wholesome foods will help you maintain your optimal health.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is vital part of the immune system. It is a physiological response from the immune system to injury and infection within the body. It is the body’s way of signaling the immune system to heal and repair damaged tissue, as well as defend itself against foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria. Without inflammation wounds would fester, and infections could become fetal.
However, if the inflammatory process goes on for too long or if the inflammatory response occurs in places where it is not needed, it can become problematic. Chronic inflammation has been linked to certain diseases such as heart disease or stroke, and may also lead to autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. But a healthy diet and lifestyle can help keep inflammation under control.
Top 10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods
1. Olive Oil
Chronic inflammation is thought to be a leading driver of diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, arthritis and even obesity.
Extra-virgin olive oil has been proven to reduce inflammation. The anti-inflammatory effects are mediated by the antioxidants have been shown to work similarly to ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug. Research also suggests that oleic acid, the main fatty acid in olive oil, can reduce levels of important inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein.
2. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, chard, arugula, endive, turnip greens, beet greens, and collard greens all contain significant concentrations of vitamins and other nutrients that have been found to reduce chronic inflammation. Vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K, just to name a few, have all shown, in research, that they can fight inflammation. Try making a dark green salad for lunch with protein or a side dish at dinner! Also, broccoli is one of the best sources of sulforaphane, an antioxidant with powerful anti-inflammatory effects
3. Nuts & Seeds
Many nuts and seeds are a good source of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which lower cholesterol and reduce the heart disease risks that are high in people with certain types of arthritis (joint inflammation). They also are a good source of protein and antioxidant vitamins, minerals and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid.
Some nuts are rich in magnesium, l-arginine and vitamin E, which may play a role in keeping inflammation under control.
Studies have shown that people who eat a diet high in these nutrients tend to have lower levels of some inflammation-causing molecules that circulate in the bloodstream and higher levels of the anti-inflammatory protein adiponectin compared with those who consumed less. A variety of nuts make the perfect snack on the go, slip them into a stir-fry or sprinkle them on a salad! They are very versatile and make an excellent addition to maintain a healthy diet, especially those that have arthritis (joint inflammation).
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are called marine fatty acids because they come from fish. These omega-3 sources have the ability to inhibit inflammation. Omega-3’s interfere with immune cells called leukocytes and enzymes known as cytokines, which are both key players in the body’s inflammatory response.
When deciding between wild-caught or farm-raised, choose wild. Studies has shown that farmed-raised fish contain higher levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s) and other contaminants that have been linked to cancer. Another concern is that farm-raised fish might contain fewer omega-3 fatty acids than wild. However, fish in general contain omega-3 fatty acids and that is essential in an anti-inflammatory diet.
7. Dark Chocolate
Avocados are packed with potassium, magnesium, fiber and healthy monounsaturated fats.They also contain carotenoids and tocopherols, which are linked to reduced cancer risk. A compound found in avocados may reduce inflammation in young skin cells.
10. Green Tea
Green tea is known to reduce risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and other conditions. Many of its benefits are due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, especially a substance called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).
Sources: What is inflammation? – Live Science; 11 Proven Benefits of Olive Oil – Health Line; Leafy Greens: Inflammation Fighters! – www.oldwayspt.com – Best Nuts and Seeds for Arthritis – Arthritis Foundation; 13 Most Anti-Inflammatory Foods – Health Line; Best Fish for Arthritis – Arthritis Foundation.
The Health Effects of Turmeric and Curcumin – Promising Results, Tasty Meals by Gerard Paul at manyeats.com