There is a common denominator in diseases like asthma, arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). What is it? It’s inflammation.
Inflammation is a contributor and it is at the root of these and many other diseases.
The good news – there is a cure. All it takes is a few long-term lifestyle changes.
We can alleviate the problem by eating more anti-inflammatory foods. Not only can the symptoms of these diseases be lessened, an anti-inflammatory diet could be enough to deliver a cure in many cases.
Anti-Inflammatory Foods Transform Your Health
Inflammation isn’t always a bad thing. It can be the result of a healthy immune response to an injury. The lymphatic system springs to action when the body is ill or injured and brings more white blood cells to the injured area.
With the increase in blood flow comes a bit of heat, some redness and swelling and a bit of discomfort or possibly pain. You’ve probably seen this in response to a cut or scrape. This type of inflammation is a normal and effective process that facilitates healing.
Inflammation Can Get Out Of Control
The immune system can sometimes overreact and begin attacking healthy body tissues. We see this in autoimmune disorders like leaky gut. It also occurs in cases of arthritis, fibromyalgia and irritable bowel disease (IBD).
An Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Most American diets are a poor choice by any standard. Packaged foods and takeout foods promote obesity and inflammation. Our over-indulgence in salt, sugar and fat puts a toll on the immune system. Throw in too many artificial sweeteners, gluten, and genetically modified foods and we have the perfect storm that causes an overreaction by our immune system. (1)
The cure is to stop eating overly processed foods and start cooking healthy meals at home. When you do eat out, make sure you choose a restaurant that serves healthy meals much as you would serve at home.
To reduce inflammation it is important that you consume an abundance of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains. The chemicals and meat additives found in processed foods are a sure way to spark an iflammatory response from your immune system. (2)
Fresh produce on the other hand, contains a number of anti-inflammatory compounds and should be part of your diet.
The following categories stand out as beneficial when attacking inflammation and inflammatory diseases at their source:
- Antioxidant foods
- Essential fatty acids
The regular consumption of fruit, vegetables and whole wheat is inversely associated with the risk of inflammation. The bioactive compounds in plant foods, primarily carotenoids and flavonoids, act to modulate inflammatory and immunological processes. (3)
Top 10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods
You can begin to repair your body by regularly eating anti-inflammatory foods that fight inflammation and restore health at a cellular level. Let’s take a look at 10 foods you can add to your diet to reduce inflammation:
(1) Leafy Green Vegetables
The produce drawer is the first spot in your refrigerator or pantry to fill when fighting inflammation. Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants that restore cellular health, as well as anti-inflammatory flavonoids. Swiss chard for example is very high in vitamin A and C. It is also a good source of vitamin K, which can protect your brain against oxidative stress caused by free radical damage.
(2) Bok Choy (Chinese Cabbage)
Bok Choy is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Bok Choy contains over 70 antioxidant phenolic substances including hydroxycinnamic acids that scavenge free radicals. Get creative and use it in all sorts of dishes and stir fries.
Celery contains both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Even celery seeds have impressive health benefits and can help lower inflammation and fight bacterial infections. Celery is an excellent source of potassium, antioxidants and vitamins.
A deep color is a usually an indicator that the food has a lot of antioxidants. Beets are a prime example! Antioxidants fight to repair the cell damage caused by inflammation. Beets contain the antioxidant betalain which is what gives them their signature color. Beets also contain high levels of inflammation-fighting potassium and magnesium. (4)
Broccoli is the poster vegetable for healthy eating and it belongs in an anti-inflammatory diet. Broccoli is high in both potassium and magnesium and it contains key vitamins, flavonoids and carotenoids. These work together to lower oxidative stress in the body and help battle both chronic inflammation and the risk of developing cancer.
Quercetin is an especially strong anti-inflammatory. Quercetin is a flavonoid that is found in citrus, olive oil and dark-colored berries. It fights inflammation and even cancer. (5)Foods like blueberries can help slow cognitive decline and improve memory and motor function by protecting the body from oxidative stress and reducing inflammation.
Quercetin is often paired with bromelain (a digestive enzyme) when it is purchased in supplement form. Pineapple contains bromelain and is known to regulate the immune response that so often creates inflammation.Pineapple also helps improve heart health because bromelain can fight blood clotting; it is nature’s answer to taking an aspirin a day to lower the risk of heart attack.Pineapple provides a good supply of vitamin C, B1, potassium and manganese and other phytonutrients that work as well as many medicines do to reduce symptoms of some of the most common illnesses we see today. (6)
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered to be one of the most potent anti-inflammatory substances and salmon is an excellent source. Getting your anti-inflammatories from foods reduces the need for anti-inflammatory medications. (7)Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and in doing so, may help lower risk of chronic diseases like arthritis, heart disease and even cancer. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function. (8)Always buy fresh fish – farmed species do not contain the same nutrients and do not offer the same health benefits.
(9) Bone broth
The main benefit of eating natural foods is they contain minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon and sulphur in forms your body can easily absorb. Bone broth also contains chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine. These are often purchased in supplement form to reduce inflammation, arthritis and joint pain. Natural is always better and is usually much cheaper.Bone broth can help heal a leaky gut because it contains collagen and the amino acids proline and glycine that can help heal the damaged cell walls of the inflamed gut.
(10) Coconut oil
The high levels of antioxidants in virgin coconut oil were shown to reduce inflammation and help heal arthritis more effectively than leading medications. (9)
Avoid Inflammatory Foods
As you begin to consume anti-inflammatory foods, you should also begin to eliminate pro-inflammatory foods.
The most common substances that cause inflammation in the body are saturated fats and trans fatty acids. This duo is commonly found in processed foods and is known to cause inflammation and increase the risk for obesity, diabetes and heart conditions.
Refined sugars and refined carbohydrates are next on the list. Replace refined grains with whole grains and try to reduce your consumption of refined sugars as much as possible.
Finally, establish a regular routine of physical activity. An active life fueled by fresh, whole anti-inflammatory foods can set you free from inflammation.