While some inflammation can be good in aiding our bodies, if inflammation hangs around for too long, it can cause some serious havoc.
Short-term inflammation can help our bodies in fighting small threats of infection or injury, but long-term inflammation can bring on chronic illness and infection.
On top of our bodies producing these various forms of inflammation (1) due to foreign invaders, we can also contribute to the problem if we’re not cautious.
When we take on high-stress environments, don’t exercise enough or consume an unhealthy diet, we are essentially causing our bodies more harm. Thankfully, we can help fight the inflammation battle by consuming some anti-inflammatory foods.
If you are looking at following an anti-inflammatory diet, you could be providing your body with the exact tools it needs to fight off infection and disease.
As Harvard Health states, “One of the most powerful tools to combat inflammation comes not from the pharmacy, but from the grocery store.” (2)
4 ANTI-INFLAMMATORY TIPS
Grab A Piece Of Fruit
Fruits like berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries), cherries and oranges are great anti-inflammatory foods. Although technically speaking, pretty much all fruit has anti-inflammatory compounds.
These compounds can include anthocyanin mainly found in berries, flavonoids found in oranges and even rutin found in bananas. On top of this, fruit also contains antioxidant compounds. These compounds too aid in inflammation as well as support immune function and reduce the risk of heart disease.
A good rule of thumb is to eat fruits first thing in the morning and avoid eating them after meals. This is due to its ease in our digestion. When we consume fruit after meals, we complicate our digestive system as fruit digest faster than cooked food. Often creating gas, bloating and other non-harmful discomforts.
Five Vegetables A Day
Just as most fruits are anti-inflammatory, most vegetables are too and consuming them consistently throughout the day will bring on many positive benefits.
Broccoli, bell peppers and chili peppers, mushrooms and green leafy vegetables are the ones you can focus on the most when it comes to anti-inflammation.
However, consuming a wide variety will increase not only your vitamin and mineral intake, but will aid in inflammation and oxidative stress. Just like the United States Dietary Guideline says, “consume five or more servings per day!” (3)
Drizzle On Some Olive Oil
Olive oil is not all created equal and if you are looking to add it to your diet, you’d be better off sticking to Extra Virgin Olive Oil, this is due to its process.
Extra virgin is the least processed options and the least refined type, meaning its antioxidants and vitamins are retained instead of being lost in the process.
The GI Society, a Canadian Society of Intestinal Research, states that in a 2005 study, scientists discovered “a chemical agent in newly pressed extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) which shares pharmacological properties with the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen.”
These findings propose that olive oil, consumed long-term, could be just as beneficial in anti-inflammatory properties as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. (4)
As a vital part of one of the healthiest diets in the world, the Mediterranean diet, it is perceived as the healthiest fat to consume. Be aware of quality when purchasing and remember to stick to extra virgin olive oil.
Turmeric, A Spice To Eat AND Drink
The anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric (5) have even been thought to be an Alzheimer's disease preventative, according to UCLA Health (6), but has also been linked to arthritis, diabetes and other diseases that form due to inflammation.
In Ayurvedic medicine (7), turmeric has been used as medicine for almost 4,000 years (8) and has been studied extensively throughout this time.
Along with uses in beauty and utilized for its color in cooking, it possesses an extensive list of health benefits. These include “rheumatoid arthritis, chronic anterior uveitis, conjunctivitis, skin cancer, smallpox, chickenpox, wound healing, urinary tract infections, and liver ailments.
It is also used for digestive disorders; to reduce flatus, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, and colic; for abdominal pain and distension; and for dyspeptic conditions including loss of appetite, postprandial feelings of fullness, and liver and gallbladder complaints.
It has anti-inflammatory, choleric, antimicrobial, and carminative actions.” (9) Making it a highly vital addition to your daily lifestyle.
One thing we must remember is that our bodies need to be able to absorb the benefits. As a spice in itself, this isn’t always easy to do. If you decide to cook with turmeric, make sure to cook with fats as turmeric is fat-soluble.
Golden milk is a very popular choice, however, if fat is something you are trying to watch, opt for turmeric tea. As long as you add some black pepper (10), you’ll be sure to absorb around 2,000% more. (11)
Enjoy Fatty Fish
If you are someone who enjoys fish like sardines, salmon, mackerel, anchovies, trout, tuna or herring, then you're in luck. These fatty fishes are great anti-inflammatory foods to consume. Essentially, it is the marine fatty acids that cause these positive effects.
The Arthritis Foundation, who speaks very highly of anti-inflammation diets to decrease risk or ease pain, states “Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are called marine fatty acids because they come from fish.
What makes these omega-3 sources worthwhile menu additions for people with arthritis is their ability to inhibit inflammation.
Omega-3s interfere with immune cells called leukocytes and enzymes known as cytokines, which are both key players in the body’s inflammatory response.” (12)
Foods To Avoid
As there are anti-inflammatory foods, there are also inflammatory foods and we can consider these all of our unhealthy choices.
Foods like packaged foods, high fat, salt and sugar foods, fried foods, refined carbohydrates, processed meats and trans fat foods are all to blame for excess inflammation. Stick to more natural foods and you’ll be doing your body a world of good.
Anti-inflammatory foods are great for decreasing the risk or preventing chronic disease. The great thing about following a diet such as this one is that it’s not about restriction, but developing a healthy lifestyle with foods that can be incredibly delicious.
Work to add these anti-inflammatory foods into your diet and watch your health thank you for it.