If you don’t want to become another statistic, working on improving the amount of foods that fight inflammation in your daily diet is a great place to start. We’re going to tell you about 10 foods that fight inflammation so that you can reduce inflammation in the body and prevent chronic disease so that you can take responsibility of your health and fight disease along the way.
What Is Inflammation
Inflammation is one of the biggest precursors to chronic disease and declining overall health in our society that cut our lives short. Over 71 million people have cardiovascular diseases [R] 24 million people in the USA have arthritis [R], close to 30 million have hay fever [R], and over 21 million people have osteoarthritis. [R] These diseases are all too common and each one can be directly linked back to chronic and systemic inflammation in the body and lead up to over $100 billion dollars annually for Americans.
Inflammation is a modern-day disease. In general, inflammation is the body’s natural response to protect and heal the body. You can think of it as a defunct mechanism that the body naturally has for when you burn, cut, get a virus or injury yourself so that the body can focus on healing the area. Think of it like a little tent that surrounds the emergency services - it provides a safe space for your body to do its job. After the injury or cut is healed, the inflammation should remove the tent and leave the area. However, sometimes that doesn’t happen, which leads to chronic inflammation.
Is inflammation good or bad for you? Great question! The food that we eat has the ability to positively and/or negatively impact our overall health. It can produce inflammation and it can reduce it. When we eat a lot of processed foods, lots of saturated fats, processed sugars, have too much body fat, don’t exercise regularly, or smoke, our bodies are under constant attack from what we’re deciding to put in it. [R] Yikes! This called silent, low-grade, or chronic inflammation.
Dietary inflammation leads to silent inflammation and trust us, it has a very sneaky way of finding its way into places it doesn’t belong. Often we do not feel systemic inflammation in the body, which is the most dangerous part. Until it becomes quite overwhelming in the body, we often do not feel any pain or signs associated with it. This is the type of inflammation that is connected to declining health issues, chronic disease, and long-term injury. [R]
Why Is Inflammation Bad?
Studies suggest that chronic inflammation supports chronic disease, autoimmune diseases, acne, allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, and numerous age-related degenerations (macular, wrinkles, muscle wasting, etc.). Other indicators of inflammation are increased risk of depression, [R] certain cancers (gynecological [R], urological [R], colorectal [R]), and even mortality. [R] The good thing is that you can actually reduce inflammation with an anti-inflammatory diet or anti-inflammatory lifestyle that incorporates quality food sources. Thats the power for foods that fight inflammation to have on our overall health and wellness.
Which Foods Fuel Inflammation
Processed and refined foods are packed with inflammatory ingredients that work against us our bodies and not with them. Foods that cause the most inflammation are sugar (especially high-fructose corn syrup), artificial trans fats, vegetable and seed oils, refined and simple carbohydrates, drinking alcohol in excess and overly processed meats. Foods that fight inflammation are often cheap and man made, which makes sense when you think about our bodies not being able to appropriately process them. If you’re confused on if you’re eating an inflammatory food, then take a look at the ingredients list. If it has a lot of salt, refined sugar, artificial flavors/colors, additives, preservatives, and/or refined flour, put it back.
Some other foods that fuel inflammation:
- Candy bars
- Nightshades (tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, potatoes)
- Refined carbohydrates
- White bread
- White/processed Crackers
- White Pasta
- Processed Cookies
- Processed Cakes
- Soft Drinks
- Lunch meats
- Microwave popcorn
Get More Of The Right Foods To Fight Inflammation
In order to make changes sustainable and maintainable, we recommend taking an anti-inflammatory approach in stride. Remember that it won’t happen overnight and that it may be difficult at times to be aware of or to make changes for. As we age or participate in different things throughout life, our nutritional demands change. What worked for you as a kid might not work for you as an adult, and you know what? That is ok.
We recommend experimenting and trying to note which foods make you feel good, energize you, and make you feel well, as well as take note of the foods that don’t make you feel so good when you eat them. Challenge yourself - are you eating the donut because you have an emotional connection to it, or because it’s actually going to make you feel good? When you can emotionally connect to your decisions, you can begin to understand your habits and decisions, and change them with quality, not just quantity.
Switching to an anti-inflammatory lifestyle tips:
- Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables daily
- Incorporate healthy snacks between meals
- Drink water regularly
- Talk to your healthcare professional
- Use high quality supplements (collagen, turmeric, krill oil, multivitamin)
- Get regular exercise
- Get quality sleep
Which Foods Fight Inflammation
If you’re looking for foods to eat that reduce inflammation, then you’ve come to the right place. Most of these foods you may already eat or at least see at the store. We recommend trying, cooking, and experimenting with them in different ways. Try some new recipes, find what works for you. That’s the most important part here. The good news is that while on a journey to find out which foods fight inflammation for you, there’s a lot of nutrients to be consumed along with it. You’re going to save money, feel better, and perform better. Now who wouldn’t want that!?
1. Berries and Cherries
There are tons of berries out there on the market, but the most common of them are blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Another great anti-inflammatory food is cherries. These fruits all have antioxidants called anthocyanin which have anti-inflammatory properties and fight free radical damage in the body. [R]
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You’ve probably heard of truffle mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, and shiitake mushrooms. But did you know that there are literally thousands of different mushroom varieties around the world? That's a lot of food variety to fight inflammation. The ones you can get in the store are extremely low in calories and pack an impressive nutrient profile, including all of the b-vitamins, copper, and selenium. Something that’s unique to mushrooms are the phenols and the antioxidants that provide anti-inflammatory protection. [R] Newer to the market are lion’s mane mushrooms, which some studies are suggesting help reduce obesity related inflammation in the body, but more research needs to be done. [R]
Avocados are a must for an anti-inflammatory diet because they’re packed with monounsaturated fats for your heart as well as other nutrients like magnesium, fiber, and potassium. Not to mention, vitamin C, A, E, and B. They’re one of the best foods that fight inflammation. [R]
These are one of the best foods that fight inflammation specifically because of lycopene, a natural carotenoid found in them. It’s not only great for your heart but it also works within the body to fight inflammation. [R]
5. Omega-3s From Krill Oil
Krill Oil is derived from tiny shrimp-like crustaceans that reside at the bottom of the oceanic food chain in the Antarctic Ocean. We recommend Krill Oil supplements over Fish Oil because Krill oil has been shown to be absorbed 68% better than fish oil [R] thereby suggesting that the Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats in Krill Oil are more bioavailable than Fish Oil. [R] Krill Oil also contains the world's most powerful antioxidant Astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is a carotenoid: an antioxidant which helps fights the build-up of free radicals and suppress the signs of aging. This product makes a great supplement to an anti-inflammatory diet and is considered to be one of the best foods that fight inflammation.
Grapes are a great food that fights inflammation because they contain anthocyanin, which helps to reduce inflammation. [R] They also have resveratrol which increases the possibility of reducing adiponectin, a hormone associated with weight gain. [R]
7. Green Vegetables
Those leafy green vegetables that you probably don’t eat often are incredible foods to fight inflammation due to their deep vitamin profile and anti-inflammatory properties. They contain something called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which is an omega-3 fat known for its anti-inflammatory benefits. [R] Aim to choose darker greens (the more nutrients they contain) and pair them with an olive oil based dressing for the best nutrient absorption.
8. Oily Fish
Fatty fish contains a wonderful amount of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Some of the most common are turbot, salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, anchovies, Atlantic bluefish, Pacific oysters and squid. [R] We recommend not using any fish or seafood that is breaded in the frozen section, as these often have inflammatory oils and ingredients added to them.
RELATED: What are omega-3s good for?
In addition to chronic inflammation, several studies have been initiated to define Turmeric’s unique role and mechanism of action on arthritic pain, specifically joint inflammation and mobility by reducing joint swelling. In vivo animal studies, have shown that curcuminoids contribute to anti-arthritic effects, helping to reduce joint swelling and inflammation, up to 48% [R ,R]
This can be especially beneficial for athletes and active individuals to help reduce exercise-induced inflammation and promote faster recovery. Often times, joints can produce inflammation from stress-related movements and can result in pain and discomfort, and result in further stress-related injury.
10. Green Tea
Chances are that you’ve hear green tea is an extremely health beverage to regularly consume. Have you ever asked why? The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties contribute to this claim, specifically epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).[R] This unique substance reduces inflammation in the body by reducing something called cytokine production, a pro-inflammatory, that damages fatty acids in the cells within your body. [R]
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Foods That Fight Inflammation: Takeaway
Inflammation is directly linked to numerous chronic diseases, declining health, and age-related declining health issues. If you can control what you put into your body to reduce inflammation, why not do it? The foods that fight inflammation are common and generally easily accessible. You can use them in quite a few different ways, including in sauces, smoothies, breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. If you start now by eating the foods that fight inflammation, then you’ll not just support your health now, but your longterm health and disease prevention. Sounds pretty achievable when we put it that way, right!?
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