A little inflammation can be ok, and acute inflammation is the body's response to get rid of pathogens that have entered your body. They will protect your body from harm. However, chronic inflammation has been tied to everything from allergies and acne, to intestinal issues, autoimmune diseases, neurological disorders and joint pain.
Unless you're living in a bubble, it is hard to avoid inflammation from all sources including sugar, saturated fats, infections, stress and environmental toxins. However, you can have a balance by eating foods that reduce inflammation. Some powerhouse foods can not only provide nutrients and energy, but fight free radicals and toxins which can trigger inflammation. Here we recommend top 10 anti-inflammation foods which will be great to include in your diet!
1. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish, such as tuna, mackerel, sardines and salmon, are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Study shows that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation and may help reduce risk of heart disease, arthritis and even cancer. Oily fish are good sources of this and should be a part of your inflammation diet.
Eat salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, sardines packed in olive oil or water and black cod (butter fish or sablefish) 2 times per week or more. And remember to cook the fish in healthy ways, such as boiled and baked as opposed to dried, fried or salted.If you absolutely don't like fish, you can take fish-oil supplements to get the needed omega-3 fatty acids.
2. Whole Grains
When you eat most of your grains as whole grains instead of refined like cereal, white bread, pasta and rice, you can keep your inflammation at bay easily. The reason is that the fiber in whole grains has been known to lower levels of C-reactive protein, which can promote inflammation in the blood. And whole grains usually have less added sugar which can trigger the release of cytokines, the messengers of inflammation.
So always look for foods that have whole grains as the first ingredient, and also no sugars added for other foods that reduce inflammation.
3. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Vitamin E may play a key part in protecting the body from releasing cytokines, as some studies have suggested. One of the best sources of vitamin E is dark green veggies, including kale, spinach, collard greens and broccoli. Cruciferous vegetables and dark greens usually have higher concentrations of minerals and vitamins such as iron, calcium and disease-fighting phytochemicals than veggies with lighter-colored leaves.
The carotenoids and flavonoids which give the color to leafy greens are antioxidants, an important part of an inflammation-fighting diet. You can add these dark green veggies to some dishes, green smoothie or salad to make an anti-inflammatory diet.
Another great source of foods that reduce inflammation are nuts. Almonds in particular are rich in vitamin E, calcium and fiber, while walnuts have large amounts of alpha-linoleic acid, a kind of omega-3 fat. However, all nuts are full of antioxidants, which can assist your body in fighting off and repairing any damage from inflammation. Nuts, leafy greens, fish and whole grains are a huge part of the Mediterranean diet, which has been known to lower inflammation.
Eat nuts by the handful per day or several times a week. You can also bake nuts or add them in salads, throw some on top of low-fat yogurt, etc.
5. Low-Fat Dairy
Sometimes milk products are thought to be a trigger for inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, because some people have intolerances or allergies to casein, which is the protein present in dairy products. For people who can drink milk, however, non-fat and low-fat milk is an important source of anti-inflammatory diet. Yogurt also contains probiotics, which can help reduce gut inflammation. Besides, low-fat dairy is also an important source of vitamin D and calcium for bone strength, and possibly a reduction of cancer.
6. Ginger and Turmeric
Commonly found in Indian and Asian cooking, these spices are known to have anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric gives curry its yellow color, and works in the body by assisting in turning off NF-kappa B which can trigger inflammation. Ginger, on the other hand, contains certain compounds called gingerols, which can help reduce the symptoms of inflammation such as pain or swelling, especially for people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis if they consume ginger regularly. Ginger is also shown to lower inflammation in the intestines when it is taken in the form of a supplement.
You can add freshly grated ginger root to stir-frys, or try ginger lemonade made with honey, lemon juice, water and grated ginger.
Any fruit can fight inflammation since they are low in calories and fat, and high in antioxidants. Berries especially, have been known to have anti-inflammatory properties, possible due to anthocyanin, which is the powerful chemical and also gives the berries their rich colors of red, blue and purple.Research shows that red raspberry extract helps prevent animals from developing arthritis, and blueberries can assist in fighting intestinal inflammation and ulcerative colitis. People who eat more strawberries have been shown to have lower levels of C-reactive protein in their blood which can reduce the risk of inflammation.
Directly eat fresh berries by the handful every day or add them in cereals, muffins, pancakes, bread, salads and sauces, or make them as flavoring for low-fat yogurt and smoothies. They are all good choices!
An indication of this vegetable's great antioxidant properties is its brilliant red color. Beets and beetroot juice have been shown to lower inflammation, plus protect against heart disease and cancer because of their high fibrous content, plant pigments called betalains, and vitamin C.
Among the foods that reduce inflammation, beets are a good complement which can be added to other salad staples. You can also roast beets until they are juicy and tender. Both two ways are really worth a try!
Studies show that consuming about 12.5 grams of soy protein per day can help lower your risk of inflammation-driven cardiovascular disease. Lunasin, a peptide found in tofu and soymilk, plus other soy proteins, can inhibit inflammation. However, if you have a hormone-sensitive condition like endometriosis or breast cancer, speak with your doctor first before increasing the soy in your diet.
10. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Extra-virgin olive oil has all kinds of health-promoting nutrients. It has been shown in studies that there is a compound found in olive oil—oleocanthal which can stop the formation of chemicals that cause inflammation. Recently, researchers have found that 4 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil each day for 12 weeks can act as an anti-inflammatory drug.