Whenever your body’s immune system recognizes a foreign body like an invading microbe, plant pollen, or chemical, it activates a process called inflammation. The human body uses inflammation as a defense mechanism to fight a lot of medical conditions, hence protecting it from further harm. Intermittent episodes of inflammation are a symptom of the body healing itself and protecting it from invaders.
However, when inflammation becomes persistent, even when your body is not threatened by an external source, then it should be a source of concern. Many illnesses that plague our society, such as arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have a common symptom – inflammation! In fact, inflammation is at the root of many diseases.
But did you know that one of the best ways to deal with inflammation does not come from the pharmacy? A trip to the grocery store can be the solution, instead. According to nutrition experts at the Harvard School of Public Health, many components of foods and beverages have anti-inflammatory effects that can help reduce the intensity of pain.
So, stick to an anti-inflammatory diet, if you want to reduce your risk of speeding up the disease process. An anti-inflammatory diet involves eating specific foods rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are reactive compounds in food that reduce disease cells or free radicals (molecules that increase the risk of certain diseases).
An anti-inflammatory diet involves replacing any food that has a lot of sugar or refined carbs with wholesome and nutrient-rich foods. Most popular diets already follow the principles of an anti-inflammatory diet. In fact, research supports that diets based on healthy eating practices, such as the Mediterranean diet, are good for the body and helps keeps diseases and inflammation at bay.
If you are looking to fight chronic inflammation, we recommend changes your eating habits. Even if you do not suffer from inflammation, healthy food choices can lower your chances of having other diseases or developing inflammation down the road.
Here is a list of 7 magic foods that can help you combat inflammation:
1. Green Leafy Vegetables
The first step towards better health is to fill the produce drawer of your refrigerators. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants that can help restore cellular health. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and Swiss chard are known for their anti-oxidant properties and are extraordinarily high in vitamin A and C. Also, they also contain a hefty dose of vitamin K that protects your brain against oxidative stress, caused by free radicals.
If you struggle to eat a plate of veggies on their own, then try this delicious anti-inflammatory juice that has all the ingredients to fight the symptoms of inflammation and keep you fit!
2. Good oils
Not all oils are unhealthy. Lipids or fats are a strong anti-inflammatory compound. Swap refined vegetable oil with healthier options like the olive, grapeseed, and avocado oils. Cook with extra virgin olive oil or top it over your salad. It is rich in oleic acid, a source of omega-9 fatty acid that fights inflammation.
According to a study, the high levels of antioxidants present in pure coconut oil helped in healing arthritis and reducing inflammations, more effectively than medication!
[Editor’s Note: Our sponsor Barlean’s makes an amazing culinary coconut oil that is flavorless for those who don’t love the flavor of coconut oil. Also, Now Foods has a selection of cooking oils for every one including extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil.]
3. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are a wonder of nature. They are loaded with omega-3 and omega-6 that help fight a lot of diseases, including inflammation. It is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and contains a lot of vitamins like Vitamin A, B, E, and D. It is also a powerhouse of essential minerals such as Sulphur, iron, iodine, magnesium and a lot more. Chia seeds’ ability to control inflammation and regulate cholesterol levels, makes it an excellent choice for people who are dealing with heart diseases.
So, add chia seeds to your daily smoothie or top it over your breakfast to have a healthy dose of chia seeds daily.
Thankfully, fighting inflammation doesn’t mean that you have to give up on all the good stuff. Any chocolate that is made of 70 percent pure cocoa can help restore your physical health.
Chocolate has a strong “oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC),” or antioxidant properties that help fight free radicals in the body. Cocoa beans are among the few foods which have the highest levels of antioxidants. Plus, they include polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins which can help your body function optimally.
All berries, such as raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries are known for their antioxidant properties. Flavonoids help fight the inflammation effects by reducing the damage caused by free radicals.
Dark colored berries, particularly blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are rich in compounds that help in fighting chronic illnesses like cancer, dementia, and cardiovascular diseases. There is no reason you shouldn’t have at least 1 cup of berries every day.
Many fish are helpful in fighting the symptoms of inflammation. But the ultimate fatty fish, salmon, makes an excellent choice. The reason salmon helps combat inflammation is that it is one of the best sources of omega-3 foods. Omega-3 is a potent anti-inflammatory substance. In fact, it can reduce the need for anti-inflammatory medication.
Not only does omega-3 help in lowering the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis-it also boosts cognitive function.
For centuries, herbs have been used for their medicinal properties. Fresh herbs like basil, thyme, and oregano promote health and healing. Not only do they make your food more delicious, it can also act as a source of antioxidants.
A study highlights that even herbs like curcumin and chili pepper have anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce pain.
Read more about herbs and spices and their benefits for your health
Foods that trigger inflammation:
We hope you now know at least 7 different foods which have anti-inflammatory properties. But to keep inflammation symptoms at bay, try to avoid processed foods such as packaged meats, chips and sugary snacks like cookies. All these foods flare inflammation. Planning your meals beforehand can prevent unhealthy meals from reaching your table.
Limit your alcohol intake. Consult your options with your doctor as alcohol can interfere with a lot of medications. Always discuss with your doctor prior to discontinuing any medication so they can monitor your condition(s).
Finally, exercise regularly. An active lifestyle fueled by nutrient-rich and wholesome foods can help prevent inflammation.