Inflammation is your body’s defense mechanism against harmful irritants and pathogens. It’s a natural part of your body’s immune response. Unfortunately, in some cases your immune system fights your body’s own cells by mistake. This can lead to chronic inflammation like arthritis, where your joints, skin or other tissues in your body are permanently inflamed.
It is becoming increasingly clear that chronic inflammation may be at the root cause of many serious illnesses.
Your diet plays a huge role where inflammation is concerned. The foods you eat can help reduce and prevent inflammation… or make it worse! Carbohydrates, fat and cholesterol are among the food components most likely to encourage inflammation. Magnesium, beta-carotene, vitamins A, B, C, D and E, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, flavonoids, turmeric and tea are among the strongest anti-inflammatories.
Here are some science backed anti-inflammatory foods with powerful healing benefits:
Studies show that tart cherries can reduce pain from arthritis and post exercise soreness. One study showed the fruit as the highest inflammatory content of any food! Look for tart dried cherries and tart cherry juice.
Add tart cherry juice to breakfast smoothies or sprinkle dried tart cherries over your morning bowl of oatmeal or yogurt.
Wild fish such as Alaskan salmon contains anti-inflammatory omega-3. It is also known to help numerous ailments. Try and incorporate oily fish into your diet twice weekly. If you don’t like fish you can try a high quality fish supplement.
Turmeric has a peppery, warm and bitter flavor and a mild fragrance slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger. It is best known as one of the ingredients used to make curry.
Tumeric comes from the root of the curcuma longa plant and has a deep orange flesh. It has long been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in both the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine.
Turmeric was traditionally called Indian saffron because of its deep yellow orange color. It has been used throughout history as a condiment, healing remedy and textile dye.
Although tumeric is not used much in our western cuisine you can benefit from its amazing anti-inflammatory properties by taking a high quality tumeric supplement like Curcumin 2000.
Besides its anti-inflammatory properties turmeric is also a great fat burning spice that helps boost you metabolism.
Ginger contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. These substances are believed to explain why so many people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis experienced reductions in their pain levels and improvements in their mobility when they consume ginger regularly.
Chia seeds are a true superfood. Oddly they are members of the mint family but they taste totally neutral. This makes them a very versatile food. Chia seeds have been used in ancient cultures for many medicinal purposes, such as helping to ease joint pain and digestive issues.
Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory components in nature, as well as being great for the brain. Did you know that chia seeds contain more omega-3 fatty acids by weight than salmon does?
These tiny seeds are also a complete protein, meaning that they contain all eight essential amino acids that your body cannot synthesize on its own and must get from food.
Garlic has potent anti-inflammatory properties. One study identified four sulfuric compounds in garlic that help cut inflammation.
People who suffer from autoimmune diseases might be helped by including garlic in their diets. If you have psoriasis, a skin condition related to inflammation, try rubbing garlic oil directly on the affected area for relief.
Lab studies have found that sulforaphane, a compound in broccoli and other vegetables, may block enzymes linked to joint destruction and inhibit inflammation.
Broccoli is also abundant in vitamin K, which in high amounts may slow the progression of osteoarthritis. According to research funded by the Arthritis Foundation of Boston University School of Medicine.
Dark leafy greens
Studies have suggested that vitamin E may play a key role in protecting the body from pro-inflammatory molecules. One of the best sources of this vitamin is dark green veggies such as spinach, kale, broccoli and collard greens.
Dark greens and cruciferous vegetables also tend to have higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals like calcium and iron than those with lighter colored leaves.
Dark leafy greens contain powerful antioxidants as well as flavonoids, carotenoids and vitamin C which will help ward off cellular damage and tissue injury. Try your greens cooked or raw in salads and in smoothies… and don’t be afraid to fill your plate up
Extra-virgin olive oil
Olive oil contains a natural anti-inflammatory agent and may be partly responsible for the low levels of heart disease among those following a Mediterranean diet. Use it for cooking instead of butter or vegetable oil or as a base for your own healthy salad dressings.
The antioxidant found in the skin of grapes and red wine also fights inflammation and cancer. Drinking grape juice may lower inflammatory markers in the blood of people with stable coronary artery disease.
Just two tablespoons of ground flaxseed contain more than a hundred and forty percent daily value of the inflammation reducing omega-3 fatty acids and more lignans (a cancer fighting plant chemical) than any other plant food on the planet.
Papaya is a great anti-inflammatory agent, coined by Christopher Columbus as the fruit of the angels. Papaya contains papain, a protein digestive enzyme. Together with other nutrients such as vitamin C any papain helps to reduce inflammation as well as improve digestion and heal burns.
Apple peels are very rich in polyphenols and flavonoids that have been shown to have potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects which help to improve joint health.
Blueberries not only reduce inflammation but they can protect the brain from aging and prevent diseases such as cancer and dementia. Aim for organic blueberries as pesticides are hard to wash away due to their small size.
Tea, especially green tea is a great antioxidant. This amazing beverage also has anti-cancer properties, it can lower the levels of bad cholesterol, it can prevent cardiovascular disease and it can also fight infections! Moreover, green tea has mild anti-inflammatory effects as well, and it can help those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.
So what’s the secret? The high amounts of catachin polyphenols which make green tea such a powerful antioxidant! The Chinese and Japanese people consume green tea on a regular basis. This is why they have considerably lower heart disease rates compared to other people.
The biggest anti-inflammatory benefits that come from sweet potatoes are their high amounts of antioxidants, mainly beta carotene, alpha tocopherol and ascorbic acid. Studies have begun to show that these particular antioxidants may protect against the development and progression of knee osteoarthritis.
Cinnamon is a popular spice, often used to flavor baked treats. But cinnamon is more than just a delicious additive in our cakes! Studies have proven that the spice has anti-inflammatory properties which could help to ease swelling.
Nuts are known for their anti-inflammatory nature, but some are better for you in this regard than others. Consider almonds, which consistently make lists of foods that can help with inflammation. Cashew nuts are another good choice and walnuts specifically help with rheumatoid arthritis.
The great thing about most of these nuts is that they’re very versatile. They make for a great between-meal snack or for adding flavor to any main dish or side dish. It’s really easy to start eating more of them by simply being more aware that they can help you with anti inflammatory conditions and substituting them as a delicious snack.
Avocados are another great anti-inflammatory food, as well as a rich source of healthy fats. This makes it a great choice for losing weight and fat loss, which is helpful if you’re concerned about inflammation. Maintaining a healthy weight is important as it helps to keep inflammation under control.
Avocados also taste great and can be added to just about any meal, even as a side garnish. So, if you were looking for an excuse to eat more avocado…
Many foods are touted as super foods but hemp seeds have the credentials to back up that claim. In fact, no other plant-based food is such a perfect ratio of all the essential amino and fatty acids in such an easily digestible form for human consumption as the hemp seed.
Their notoriety as a superfood comes primarily from the significant amount of alpha linolenic acid (ALA) and gamma linolenic acid (GLA) they contain. These help to make hemp seeds a natural combatant for chronic inflammation and an important defense mechanism against chronic disease, as well as the effects of premature aging.
Cayenne peppers and other hot chili peppers have been praised for their health benefits since ancient times. All chili peppers contain natural compounds called capsinoids. This is what gives the spicy fruits their anti-inflammatory properties.
Cayenn peppers have long been used as a digestive aid as well, however they have more recently been shown to ease pain associated with arthritis and headaches. Chili peppers are widely considered to be a powerful anti-inflammatory spice, so be sure to include a dash of cayenne in your next dish.
Kelp such as kombu contains fucoidan, a type of complex carbohydrate that is anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor. A few studies on fucoidan in recent years have found promising results in using the brown algae extract to control liver and lung cancer and to promote collagen synthesis.
The high fiber content of kelp also helps to reduce appetite, slow fat absorption and promote weight loss. Whenever possible, get only organic kelp harvested from unpolluted seas!
Try adding more of some (or all) of these foods to your diet to help keep chronic inflammation – and all the health issues associated with it – at bay.