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7 Foods That Fight Inflammation

Some of the best ways to fight inflammation are not with medication but with an anti-inflammatory diet. Chronic inflammation can lead to an increased risk of chronic disease.

Did you know that inflammation is often a direct reaction to your body’s immune response? In fact, without inflammation, we can’t heal. Intermittent bouts of inflammation are normal and required for our bodies to fight off foreign invaders, such as microbes, that cause illness.  When inflammation is out of control and becomes chronic it can lead to many diseases—including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s.

Fresh fruits and vegetables at Spanish farmers market

Inflammation plays a strong role in these chronic diseases and is associated with foods high in sugar and saturated fat.  According to Scott Zashin, MD and professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, “These substances cause overactivity in the immune system, which can lead to joint pain, fatigue, and damage to the blood vessels.”

Restriction in the number of refined sugars and saturated fats in your diet is important. Limit foods like cake, ice cream, cookies, hot dogs, soda, processed meats, french fries, fried chicken, and generally most fast foods since they are high in refined carbohydrates or sugars and saturated fats. All of these foods can easily lead to weight gain, increased blood pressure, and diabetes.

We are going to take a look at seven foods that fight inflammation. When planning your regular diet, incorporate as many of these foods as possible.

Add These Seven Anti-inflammatory Foods to Your Regular Diet:

1. Whole grains

Ditch the white bread, pasta, cereal, and grains. Whole grains contain more fiber, which reduces the protein in the blood responsible for inflammation. Look for foods that list whole grains first in the ingredients and have no added sugars.

2. Fish

Oily fish (like salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna) are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help reduce chronic inflammation. To get the maximum benefits, you need to eat fish several times a week, and it should be cooked in healthy ways, such as baked or boiled. If you are not a fan of fish, you can take fish-oil supplements.

3. Dark, leafy greens

Studies continue to show that Vitamin E may play a key role in protecting the body from pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines. This vitamin is abundant in dark, green veggies–such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and collard greens.

4. Nuts

All nuts are packed with antioxidants, especially almonds and walnuts, which can help your body fight off and repair the damage caused by inflammation. Nuts (along with fish, leafy greens, and whole grains) are a big part of the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to reduce inflammation in as little as six weeks.

5. Beets

The brilliant red color of the beet is an indicator of its brilliant antioxidant properties. Beets and beetroot juice have been shown to reduce inflammation, as well as protect against cancer and heart disease.

6. Ginger and turmeric

These spices are common in Asian and Indian cooking. Turmeric, the ingredient that gives curry its yellow color, works in the body by helping to turn off NF-kappa B, a protein that regulates the immune system and triggers the process of inflammation. Its relative ginger, meanwhile, has been shown to reduce inflammation in the intestines when taken in supplement form.

7. Berries

All fruits can help fight inflammation because they’re low in fat and calories and high in antioxidants. But berries, especially blueberries have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties—possibly because of anthocyanins, the powerful chemicals that give berries their rich color.

The above foods are just a few that are of the choices you have to fight inflammation. There are many others- extra virgin olive oil, flaxseeds, tomatoes, peppers, avocados, broccoli, grapes, cherries, etc.

Closeup of fresh blueberries and raspberries

The top 5 foods with high antioxidant properties are blueberries, dark chocolate, pecans, strawberries, and red cabbage.

Oxidative Stress

I want to take a few minutes to talk about oxidative stress.  Oxidative stress is a phenomenon caused by an imbalance between the production and accumulation of free radicals and antioxidants.  Overproduction of free radicles can lead to cell and tissue damage, particularly fatty tissue, proteins, and DNA.

Oxidation is a normal and necessary process that takes place in your body. Oxidative processes are necessary for life. They provide the energy necessary for many cellular functions. Oxidative stress, on the other hand, occurs when there’s an imbalance between free radical activity and antioxidant activity.

Factors that may increase your risk of oxidative stress and tissue damage:

  • obesity
  • exposure to radiation
  • smoking cigarettes or other tobacco products
  • alcohol consumption
  • certain medications
  • pollution
  • exposure to pesticides or industrial chemicals
  • as previously mentioned, diets high in fat, sugar, and processed foods

Oxidative stress is directly correlated to aging so if you don’t feel motivated to eat for the good health of the inside of your body, well you may be motivated to eat healthy for the outside of your body.

In summary, we cannot neglect the fact that you are what you eat, and eating a healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in processed foods and red meat has enormous health benefits. The health-promoting properties of an anti-inflammatory diet are enormous.  So, maybe your best bet for a healthy lifestyle is a simple trip to the grocery store!

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