Inflammation occurs from anything that stresses the body. This can be exercise to an injury, food that challenges our body’s digestive system, or something foreign, such as chemicals, plant pollen, or invading microbes. Essentially the body recognizes the stressor and activates the immune system. Occasional periods of inflammation that target these threatening invaders can help protect your health. However, inflammation can continue for days on end, if we don’t effectively recover from the stressor. This is when inflammation becomes unhealthy, and even chronic, for you and lead to a variety of “yucky” feel bad symptoms, sicknesses, and major diseases, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, depression, Alzheimer’s, and essentially anything else you can think of.
So, one of the best ways to control inflammation and keep your body healthy is by choosing the right foods. When you incorporate anti-inflammatory foods into your diet, you can help improve your daily health, recover from injuries quickly, and reduce your chances of illness.
At Health By Ratio, we offer holistic functional movement training programs that can help improve your mobility, reduce pain, and increase your overall health. Additionally, these programs also offer nutritional coaching, which helps you make better choices and incorporates anti-inflammatory nutrition habits. With our guidance and knowledge, you can start making better nutritional choices, get in better shape, and improve your overall health.
There are several different anti-inflammatory foods that you can add to your diet that can keep you healthy and reduce your risk of disease. In this blog, we are going to talk about the best anti-inflammatory foods as well as some foods that cause inflammation that you should avoid. Read on to learn more!
Foods That Cause Inflammation
Some foods cause inflammation and are generally known to be unhealthy for us. To keep yourself as healthy as possible, try to avoid or limit the amount of these foods as much as you possibly can!
- Fried foods- such as french fries, fried meat, etc.
- Refined carbohydrates- such as white and wheat bread, pastries, and most things you buy in a box…
- Artificial sweeteners- in things like soda, condiments, refined carbs, and other sweetened beverages.
- Corn and Soy fed (aka vegetarian fed… yes even organic) cows, chickens, turkey, and farmed fish
- Processed meat- such as sausage and hot dogs
- Canola oil, Soy Oil, Corn Oil, Margarine, and lard
All of these foods are known to cause inflammation, and they are also known to be unhealthy for us. Avoiding these foods as much as possible can help you reduce inflammation, weight gain, and other diseases. Instead of choosing these unhealthy options, try adding anti-inflammatory foods to your diet. There are many different foods that are great for an anti-inflammatory diet. (continued below)
Top Anti-Inflammatory Foods:
Berries are packed with vitamins, fiber, and minerals, making them healthy and nutritious. They also contain antioxidants called anthocyanins, which have anti-inflammatory effects and could reduce the risk of disease. One of many examples was an article from Healthline mentions a study that found overweight men and women who ate strawberries had lower levels of inflammatory markers that were associated with heart disease.
While berries in general offer anti-inflammatory benefits, blueberries are one of the best options. Our bodies produce natural killer cells (NK cells) that help keep your immune system functioning as it should. Another study found that men who consumed blueberries every day produced much more NK cells than men who did not eat blueberries.
Blueberries also contain quercetin, an antioxidant that has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Quercetin fights inflammation and cancer, which is why blueberries are such a powerful food with so many health benefits.
Broccoli is an extremely healthy and nutritious vegetable. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and kale, have been associated with a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease.
Broccoli is high in magnesium and potassium, key vitamins, flavonoids, and carotenoids. These nutrients give broccoli extreme antioxidant properties, which also means that it is an anti-inflammatory food. All of these healthy properties work together to reduce oxidative stress in the body, battle chronic inflammation, and reduce the risk of developing cancer. So eat your veggies!… Especially the cruciferous ones.
We all know that tomatoes are an extremely healthy superfood that offers many benefits, especially when pealed and de-seeded (Italian style baby). Tomatoes are high in vitamin C, potassium, lycopene, and many other healthy vitamins and minerals. Lycopene is an antioxidant with powerful anti-inflammatory properties. This antioxidant may be especially beneficial at reducing pro-inflammatory compounds that can be related to several types of cancer. Lycopene can also help protect the brain and fight inflammation that causes depression.
Cooking tomatoes in avocado oil can help you absorb more lycopene. This is because lycopene is a carotenoid, or a fat-soluble nutrient, which means that they are absorbed better with a source of fat.
For some, tomatoes and other night-shade foods, can actually cause inflammation (bloating, and loose stools). If you fall in that category a suggestion is to try peeling and avoiding the seeds. If it persists, these might not be meant for you.
Turmeric is a spice that has a strong, earthy flavor and is often used in Indian dishes, such as curry. The primary compound in turmeric is curcumin. This is an anti-inflammatory compound that can provide benefits for a number of conditions. Curcumin is one of the most potent anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative compounds in the world. The combination of turmeric and piperine from black pepper can improve the absorption of curcumin and provide significant anti-inflammatory benefits.
Ginger is an immune modulator that helps reduce inflammation that is caused by an overactive immune response. Gingerols are compounds that offer antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-disease properties. These compounds block enzymes and genes in the body that promote inflammation. Ginger is also known to cleanse the lymphatic system and is believed to break down the accumulation of toxins.
Beets are an excellent source of phytochemicals, which include ascorbic acid, carotenoids, and flavonoids. They also contain betalain pigments. Betalain pigments have been found to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and chemopreventive properties. Betaine is one of the pigments that fights inflammation and boosts your metabolism. Beets can also benefit you by repairing cells and providing you with high levels of potassium and magnesium, which offer inflammation-fighting properties. Magnesium deficiency is linked to inflammatory conditions, which make beets and their high levels of magnesium a great addition to your diet.
Green tea is well known as a healthy beverage that can aid in weight loss and provide many other health benefits. Green tea can help reduce your risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, obesity, and many other conditions. Many of these benefits stem from catechins, which are a group of antioxidants that are found on the leaves of tea plants. The most powerful of the catechins is a compound called epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG. EGCG is found almost exclusively in green tea. This antioxidant reduces pro-inflammatory cytokine production, as well as damage to fatty acids in your cells.
A Few More Anti-Inflammatory Foods
There are many different foods, drinks, and spices that provide anti-inflammatory benefits. While we just covered a few of the most popular, we wanted to give you a list of a few more that you can add to your diet to enjoy the anti-inflammatory properties.
Some other anti-inflammatory foods include:
- Dark chocolate (70% cacao or higher)
- Wild caught Sardines, Salmon, and other wild caught fish
- Leafy greens and really any veggies (organic preferably)
- Bone broth
- Chia seeds
- Olive oil & Coconut Oil
Adding these healthy foods, in a manageable way of a 2 to 3 servings a day, can help reduce inflammation in your body and provide you with a variety of other health benefits! Our nutritional coaching can help you develop healthier eating habits, that don’t take a lot of time and effort, while fighting inflammation. Be sure to check out the Health By Ratio program to get started and contact us with any questions you may have.