Did you know that foods can promote inflammation or fight inflammation? Have you ever heard of anti-inflammatory foods? Read on for Foods that Fight Inflammation.
Even doctors are learning that one of the best ways to fight inflammation is food from your refrigerator, not pills from your medicine cabinet.
Your immune system attacks anything in your body that it recognizes as foreign—such as an invading microbe, plant pollen, or chemical. The process is called inflammation. Intermittent bouts of inflammation directed at truly threatening invaders protect your health.
However, sometimes inflammation persists, day in and day out, even when you are not threatened by a foreign invader. That’s when inflammation can become your enemy. Many major diseases that plague us—including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s—have been linked to chronic inflammation.
Researchers have identified certain foods that can help control inflammation. Many of them are found in the Mediterranean diet (my favorite), which emphasizes fish, vegetables and olive oil, among other staples.
- Go Fish
Certain types of fish are rich in inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6, two inflammatory proteins in your body.
How much: At least 3 to 4 ounces, twice a week
Best sources: Salmon, tuna, sardines, anchovies, and other cold-water fish
- Eat Your Fruits and Veggies
Fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants, which support the immune system – the body’s natural defense system – and may help fight inflammation.
How much: At least 1½ to 2 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of veggies per meal
Best sources: Colorful foods such as blueberries, blackberries, cherries, strawberries, spinach, kale and broccoli
- Go Nuts and Seeds
Nuts are full of inflammation-fighting monounsaturated fat, protein and filling fiber, too – a bonus if you’re trying to lose a few pounds.
How much: Eat 1.5 ounces of nuts daily (about a handful)
Best sources: Walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and almonds
- Break out the Beans
Beans have several antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. They’re a low-cost source of fiber, protein, folic acid and minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc, and potassium. Rinse well if canned, best to soak your own.
- Pour on the Olive Oil
Olive oil contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, antioxidants and oleocanthal, a compound that can lower inflammation and pain.
How much: Two to three tablespoons per day in salad dressings or for low temp sautéing or in other dishes
Best sources: Extra virgin olive oil is less refined and processed so it retains more nutrients.
- Get out the tissues and Peel Some Onions
Onions are packed with beneficial antioxidants. They may also reduce inflammation, heart disease risk, and LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. Try them sautéed, grilled or raw in salads, stir-fries, main dishes, side dishes or sandwiches.
- Research Nightshades
Some people believe that “nightshade” vegetables like eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes trigger arthritis flares. I do not believe this, except for POTATOES – which are really good for almost nothing. There’s limited scientific evidence to support this theory and these healthy vegetables are central to Mediterranean cuisine, which I highly believe in. Especially tomatoes, which are on the list of reducing inflammation in other studies, so the jury is out on this one, but try cutting out nightshades for two weeks to see if symptoms improve.
- Fill up on Fiber
Fiber lowers C-reactive protein (CRP), a substance in the blood that indicates inflammation. Getting fiber from foods lowers CRP levels more than taking fiber supplements. Foods that have carotenoids, the antioxidants that give carrots, peppers and some fruits their color, are quite good at lowering CRP.
- Avoid Processed Foods and Limit Can Goods
Processed foods such as cookies, chips and other snacks can be high in unhealthy fats, which are linked with inflammation, and many other health-hindering things. Opt for whole, real, fresh, frozen, and were absolutely necessary canned, but remember vegetables and soups are often high in sodium, which boosts blood pressure.
- Halt the Salt
There are conflicting reports about just how bad excess salt is for us. We know it causes fluid retention – one of many factors that can lead to high blood pressure. Also, corticosteroids can cause the body to retain more sodium. So play it safe and hold the salt when possible.
- Drink in Moderation
Resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, may have anti-inflammatory effects. However, you should limit alcoholic drinks – 1 for women/ 2 for men. If you are on medication, ask your doctor what amount of alcohol, if any, is appropriate for you.
- Color Your Plate
The Food Pyramid many of us grew up with has been replaced with a colorful plate that emphasizes proper proportions. Fill half your plate with vegetables. Snack on vegetables. Add vegetables to your egg-y breakfast. Add vegetables to your main dishes. Have vegetables AS your main dishes.
- Take your Juice Plus
EVERY DAY, without fail. Double up if you need to until the flare-up is gone. Best way to get what you need every day without interruptions. Take it to work with you, eat it anytime. For more education on Juice Plus click here.