There’s a lot of talk these days about inflammation and how the foods that we eat can contribute to our bodies being in a constant state of it.
And even though inflammation is an important and natural part of bodies’ healing process, getting stuck in a chronic state of inflammation isn’t a good thing.
It can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems we’re all trying to avoid.
Luckily, there are some food we can add to our diet to help reduce inflammation naturally, without taking additional medications.
Let’s take a look at how food affects inflammation in the first place and which options can add to our diets to help manage inflammation levels for the long run.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s way of securing itself from injury or infection. When we get hurt or sick, our immune system sends cells and chemicals to the affected area to promote healing.
This is called acute inflammation, and it’s a good thing. It helps us recover from injuries and illnesses.
However, sometimes inflammation doesn’t go away and becomes chronic.
This happens when the body keeps trying to heal itself, but the inflammation persists, causing damage to tissues and organs.
Chronic inflammation can cause health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Importance of Foods in Inflammation
The food choices we make have a good impact on our overall health and well-being. The food we eat can heavily influence whether our body enters an inflammatory state.
When our body is in an inflammatory state, it constantly fights against damage and infection, which can lead to various health problems.
Therefore, it’s essential to understand which foods can trigger inflammation and which foods can help reduce it.
We can measure inflammation by checking for a marker called C-Reactive Protein (CRP) in our blood. CRP is a protein generated by the liver in response to inflammation.
By measuring CRP levels in the blood, doctors and researchers can assess the degree of inflammation in the body.
Role of Protein
Understanding protein absorption limits refers to the maximum amount of protein that the body can effectively absorb and utilize.
When the body is under stress or exposed to toxins, it can lead to an increase in inflammation.
However, protein contains essential amino acids, which are important for building and repairing tissues, as well as supporting the immune system.
When protein is digested and broken down into amino acids, it can reduce inflammation by promoting the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines.
In addition, protein can also help regulate blood sugar levels, which can have a positive impact on inflammation.
Certain ingredients contribute to increased levels of inflammation in our bodies. These include:
Sugar and High-Fructose Corn Syrup
Sugary foods and drinks cause inflammation, especially when consumed excessively. High-fructose corn syrup, commonly found in processed foods and sugary drinks, is particularly problematic.
Vegetables and Seed Oils are High in Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Omega-6 fatty acids are an essential nutrient for the body to function correctly. However, when consumed in excess, they can contribute to inflammation.
Various vegetable oils, like corn, soybean, and sunflower, are high in omega-6 fatty acids.
Refined carbohydrates, including white bread, pasta, and rice, are processed foods with the most nutrients and fiber removed.
These foods can cause inflammation, especially when consumed in excess.
Processed meats, including hot dogs, bacon, and sausages, are high in preservatives and additives that can cause inflammation in the body.
These foods are also often high in saturated and trans fats, which can take part in inflammation.
Trans fats are a class of unsaturated fat commonly found in processed foods. These fats cause inflammation and are associated with a risk of heart disease and other health problems.
By avoiding or limiting these foods and choosing a nutritious diet rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods like fruits, whole grains, vegetables, and lean proteins, we can help reduce inflammation and promote optimal health.
Foods That Can Help Decrease Inflammation
Foods can be bad for inflammation, but they can also be helpful in reducing chronic inflammation. Here are some foods that can decrease inflammation:
Berries are little fruits packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. There are many kinds of berries, including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
Berries also contain antioxidants called anthocyanins that can help fight inflammation and reduce the risk of getting sick.
People who ate blueberries or strawberries had lower levels of inflammation in their bodies and better immune system function.
So, adding berries to your diet is a tasty and easy way to stay healthy!
Avocados are known for their yummy, creamy texture and filling taste, but did you know they also help fight inflammation?
They have many good things, like heart-healthy fats, antioxidants, fiber, potassium, and vitamins.
Two of the antioxidants found in avocados, vitamins C and E, are especially good for your heart because they slow down the bad cholesterol in your body.
Avocado also has potassium and lutein, which can help with blood pressure and inflammation.
There are so many tasty ways to eat avocado, like spreading it on a sandwich or using it as a mayo substitute, making guacamole, putting it on an omelet, or even making a sweet avocado mousse dessert!
Broccoli is a super healthy vegetable.
It’s part of a family of veggies that also includes cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale, and eating many of these can lower your risks of getting heart disease or cancer.
This is because they have unique things called antioxidants that can help fight inflammation in your body.
Broccoli also has something called sulforaphane, an antioxidant that can help lower inflammation by reducing some of the molecules that cause inflammation in your body.
4. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish, including salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, and anchovies, are rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.
These fatty acids help decrease inflammation in your body, which can cause various health problems.
When your body processes EPA and DHA, it turns them into compounds called resolvins and protectins, which have anti-inflammatory effects.
People who consume fatty fish or EPA and DHA supplements have lower inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP) points.
However, in one study, taking EPA and DHA supplements did not make a difference in inflammatory markers for people with irregular heartbeat.
5. Green Tea
Green tea is a healthy drink linked to a lower risk of different diseases, including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and obesity.
Its health benefits mainly include the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds it contains, such as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).
EGCG helps to reduce inflammation in the body by lowering the generation of pro-inflammatory cytokines and damage to fatty acids in cells.
Bell peppers and chili peppers are packed with vitamin C and antioxidants that can help fight inflammation.
Bell peppers also contain quercetin, which has been linked to reduced inflammation in conditions like diabetes. Chili peppers blend sinapic acid and ferulic acid, which may help reduce inflammation and promote healthy aging.
Mushrooms come in many different types, but only some can be eaten.
These include truffles, portobello mushrooms, and shiitake mushrooms. Mushrooms are low in calories and high in nutrients like selenium, copper, and B vitamins.
They also contain antioxidants that can help tackle inflammation in your body.
A specific type of mushroom called lion’s mane might help reduce inflammation caused by obesity. However, cooking mushrooms can reduce their anti-inflammatory compounds, so eating them raw or slightly cooked is best.
Grapes can help reduce inflammation and may help prevent diseases like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, and eye disorders.
They contain anthocyanins and resveratrol, which are antioxidants that provide health benefits.
Resveratrol has been found to decrease inflammatory gene markers and protect the heart against inflammation.
Additionally, grape extract may help increase levels of adiponectin, which can help with weight control and reduce cancer risk.
Turmeric is a flavorful spice commonly used in Indian cooking and it contains curcumin, a potent compound that can reduce inflammation.
Turmeric can help reduce inflammation related to arthritis, diabetes, and other diseases.
However, consuming enough curcumin from turmeric alone may be tricky to have a noticeable effect so supplements may be more efficient in their purpose.
Curcumin supplements are often mixed with piperine, which can help boost absorption. More research is needed to look for the optimal dosage of turmeric for reducing inflammation.
10. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is a healthy type of fat that is rich in monounsaturated fats.
It is often used in the Mediterranean diet, which has many health benefits. Extra virgin olive oil may reduce the risk of heart disease, brain cancer, and other severe conditions.
It has anti-inflammatory properties, which have been compared to the effects of anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen.
It’s important to note that extra virgin olive oil provides more significant anti-inflammatory benefits than refined olive oils.
Regular exercise has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body and joining a gym (like Meridian Fitness) can offer a range of training options to support this.
When we exercise, our muscles produce anti-inflammatory cytokines that can help reduce inflammation throughout the body.
However, it’s important to train at the appropriate intensity and duration to avoid causing excessive stress on the body, which can actually increase inflammation.
Inflammation is a natural process that offers the body to fight effectively with infections and injuries.
Chronic inflammation can lead to many diseases and dangerous health problems that, include heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Fortunately, many foods contain compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, fatty fish, herbs, and spices.
Some of the most potent anti-inflammatory foods include berries, leafy greens, fatty fish, nuts, turmeric, ginger, and garlic.
Additionally, limiting or avoiding processed and sugary foods is essential, as they can cause increased inflammation.
Adding these anti-inflammatory foods to your diet and reducing your intake of inflammatory foods can support your health and reduce your risk of chronic diseases.