It is becoming increasingly clear that chronic inflammation is the root cause of many serious illnesses – including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and even some cancers. Inflammation is an important part of the immune response and is the cornerstone of the body’s healing response. But when inflammation persists or serves no purpose, it damages the body and causes illness.
While stress, lack of exercise, and genetics can all cause chronic inflammation, a steady diet of sugars and processed food can do the same. Eating a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods can help to keep you healthy. If you want to eat for long-term health, lowering inflammation is crucial.
Below are some anti-inflammatory all-stars. We encourage our patients to focus on eating whole foods and follow a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
Salmon: Consuming the ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 essential fatty acids is one of the keys to fighting inflammation. Omega-6 is “pro-inflammatory” while omega-3 is considered potent anti-inflammatory substances. Wild-caught salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, which helps counteract chronic inflammation. Studies show that these fats help to protect against cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and support optimal mental health.
Green Leafy Vegetables: Dark green leafy vegetables contain many nutrients including Vitamins A, C, E, and K. These antioxidants combat cellular damage that can contribute to inflammation. The best greens include kale, spinach, bok choy, Swiss Chard, and arugula.
Turmeric: Turmeric is a culinary spice that has been deemed a powerful anti-inflammatory due to its main component, curcumin. Turmeric may help reduce risk of several diseases, probably because it is the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory agent discovered thus far. In fact, this spice contains more than two-dozen anti-inflammatory compounds. Turmeric is effective at reducing the inflammation related to arthritis, diabetes and other diseases. Add it to curries or stir-fries or try a turmeric tea. However, don’t forget to eat black pepper along with it to enhances the effects. Black pepper contains piperine, which can boost curcumin absorption.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: High quality olive oil contains abundant antioxidants, which have been show to provide cardiovascular and anti-cancer benefits. It also contains a unique anti-inflammatory agent oleocanthal, found to be as effective as ibuprofen; oleocanthal is responsible for the peppery “bite” of good extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil consumption also has been linked to lower risk of stroke and heart disease.
Berries: Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries, are potent sources of antioxidants that combat cellular damage. Berries are high in an antioxidant called quercetin, a compound that plays an important part in fighting free radical damage, the effects of aging and inflammation. One study found that overweight men and women who ate strawberries had lower levels of certain inflammatory markers associated with heart disease.
Anne M. Minihane, Sophie Vinoy, Wendy R. Russell, Athanasia Baka, Helen M. Roche, Kieran M. Tuohy, Jessica L. Teeling, Ellen E. Blaak, Michael Fenech, David Vauzour, Harry J. McArdle, Bas H. A. Kremer, Luc Sterkman, Katerina Vafeiadou, Massimo Massi Benedetti, Christine M. Williams, Philip C. Calder. Low-grade inflammation, diet composition and health: current research evidence and its translation. British Journal of Nutrition, 2015; 1 DOI: 10.1017/S0007114515002093
University of Alabama at Birmingham. (2013, March 22). Foods can help fight inflammation.ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 13, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130322154027.htm
Ellis, C. L., Edirisinghe, I., Kappagoda, T., & Burton-Freeman, B. (2011). Attenuation of Meal-Induced Inflammatory and Thrombotic Responses in Overweight Men and Women After 6-Week Daily Strawberry (Fragaria) Intake. Journal of Atherosclerosis and Thrombosis, 18(4), 318-327. doi:10.5551/jat.6114
Freeman, L. M. (2010). Beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids in cardiovascular disease. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 51(9), 462-470. doi:10.1111/j.1748-5827.2010.00968.x
Menon, V. P., & Sudheer, A. R. (n.d.). Antioxidant And Anti-Inflammatory Properties Of Curcumin. ADVANCES IN EXPERIMENTAL MEDICINE AND BIOLOGY The Molecular Targets and Therapeutic Uses of Curcumin in Health and Disease, 105-125. doi:10.1007/978-0-387-46401-5_3
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