Combat Inflammation By Eating These Foods
There is good and bad in many things, and inflammation is no exception. For all intents and purposes, inflammation works to protect the body. It’s the immune system’s response to something harmful, such as injuries, bacteria, infection, or irritants.
But inflammation can work against the body, too. It can linger silently for months and even years, and lead to various chronic inflammatory conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, endometriosis, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.
The World Health Organization ranks chronic diseases as the greatest threat to human health. It is anticipated that in the United States, the prevalence of diseases associated with chronic inflammation will increase persistently for the next 30 years.
Fortunately, there are ways to manage chronic inflammation, including maintaining an anti-inflammatory diet. Some of the foods and drinks to eat regularly that can help fight inflammation include:
Every bite of a tomato, whether in a salad or a sandwich, is taking a bite into good health. Tomatoes are rich in potassium, lycopene, and vitamin C. Lycopene is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties and the natural pigment that gives tomatoes their red color. Vitamin C helps to maintain bone health and also has been found to reduce inflammation by getting rid of free radicals that can trigger inflammation.
2. Olive Oil
Olive oil is not only a healthy cooking oil but an anti-inflammatory that has oleocanthal and other antioxidant properties. Oleocanthal is a natural compound similar to Ibuprofen, a medication that reduces inflammation.
3. Leafy Greens
Broccoli, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and other green leafy vegetables are not only good side dishes for dinner, but also good sources of vitamin K, which acts as an anti-inflammatory. Vitamin K also plays a role in blood clotting and is important for bone health. In addition to vitamin K, many green leafy vegetables contain vitamin E, which has potent antioxidant properties.
Studies have linked nuts with reducing inflammatory disease, including arthritis. Almonds and walnuts are among the best nuts for arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Almonds are high in fiber and walnuts have the highest omega-e content among nuts. Hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, and pistachios are also on the list of nuts that help to combat inflammation because they contain vitamin E, omega-3 fats, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Besides fighting inflammation, the Arthritis Foundation says nuts also support cardiovascular health because they contain polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease that can be higher in people with certain types of arthritis.
5. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish are good weapons to have in the fight against inflammation. “The marine omega-3 fatty acids nip inflammation in the bud before it ignites,” Kim Larson, a Seattle-based nutritionist and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics told the Arthritis Foundation. “They really help to tamp down inflammation in the body on a cellular level.” In addition, studies show that people who eat fish high in omega-3s on a regular basis are less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, (RA). And, omega-3s that come mainly from fish may help reduce joint swelling and pain in people who already have RA. The Arthritis Foundation recommends eating mackerel, tuna, salmon, and other fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, two to four times a week to lower inflammation.
Berries are not only colorful and delicious, the superfoods are also effective in beating back inflammation. This is because strawberries, blackberries, cranberries, and blueberries have phytochemicals, compounds found in plants that are known to have anti-inflammatory properties.
6. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate not only has the power to create happiness and satisfaction, it also has the ability to reduce inflammation. This is because dark chocolate contains chemical compounds called polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties. Studies have found that polyphenols can potentially offer protection from the development of heart disease, cancer, neurodegenerative disease, and type 2 diabetes. One study even suggested that eating 30 grams of 84 percent dark chocolate each day for eight weeks significantly reduced inflammatory biomarkers in people with type 2 diabetes.
Avocados are rich in nutrients, including vitamins B6, C, and E, as well as fiber, potassium, magnesium, and healthy fats. They also contain monounsaturated fat and antioxidants which can reduce the body’s inflammatory response.
8. Green Tea
Green tea has been the subject of many studies that show the beverage has anti-inflammatory properties. For instance, one lab study conducted by researchers at Case Western Reserve University, revealed that a major substance in green tea, called EGCG, may halt the progression of arthritis by blocking a pro-inflammatory cell called interleukin-1, from damaging cartilage. “Tea drinking boosts T cells’ ability to react against bacterial and viral infections,” Dr. Jack F. Bukowski, a rheumatologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told the Arthritis Foundation. “I suspect this is good for people with rheumatoid arthritis, who are taking immunosuppressive medications that make them more susceptible to infection.”
Although inflammation is challenging, it can be managed. In some cases, doctors may prescribe medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids to manage inflammation. In other instances, it can be done through diet, regular exercise, reducing stress, and making other healthy lifestyle changes.