Anti-Inflammatory Foods Can Transform Your Health
Inflammation as a bodily function is not necessarily a bad thing.
When the body is injured or ill, the lymphatic (immune) system springs into action.
Bringing the immune system’s army of white blood cells to the area of concern via increased blood flow.
With the increased attention to the area, there might also be swelling, redness, heat, and pain or discomfort.
You’ve probably seen this immune response in action, as a cut or scrape becomes hot and puffy around the wound while the extra blood runs.
Inflammation, in a healthy body, is the normal and effective response that facilitates healing.
Sadly, we know this isn’t the whole story.
When the immune system overreaches and begins attacking healthy body tissues.
We’re met with an autoimmune disorder like leaky gut and inflammation in otherwise healthy areas of the body.
This is also the case for arthritis and fibromyalgia symptoms, as well as celiac and irritable bowel disease (IBD).
For diseases that aren’t autoimmune, inflammation can still play a part as the body continuously tries to heal the tissues in a given area.
Asthma creates inflamed airways; inflammation related to diabetes affects insulin resistance; and so on.
Despite the connection between inflammation and prevalent diseases.
As well as the connection between diet and inflammation that we’ll explore, diet isn’t always analyzed in response to inflammation.
In a 2014 study on diet and IBD, 33 percent of the patients in the study opted against the proposed anti-inflammatory diet.
All of the patients who participated and consumed anti-inflammatory foods found enough relief that they were able to discontinue at least one of their medications.
Still, the study notes that physicians typically offer “if it hurts, don’t do it” advice instead of clear dietary guidelines.
Certainly, there is more we can do to promote anti-inflammatory lifestyle changes.
A study in the Journal of Nutrition showed that eating berries daily could significantly reduce inflammation.
And another study in the same journal found that fruit-based drinks could neutralize the inflammatory effects of high-fat, high-carb meals.
Why is this exactly?
Well berries contain a class of antioxidants called flavonoids, but it’s the anthocyanins, specifically.
That contribute their anti-inflammatory effects by effectively turning off inflammatory and immune genes.
And when it comes to anthocyanins, blueberries are king.
On top of that, blueberries are rich in vitamin C and another polyphenol, resveratrol.
Which have both been found to promote anti-inflammatory responses through decreasing inflammatory free radicals.
2. Raw Oats
The raw oats are a resistant starch, a type of carb that passes through your gut undigested.
Instead of feeding you, it feeds your healthy gut bacteria.
Which in turn produce a fatty acid that encourages more efficient fat oxidation known as butyrate.
Higher levels of butyrate reduce inflammation in your body and help reduce insulin resistance as well. Less inflammation means less bloating and a slimmer you.
Researchers attribute ginger’s health benefits to gingerols, compounds that are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-disease.
According to numerous studies, these compounds block several genes and enzymes in the body that promote inflammation.
When University of Arizona researchers gave rats with experimental rheumatoid arthritis a crude ginger extract.
Which included the essential oils and other compounds found only in the root itself, it was able to inhibit joint swelling and inflammation.
Fresh ginger is richest in gingerol, so grate up the root, throw it in a mesh bag, steep, and sip on ginger tea.
4. Green Tea
Say hello to your secret weight-loss tool.
Green tea—a humble drink that’s been cherished as a health miracle for centuries and is even the cornerstone of the bestselling The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse.
These benefits stem from catechins, the group of antioxidants concentrated in the leaves of tea plants.
And the most powerful of all catechins, a compound called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, is found almost exclusively in green tea.
Scientific studies, like one in the Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology & Research.
Suggest that the high EGCG and polyphenol content in green tea make it a stronger anti-inflammatory elixir than other teas like black tea.
These anti-inflammatory properties have also been implicated in preventing the development and growth of skin tumors.
5. Dark Chocolate
Great news for all you chocoholics!
A recent study found that antioxidants in cocoa prevented laboratory mice from gaining excess weight and actually lowered their blood sugar levels.
And another study at Louisiana State University found that gut microbes in our stomach ferment chocolate into heart-healthy.
Anti-inflammatory compounds that shut down genes linked to insulin resistance and inflammation.
To enhance the effects, try pairing your chocolate with some apple slices: The fruit speeds up the probiotic fermentation process, leading to an even greater reduction in inflammation and weight.
Psst, make sure you’re choosing the right kind!
Look for cacao content of 70 percent or above because these contain the highest amounts of antioxidants.
You can thank curcumin for turmeric’s beautifully bright, yellowy-orange color—but that’s not all it’s good for.
This active compound has been found to contain potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Studies have shown curcumin directly inhibits the activation of inflammatory pathways through shutting off production of two pro-inflammatory enzymes, COX-2, and 5-LOX.
For this reason, curcumin has been implicated in a range of beneficial health effects, from preventing cognitive decline.
Liver damage, and heart disease, while easing joint inflammation and pain associated with arthritis.
7. Beetroot or Beets
Besides being a source of many phytochemicals, including ascorbic acid, carotenoids, and flavonoids, beets are a unique source of betalain pigments.
Which have been found to display potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and chemopreventive activity.
One of these pigments, betaine, is a nutrient that not only fights inflammation.
But also is known to rev your metabolism, positively influences the mechanism for insulin resistance, boost your mood, and shut down genes that encourage fat to hang around.
A review in the journal Nutrients has associated eating beets with lower levels of inflammatory markers—including CRP as well as interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor.
Which are released by harmful belly fat—as well as a decrease in risk of plaque buildup, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.
8. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Add fighting inflammation to the list of Mediterranean diet benefits—right next to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and dialing up weight loss.
While researchers initially believed many benefits were conferred by the presence of healthy monounsaturated fats.
They also found that other oils with MUFAs, particularly oleic acid, did not exhibit the same health benefits.
Now, researchers have found the key component is oleocanthal.
This compound, found only in extra virgin olive oils (as these are unrefined and contain more phenolic compounds).
Has a significant impact on inflammation and helps reduce joint cartilage damage.
Working similarly to ibuprofen in that it prevents the production of pro-inflammatory COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes.
9. Chia Seeds
With 9 grams of healthy fats (including inflammation-quelling ALA omega-3s) alongside a whopping 11 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein per ounce, chia seeds can stabilize blood sugar.
Boost weight loss, suppress appetite, and even help keep your body hydrated throughout the day.
Put them all together, and you have an inflammation-fighting superfood.
According to a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, loafs of bread supplemented with increasing doses of chia seeds were found to decrease spikes in blood sugar in a dose-dependent manner.
Post-eating blood sugar spikes have been implicated in causing increases in inflammation due to the overproduction of inflammatory free radicals called reactive oxygen species (ROS).
Fit chia seeds into your diet today.
Spinach attacks inflammation from all sides.
It’s rich in carotenoids, and vitamins C, E, and K—all of which have been found to protect the body from pro-inflammatory cytokines.
A form of vitamin E called alpha-tocopherol was found to decrease inflammation in patients with coronary artery disease in a The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study.
And in a separate study in the Canadian Journal of Surgery.
Vitamin E administration was found to reverse levels of the same inflammatory adipokine compounds released by belly fat: tumour necrosis factor-a and interleukin-6.
11. Whole Grains
The high B vitamin content of whole grains (which is nearly entirely lost during the refinement process) also helps reduce the inflammatory hormone homocysteine in the body.
Not only that but high fiber foods also suppress appetite.
According to a team of international researchers, a molecule called acetate is naturally released when fiber is digested.
Acetate then travels to the brain, where it signals us to stop eating.
And if you eat less, you’re less likely to be taking in more pro-inflammatory foods.
Besides keeping brittle bones at bay.
Vitamin D also fends off depression and colds, reduces the risk of certain cancers, and perhaps most importantly, diminishes inflammation.
Previous research has found a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and increased levels of pro-inflammatory markers.
While your body produces D whenever your skin is directly exposed to sunlight.
If you’ve been finding that you’re glued to your desk more often than you’d like.
It might be best to get some vitamin D into your diet as well, and whole eggs are a great solution.
The yolk contains a host of fat-blasting and health-boosting nutrients from vitamin D to fat-blasting choline.
There’s now science to back-up the smelly, cold-busting benefits of garlic.
Researchers hypothesize garlic’s cold-fighting power comes from the compound allicin, which blocks enzymes that play a role in bacterial and viral infections.
In terms of an inflammatory response, a review of Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry explained that aged garlic extract has been found to favorably stimulate anti-inflammatory proteins while suppressing inflammatory markers in chronic inflammation environments.
Taking an aged-garlic supplement provides the highest concentration of bioavailable compounds.
But studies have also shown that fresh garlic can provide subtle benefits.
Just be sure to crush the garlic first to kickstart production of the bioactive allicin compound.
Although not as strong as animal-based omega-3s, DHA and EPA, nuts (particularly, walnuts) are a great source of a plant-based, anti-inflammatory omega-3 known as ALA.
Almonds are one of the best sources of antioxidant vitamin E.
Which helps protect cells from oxidative damage (a byproduct of inflammation), and hazelnuts contain the highest amount of immuno-protective oleic acid.
15. Bone Broth
Don’t dismiss bone broth as just another health fad—there’s solid evidence to back up its rightful place in your diet.
To make it, bones are left to simmer in water for an extended period of time, extracting and breaking down their collagen and other nutrients.
Some of that broken down material from the cartilage and tendons is glucosamine (which you may have seen sold as a supplement for arthritis and joint pain).
According to a study published in the journal PLoS One, when overweight, middle-aged adults took a glucosamine supplement.
They were able to decrease serum CRP (inflammation biomarker) levels by 23 percent more than those who didn’t take a supplement.
The stock is also full of anti-inflammatory amino acids (glycine and proline).
And the ample levels of gelatin will help rebuild your gut lining to further assist with your anti-inflammatory gut microbes.