Inflammation is largely caused by the foods we put in our bodies. Consuming highly processed canned, frozen and bagged foods are foreign to the natural flora of our bodies and so the body naturally fights against the products in these foods (as a part of the immune response), leading to high levels of inflammation. Effects of chronic inflammation can range from heart disease to dementia, to cancer and arthritis. Most autoimmune diseases like inflammatory bowel disease are linked to excessive inflammation in the body.
The good news is that you can control the level of inflammation in your body by simply changing the way you eat. Getting regular sleep, eating well, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake (or quitting altogether), stressing less and engaging in regular exercise will all help make a difference.
Here is a list of 12 amazing foods that help combat inflammation in the body:
Papaya contains the enzymes ‘papain’ and ‘chymopapain’ which help reduce inflammation in the body (and also improve digestion). Papaya has powerful antioxidants like beta-carotene and vitamins C and E which combat free radicals in the body that trigger inflammation-related diseases.
Avocados are polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFAs). PFAs are mostly present in seaweeds and other ocean plants, and are extremely rare in land plants, so this makes the avocado very unusual in this respect. The PFAs and phytosterols in avocados provide our bodies with anti-inflammatory benefits which help fight a variety of diseases. Particularly, avocado’s phytosterols prevent pro-inflammatory prostaglandin E2 synthesis by the connective tissue (and thus reducing inflammation in the joints of individuals experiencing arthritis and gout.
Cranberries contain important anti-inflammatory phytonutrients that protect the cardiovascular system and prevent hardening of the arteries. They also prevent inflammation-associated diseases of the urinary tract (urinary tract infections), stomach (ulcers), and mouth (gingivitis).
Broccoli is an incredible anti-inflammatory food, thanks to it’s abundant sulforaphane compounds which help the body get rid of potentially carcinogenic compounds (a cause of a highly inflamed body) and relieve inflammation and oxidative stress. It is also very high in vitamin C which is another powerful anti-inflammatory agent which cuts the levels of inflammation markers by up to 45%!
(5) Red Cabbage
If we do not ingest anti-inflammatory foods, our body cannot regulate the inflammation in our body we acquire from stress and the environment, as well as highly processed foods, wheat, and animal products. Anthocyanins found in red cabbage have been researched numerous times and time and time again they have been found to be one of the best anti-inflammatory vegetables out there!
(6) Hemp seeds
Raw hemp seeds contain an ideal ratio of omega’s 3 and 6. Omega-6 fats contain GLA which works in the body as an anti-inflammatory, decreasing inflammation and helping people suffering from things like asthma, arthritis and other body pain associated from exercising or being bruised. This healthy fat also improves the health of our skin and inhibits cancer cell growth.
Inflammation and damage by free radicals have been linked with pretty much every disease we witness today. Many studies have found that blueberries prevent oxidative stress and inflammation. Blueberries help increase natural killer cell activity which help eradicate free radicals and fight disease. As well, they promote the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines in the body which leaves us with lower levels of inflammation and thus reduced chance of falling ill.
(8) Chia seeds
Many arthritis sufferers have reported reduced inflammation associated pain after just a few weeks of taking chia seeds. They contain important omega-3 fatty acids which are converted to prostagladins which have pain relieving and anti-inflammatory effects. Chia seeds are also a great source of antioxidants (they contain more than blueberries!), and antioxidants help keep the body healthy and reduce pain arising from inflammation in the body.
Ginger contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols which inhibit the production of nitric oxide (which naturally forms potent and very damaging free radicals called peroxynitrites). Ginger has also been found to suppress pro-inflammatory compounds like cytokines produced by synoviocytes, chrondrocytes and leukocytes, and thus making our immune system and joints stronger.
Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, phytonutrients (tannins, phenolic acids and flavonoids), quinones and other anti-inflammatory nutrients. Consuming walnuts has been linked to decreased markers for blood vessel inflammation (reduced C-reactive protein) for those at risk for heart disease. Including walnuts as a part of your diet will ensure you gain these benefits.
Turmeric, if you haven’t already heard, is one of the best anti-inflammatory foods out there! Thanks to the active ingredient, curcumin, this root can inhibit the activity and synthesis of COX-2 and 5-LOX, two important enzymes involved in the inflammatory response. One study found that osteoarthritis patients had significantly reduced pain and increased mobility when taking just 200 mg of curcumin per day (the control group with no curcumin had no significant improvements). Curcumin has also been found to block inflammatory pathways, and thus prevents proteins from triggering pain and swelling.
A specific nutrient in celery, called “luteolin”, is particularly effective against inflammation and cancer. This compound is found in smaller amounts in peppers, parsley, thyme, basil and peppermint. It is a biofalvonoid which means that it has double the antioxidant properties of vitamin C! Luteolin essentially prevents the inflammatory pathway in the brain to get switched on, and thus helps reduce the amount of inflammatory responses triggered in the body.