What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a natural protective mechanism that is part of the body’s immune response. It is how your body protects itself from illness, injury or infection. The body increases its production of the immune cells known as white blood cells. It also releases cytokines that help fight infection. The classic (short-term) inflammatory include heat, pain, redness, and swelling, which is completely normal and natural.
Chronic (long-term) inflammation lingers inside the body with noticeable symptoms and never fully goes away. Chronic inflammation puts the body in a state of high alertness. It can lead to serious health issues, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, andliver disease.
Anti-inflammatory Foods to Include in Your Diet
Factors such as excessive drinking, obesity, and smoking can increase your risk of inflammation. Diet plays a vital role in managing inflammation, and experts recommend eating fewer inflammatory foods and more anti-inflammatory foods. Here is a list of whole, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich foods that can help you lower your inflammation levels.
Avocados have magnesium, fiber, potassium, monounsaturated fats and help lower the levels of inflammatory markers NF-kB and IL-6. Avocados also contain tocopherols and carotenoids that will help you reduce the risk of cancer.
2. Berries and Cherries
Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are packed with vitamins, fiber, and minerals. Berries also contain antioxidants like anthocyanin, which have anti-inflammatory effects which help reduce your risk of diseases. Blueberries significantly improve the production of NK cells which help reduce inflammatory markers.
3. Dark Chocolate and Cocoa
Dark chocolate and cocoa contain flavanols, which are the antioxidants responsible for reducing inflammation and helps in healthier aging by keeping the endothelial cells on the walls of your arteries healthy.
4. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats that provides powerful anti-inflammatory benefits due to the antioxidant oleocanthal. It may also reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and other major health conditions.
5. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish provide an excellent source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, such as EPA and DHA, and proteins. Fish such as anchovies, herring, mackerel, salmon, and sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA, which, when metabolized by the body to resolvins and protectins, have anti-inflammatory effects by reducing the C-reactive protein (CRP) inflammatory marker.
Grapes are rich in anthocyanins which help reduce inflammation by reducing inflammatory gene markers like NF-kB. Other plant compounds found in grapes, such as adiponectin and resveratrol, help reduce the risk of several diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, eye disorders, heart diseases, and obesity.
7. Green Tea
Green tea has a high content of the antioxidant epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) that has anti-inflammatory properties. EGCG inhibits inflammation by reducing cytokine production and safeguards the fatty acids in your cells from damage that can lead to diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart disease, obesity, among other conditions.
8. Green Leafy Vegetables
Green vegetables such as spinach, kale, collards, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower are rich in Vitamin K,reducing inflammation. Cruciferous vegetables help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Vegetables such as broccoli contain the antioxidant sulforaphane that has anti-inflammatory properties, which reduce your levels of NF-kB and cytokines.
Nuts, such as almonds, walnut, hazelnuts, pistachios, pecans, and peanuts, are rich in calcium, fiber, magnesium, Omega-3 fats, Vitamin E, and zinc that boast of strong anti-inflammatory effects.
10. Turmeric and Peppers
Turmeric is a spice that contains curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory compound. When combined with piperine from black pepper, curcumin absorption significantly improves, resulting in a significant reduction in the marker CRP. The risk for other inflammation-related conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, will also be reduced.
Bell and chili peppers contain Vitamin C and antioxidants such as ferulic acid, sinapic acid, quercetin, which have strong anti-inflammatory effects and lead to healthier aging
Inflammatory Foods to Avoid
Apart from taking anti-inflammatory foods, minimizing or completely cutting out some foods will help you reduce your risk of chronic inflammation.
Here’s a list of foods to cut out from your diet:
1. Excessive alcohol consumption.
2. Certain oils like vegetable and processed seed oils, such as soybean and corn oil.
3. Desserts like cakes, candies, cookies, and ice cream.
4. Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, pasta, and other pastries, etc.
5. Processed red meat, such as burgers, hot dogs, steaks, and sausages, etc.
6. Processed foods like French fries, crackers, chips, pretzels, and other fried foods.
7. Sugary beverages like soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks and fruit juices.
8. Foods made using partially hydrogenated fat ingredients, such as margarine.