Looking for natural solutions to reduce inflammation? Try these seven foods—some might even surprise you!
When you're sick, your body sends out inflammatory cells to help heal damaged tissues and fight against foreign objects like bacteria and germs. They are sent by the immune system to the injured parts to accelerate wound healing and prevent any infections. Inflammation is the body’s way of tackling harmful substances and helping you recover from injuries and sickness. But, the problem starts when inflammation happens without any injury or sickness, leading to chronic inflammation.
What is chronic inflammation?
Chronic inflammation is a condition where the immune system sends inflammatory cells to different body parts without any wounds or sickness. It could be due to an autoimmune disease, poor treatment of an injury that caused infections and overexposure to irritants and even stress. So, if you're stressed, you'll release more of these chemicals, increasing the amount of inflammation in your body. Some examples of chronic inflammation are abdominal pains, ulcers, fever, sore throat, joint pain and fatigue.
Chronic inflammation affects your entire body, including your gut. It takes a hit at your metabolism and disrupts your digestive system. Your nutrient absorption is also reduced, which further weakens your entire system.
While you need to talk to your medical provider to better understand your condition and inflammation, there are other ways, in addition to medical treatment, like eating specific foods that help reduce inflammation in the gut and body. Here are a few anti-inflammatory foods I highly recommend to help inflammation.
Seven natural anti-inflammatory foods you should add to your diet
1. Cruciferous vegetables
Green vegetables such as bok choy, green cabbage, broccoli, kale, and Brussel sprouts are known as cruciferous vegetables. These anti-inflammatory foods contain an isothiocyanate compound named Sulforaphane- a plant extract that is anti-inflammatory and encourages the production of cells that keep the body fit. Regular consumption of such vegetables curbs inflammation and improves the gut microbe. They also contain antioxidants, vitamin K, folate and fiber that naturally improve digestive health and reduce the risk of heart diseases.
Berries are full of antioxidants named anthocyanins, flavonoids and carotenoids that keep the body healthy and free of inflammation. They contain vitamins and chemicals that regulate the entire immune system, making them reliable anti-inflammatory foods. Some berries to include in your diet are strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. They help produce natural killer cells in the body which prevent chronic health problems. I love to have berries with yogurt as an evening snack and even in the form of my breakfast smoothie.
Our body produces cytokines that encourage the production of inflammatory cells. To keep such proteins in check, anti-inflammatory agents like lycopene are needed which can be increased through antioxidant-rich foods like tomatoes. Also containing vitamin C and potassium, tomatoes are a great source of lycopene that reduces pro-inflammatory compounds in the body, reducing the risk of cancer. When cooked with olive oil, lycopene, a carotenoid, helps the body absorb higher lycopene content, thus reducing inflammation faster. You can add tomatoes to your salads too.
4. Extra virgin olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil offers a plethora of benefits for your health, including anti-inflammation. It contains antioxidants like oleocanthal and Omega-3 fatty acids, making it a new staple in your diet. When almost 3 ½ tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil are consumed, it offers the same benefits as a 10% of ibuprofen dosage which is enough to relieve pain and inflammation. It also reduces the risk of heart disease. Use olive oil in your daily cooking and see results within a few days.
When it comes to anti-inflammation, curcumin in turmeric takes the cake. Responsible for giving turmeric its yellow color, curcumin is enriched with anti-inflammatory properties, making it ideal to be consumed with other anti-inflammatory foods. However, you need to have some patience with this spice as it might take 4-8 weeks to show some results and always add black pepper to help your body absorb the curcumin.
6. Green tea
Green tea is enriched with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Green tea has a component epigallocatechin-3-gallate that has proven to have anti-inflammatory effects on the body. This component reduces the risk of heart disease, obesity and cancer and decreases cytokine production, thus keeping inflammation at bay. A cup or two a day is ideal for overall good health.
7. Dark chocolate
Are you a chocolate lover? Well, then rejoice in knowing that dark chocolate is one of the most popular anti-inflammatory foods you can have daily. Dark chocolate has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds such as flavonols that promote healthy aging and reduce the chances of diseases by keeping your endothelial cells healthy.