Inflammation is uncomfortable. If you’ve sprained an ankle, you know how the resulting swelling feels and looks. Now imagine inflammation in parts of your body you can’t see.
New research shows that inflammation can be the cause of many diseases. These include heart disease, cancers, and inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis. Even gum disease has connections to inflammation.
As more people learn about the negative impacts of inflammation, they’re turning to their kitchens for solutions. Food choices have a significant impact on our health and wellness.
Let’s take a look at some of the best anti-inflammatory foods and foods to avoid.
What Causes Inflammation?
Inflammation is part of the human body’s natural immune response. When a foreign invader like pollen enters the body, our immune system triggers an all-hands-on-deck response. White blood cells mobilize to surround the invader and prevent it from spreading.
Sometimes the inflammatory response is low. The usual triggers fly under the radar, and our immune system doesn’t respond effectively. This leads to further inflammation.
In some cases, inflammation becomes chronic. When this happens, the risk of long-term consequences increases.
The Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Some foods counteract the body’s immune response. By choosing foods high in natural antioxidants and taking part in the ChiroThin program, you may be able to reduce inflammation.
Eat Your Vegetables
A diet rich in plant compounds is one of the best ways to start. Focus on leafy greens like kale, spinach, and collards. Swiss and rainbow chard are also good choices.
Broccoli and cabbage are also known foods that reduce inflammation. Tomatoes top the list as well. Bell peppers contain capsaicin, a powerful natural antioxidant.
Most experts recommend eating your vegetables raw or steamed for maximum health benefits. Try to add a hearty salad to your diet a few times a week.
If you’re able to catch fresh fish, that’s great! For others, purchasing fish at the grocery store is a fantastic way to add this powerful, anti-inflammatory food to your diet.
Try to find oily fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, and trout. The Omega-3 fatty acids in these fish have numerous health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties.
Another benefit of these types of fish is that they retain their health benefits even if frozen or canned. This makes adding fish to your diet easy if you live in a landlocked area.
One rule of thumb when shopping for healthy food is color. The plant compounds that create bright colors in food are the same ones that help lower inflammation. Bright, beautiful berries are the perfect addition to a healthy diet.
Many nutritionists place berries at the top of healthy food lists. Berries are rich in antioxidants, fiber and vitamin C. Berries are also naturally low in calories.
Add a quarter cup of berries to your cereal or your morning smoothie. Or try berries with a bit of mint and honey for a delicious and healthy snack. Berries also add delightful flavors and textures to salads.
Whole grains should be on everyone’s menu. Unrefined grains are rich in fiber and antioxidants like phytic and ferulic acids. Antioxidants are vital for reducing inflammation.
When shopping for grains, you’ll want to choose unrefined varieties. This means that the entire grain is intact. Refined grains have their healthy outer portions removed and can be bad for your health.
Oatmeal, popcorn, brown rice, quinoa, wild rice, barley, and buckwheat are all excellent choices. These grains are also very easy to add to your diet.
Try a bowl of hearty wild rice and chicken soup, easy overnight oats with berries, or substitute brown rice in your white rice recipes.
For years health experts told us to avoid all types of fat. Thankfully we’ve moved on from that dark time. Healthy forms of fat are crucial to an anti-inflammatory diet and our overall health.
Olives and olive oil are at the top of the healthy fat list. Also weighing in are avocado oil, flaxseed oil, and hemp oil. You can also reap the benefits of these fats by eating avocados, walnuts, and flax seeds.
Try using these healthy oils for homemade salad dressing and adding walnuts and avocados to your salad. Delicious!
Foods to Avoid
When making food choices to prevent inflammation, there are foods that you should avoid. Not only do these foods accelerate inflammation, but they’re also part of an overall unhealthy diet.
Processed and Refined Sugar
Processed sugar contributes to inflammation and increases your risk of diabetes.
Avoid sugary soda and juice, candy, white bread, and syrup. You should also check the sugar content in everyday foods like ketchup, yogurt, and canned soup.
If you’re craving a sweet treat, have a piece of fruit instead.
Everyone loves French fries, but fried foods negatively impact your body’s inflammatory response. Not only do fried foods put you at risk for inflammation, but they also contribute to unhealthy glucose levels.
Additionally, the oils used to fry these foods contain saturated fats. If you’re craving french fries or other favorites, try using an air fryer to cut the fat content. You can also use your oven instead of a deep fat fryer for a delicious alternative.
Many nutritionists suggest eliminating meat, and for good reasons. Most red meat is high in saturated fat, a well-known cause of inflammation. Processed meat like hot dogs, bacon, sausage, and deli meat also contribute to inflammation and are very high in sodium.
If you’re not ready to give up meat, you have options. Grass-fed beef is a far healthier choice, and lean chicken breast is high in protein. Lean cuts of pork are also good options.
Change Your Diet, Change Your Life
Reducing inflammation is a vital part of improving your overall health. Since we know that certain foods negatively impact our health, changing our diets to include the best anti-inflammatory foods has the potential to change everything.
Are you ready to get started on the path to a healthier you? Click here to find a ChiroThin doctor in your area.