03/14/2018 Fall in Love With These Inflammation-Fighting Foods
Alli Walsh, Social Media Strategist
Fall in Love With These Inflammation-Fighting Foods
In honor of National Nutrition Month, Supplementally Speaking is taking a look at the way different foods can help you fight inflammation.
Inflammation is a popular buzzword because so many everyday things trigger it, from a twist on the playing field (swollen ankle) to a trip to the pizza joint (heartburn). But so can ongoing work stress, a smoking habit or an autoimmune condition like rheumatoid arthritis.
Inflammation has its purpose, but…
Put simply, inflammation is your body’s reaction to stress and can have both short-term and long-term effects. Acute inflammation, a result of your immune response to infection and injury, protects your body from harm—think of that swollen ankle or a mosquito bite. But chronic inflammation, the result of ongoing immune system distress, has been linked to many diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, depression and Alzheimer’s.1
Fortunately, there’s also a link between inflammation and the foods you eat. Some foods have been shown to help inflammation and others can actually cause it—so why not get familiar with the foods to choose? Let’s take a closer look.
Anti-inflammatory foods to choose
So here’s a list—for starters—of the foods you’d be wise to choose if you’re looking for an anti-inflammatory health boost:
- Green leafy vegetables (e.g. spinach and kale)
- Cruciferous vegetables (e.g. broccoli and cabbage)
- Fatty fish
- Fruits (e.g. cherries, raspberries, and blackberries)
- Mushrooms (e.g. shitake, enokitake, maitake, and oyster)
- Lowfat dairy
- Sweet potatoes
Cook or season with…
- Olive oil
- Chili peppers
- White, green, or oolong tea
- Red wine (no more than 1-2 servings per day)
And treat yourself to (but try to limit!) healthy sweets…
- Unsweetened dried fruit
- Fruit sorbet
- Dark chocolate (at least 70% pure cacao)
Inflammatory foods to avoid
Processed foods, overly greasy foods, overly sweet foods, and high-glycemic foods all cause or contribute to inflammation, so avoid them or enjoy in moderation:
- Refined carbohydrates (e.g. pastries and white bread and pasta)
- Fried foods (e.g. French fries)
- Sugar-sweetened beverages (e.g. soda)
- Processed meat and red meat
- Shortening, margarine and lard
Foodies, get familiar with the anti-Inflammatory vocab
As you can see, what most people think of as a “healthy food” is probably a good pick! These foods have anti-inflammatory effects and/or enhance immune function. They can lesson symptoms, reduce inflammation and lower associated health risks. Why? Because they’re made up of naturally occurring, largely plant-based chemicals, compounds and phytonutrients such as…
- Antioxidants – Examples include vitamins A, E, C; carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene; and selenium 2
- Polyphenols – Examples include phenolic acids, flavonoids, anthocyanidins, resveratrol, stilbenes, curcumins, and lignans 3
- Omega-3 fatty acids – Examples include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) 4
So next time you’re at the grocery store, planning your weekly menu, or browsing a restaurant menu, think about your immune system and what it craves!
1 Publishing, H. H. (n.d.). Foods that fight inflammation. Retrieved October 20, 2017, from health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation.
2 French, A. (2017, October 03). What Foods Are High in Vitamins C & E & Beta-Carotene? Retrieved October 20, 2017, from livestrong.com/article/274760-what-foods-are-high-in-vitamins-c-e-beta-carotene/.
3 Kahn, M. J. (2015, January 24). 10 Best Polyphenol-Rich Superfoods Why You Should Be Eating Them. Retrieved October 20, 2017, from mindbodygreen.com/0-17145/10-best-polyphenol-rich-superfoods-why-you-should-be-eating-them.html.
4 Your Omega-3 Family Shopping List. (n.d.). Retrieved October 20, 2017, from webmd.com/diet/guide/your-omega-3-family-shopping-list#1.
- Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid | Anti-Inflammatory Foods. (2017, October 06). Retrieved October 20, 2017, from drweil.com/diet-nutrition/anti-inflammatory-diet-pyramid/dr-weils-anti-inflammatory-food-pyramid/.
- Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Road to Good Health? (n.d.). Retrieved October 20, 2017, from webmd.com/diet/anti-inflammatory-diet-road-to-good-health#1.
- 10 Foods That Fight Inflammation. (2016, June 15). Retrieved October 20, 2017, from prevention.com/food/food-remedies/10-foods-that-help-fight-inflammation.
- 6 Surprising Causes Of Inflammation-And What You Can Do About It. (2015, June 08). Retrieved October 20, 2017, from prevention.com/health/inflammation-causes.
- Nutrition and pain. (2016, July 26). Retrieved October 20, 2017, from mayoclinic.org/nutrition-and-pain/art-20208638.
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