We all know that certain foods make up a healthy diet. We also know that a healthy diet can help you maintain a healthy weight, ward off things like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
But can food really help fight inflammation?
And if it can, which foods are going to give you the healthiest hit? We’ve done our homework and found the most powerful ones.
What is Inflammation?
When your body recognizes something as a harmful invader, like a virus or harmful bacteria, it mounts a defence. Your immune system gets geared up and tries to kick those invaders out. Inflammation is part of that response.
You’ll also notice symptoms of inflammation when you have a wound or soft tissue inflammation. It’s part of the healing process.
So, in many cases, inflammation is a good thing. It’s necessary to regain balance in the body.
However, when that inflammation becomes chronic (it lasts and lasts), that’s not such a good thing. In fact, chronic inflammation has been linked to a whole list of health conditions, including:
Unfortunately, some very common foods can cause inflammation in the body. Processed foods, things like white bread and pasta, trans fats, and sugar, are all considered inflammatory.
Luckily, there are also several foods that really help fight inflammation. Here are some of the best (and we saved the very best for last).
Foods to Help Fight Inflammation
You’ve probably been told before to drink some gingerale if your stomach is upset. It’s well-known that ginger can help with digestion and digestive upset.
But did you also know it has anti-inflammatory properties? Well, it does (otherwise it wouldn’t be on this list!).
If you’re dealing with pain thanks to inflammation (think arthritis), there’s also research that shows ginger can help.
So, add some ginger to your next stir-fry or make yourself an anti-inflammatory ginger tea. Just cut up a hunk of fresh ginger and pour some boiling water over it. Add some honey and lemon and enjoy.
2. Fish & Nuts
Yes, two very different foods, but lumped together for a very specific reason. Both a variety of fish and nuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
And omega-3s are associated with lower levels of inflammation in the body. In fact, research shows that omega-3s can be an effective alternative to inflammatory drugs like NSAIDs.
Your body can’t manufacture omega-3s, so you have to get them through your diet.
Look for fatty fish like:
- Wild (not farmed) salmon
As for nuts, a few good options are:
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
Just keep in mind that nuts contain the fatty acid ALA, which is harder for your body to convert.
A refreshing berry smoothy is a great way to start your day – and not just because it tastes good.
Berries are packed with powerful antioxidant properties, like anthocyanins and ellagic acid. Research shows that these fight inflammation and cell damage.
They’re also full of vitamins and fiber. So, add some strawberries and blueberries to your salad, or throw a handful of raspberries in your bowl of yogurt.
4. Green Veg
Leafy green veggies like spinach and kale are high on the list of anti-inflammatory foods.
And lucky for you, there are bunch to choose from!
- Spinach – excellent source of fiber and antioxidants like vitamin E.
- Broccoli – full of vitamins A and B as well as vitamin A. It also contains a flavonoid called kaempferol which is thought to help fight inflammation.
- Kale – high in lutein, a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant.
- Brussel Sprouts – high in omega-3 fatty acids plus vitamins A, B and C.
5. Dark Chocolate
Told you we saved the best for last.
Rich, satisfying dark chocolate… what could be better? How about the fact that it’s chock full of anti-inflammatory antioxidants?
Flavanols are what make dark chocolate so impressive as a food to fight inflammation. Research suggests these babies can reduce the production and effect of pro-inflammatory mediators.
Pick dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa (even more is even better). It has the anti-inflammatory benefits you’re looking for.
Food for Thought
When inflammation sticks around on a chronic basis, this can lead to disease. No one wants that to happen.
Do yourself (and your whole body) a favor and stock up on some of these powerful (and delicious) foods. Fight inflammation before it starts, or give it a kick in the behind if it has already settled in.