Inflammation is traditionally thought of as a "bad guy" in our bodies, but this isn’t always the case. A proper inflammatory response is an essential function of our immune system that can help us to stay strong and healthy in many ways.
But when inflammation goes into hyper-mode or remains present for too long then it can cause damage to our cells, tissues and organs. An unhealthy inflammatory response is associated with some of the more problematic diseases like heart disease, cancer, depression, dementia and diabetes.
What kinds of things can trigger an excess of inflammation? Stress is one of the primary culprits, along with dietary and environmental factors (toxins).
The good news is that when you clean up your nutrition and take action to relieve some stress (exercise, meditation…) your body’s inflammation levels can be lowered dramatically without the use of potentially dangerous drugs.
The question is, which foods are best for lowering inflammation? Here’s a list of 10 common foods known to help our bodies reduce inflammation and heal faster.
1. Leafy green vegetables
Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and bok choy are rich in flavonoids (powerful, plant-based antioxidants) that restore cellular health, which is essential for a healthy inflammatory response.
2. Healthy “super seeds”
Hemp, flax, pumpkin and chia are examples of “super seeds” which offer both omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid) and omega-6 fatty acids, which help to keep our immune system from overproducing cytokines and other molecules which can lead to inflammation.
One of the power-house fruits, berries are special because of their high antioxidant levels, compounds that prevent or delay cell damage and reduce inflammation.
Wanuts are a fantastic source of omega-3’s, phytonutrients and trace minerals, all of which help to fight inflammation. Walnuts also support healthy brain function and provide essential nutrients for our immune system.
6. Probiotic foods
The good bacterial organisms that live in your gut are integral to a healthy immune system, and thus healthy inflammation.
When the bad bacteria outnumber the good ones, there’s often an associated heightened inflammatory response. So one of the most important things we can do to help our inflammation levels is to eat foods that have beneficial bacteria. Foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir and yogurt.
Probiotics have also been shown to help with our brains, our hormone levels, our digestion, our immune system and even our mood!
7. Coconut oil
Coconut oil has the kinds of fats that our bodies need. It has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti-oxidant properties. Coconut oil is also very beneficial to our brains and our guts.
Beets have essential compounds which help our bodies to repair cellular damage caused by inflammation. Beets also improve our blood flow and supply potassium and magnesium, two important nutrients many people are deficient in.
9. Broccoli (+ brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage)
These vegetables are packed with antioxidants, flavonoids, carotenoids, and essential vitamins. These nutrients help to lower oxidative stress in the body and help to reduce inflammation.
In general, a diet high in animal foods is not the best if you have problems with inflammation. However, if you’re looking for a non plant-based food that can help lower inflammation then wild-caught salmon and other oily fish (including mackerel and sardines) are some of best choices. These fish are loaded with omega-3’s which is beneficial in fighting many inflammatory diseases.
Last, but not least, turmeric is one of the healthiest things we can eat if we have problems with inflammation. It is a root that is used to make turmeric spice, an ingredient commonly used in many asian dishes. The active ingredient we’re looking for is curcumin. It’s good to put turmeric in your food regularly, but if you’re looking for a more powerful aid to fight inflammation then visit the health food store for some concentrated Curcumin. This compound
has been studied in many clinical trials and is proven to be a very powerful, and non-toxic anti-inflammatory.
Eating more of these foods will definitely help you to reduce inflammation in your body. But don't forget that in order to effectively lower inflammation long-term (and ultimately become healthier) you must also eat fewer foods that cause inflammation. It's very difficult to put out a fire while you're adding fuel at same time. Stay tuned for our next blog topic on 8 Everyday Foods That Cause Inflammation.
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