Did you know inflammation is your body’s way to fight off harmful substances such as viruses, bacteria, or toxins? The tell-tale signs of inflammation are reddening or swelling of some body part. Other signs include pain in that area.
While inflammation is your body’s defense mechanism and inherently not bad, chronic inflammation, on the other hand, reduces your immune system’s capability to battle with these foreign substances.
When the immune system is overactive, chronic inflammation sets in. By overactive, we mean an immune system that works in the overdrive mode, as if it is malfunctioning or confused.
But is this truly the case? Or is this the result of living in an environment that’s toxic? Or perhaps stress is the root cause of this?
It’s hardly a secret that almost everybody today feels burdened with stress. Also the environment today is more toxic than ever.
One finds cancer-causing and endocrine-disrupting chemicals not only in things like household cleaners but also in food and even water.
Given all this, what else can your body do, expect to fight these risks? The main culprits are poor diet, toxins, and food allergies, and stress.
To tackle inflammation, our bodies have to deal with this unrelenting attack by immune triggers. If you’re looking for an effective way to battle inflammation, you should eat a diet that’s anti-inflammatory in nature.
Gut Health Is Paramount
As far as I’m concerned, the place where the fight against inflammation begins in the gut. By gut health, I mean how effective the digestion and healthy the gastrointestinal tract is.
If you think all of this is limited to the stomach, you’re wrong because it goes beyond that and includes large intestine, small intestine, and the colon. These organs are among the biggest in our body. Precisely for this reason, small lifestyle changes won’t have a considerable impact on them.
That said, the rewards of maintaining a healthy gut are immense. This is because the direct side effect of an unhealthy gut is chronic inflammation.
What Makes a Diet Anti-Inflammatory?
Common sense, believe it or not, is the first ingredient of the anti-inflammatory diet. The first thing you must do is cut down the intake of unhealthy foods such as sugary beverages,
sweets, processed foods, processed meats, red meat, and refined carbs (like pasta, white bread, etc.).
To reduce exposure to harmful, toxic pesticides, eat organic food. Carefully and thoroughly washing the produce will also ensure your exposure to pesticides is the bare minimum if any.
Additionally, you’ll need to reduce the intake of omega-6. This is because foods like these are known to increase inflammation.
Ideally, the ratio between omega-6 and omega-3 should be approximately 1:1. However, this ratio in the usual American diet can be up to 20:1. According to health experts, this is one of the main factors for chronic inflammation.
On one hand you should limit these inflammatory factors in your diet, and on the other hand, you should include more healthy stuff in your diet.
Anti-inflammatory diets are rich in vegetables (particularly green, leafy vegetables), fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes, and omega-3s.
However, let’s go a little further into this.
To follow a diet that’s anti-inflammatory, you should eat foods with these four characteristics: detoxifying activity, antioxidant activity, hormone-regulating activity, and nutrient density.
There are several foods which fit this description, but none does so better than these 7 extraordinary powerful foods.
Top 7 Anti-Inflammatory Foods You Should Consume Regularly
Foods with lots of antioxidants can help lower the bad effects of inflammation. Here are some foods you should include in your diet.
- Leafy Greens
Eating leafy greens is a healthy habit which you should cultivate immediately. Almost every healthy diet proposes a high intake of leafy greens.
Studies show that healing crucifiers offer your body a slew of nutrients which can tackle inflammation commendably.
Kale is a great choice. You can have it raw by adding it to your salads and smoothies.
You can also add it to your soups, as well as other dishes if you don’t like eating raw kale.
Other excellent choices include Brussels sprouts, collards, Bok choy, and cabbage.
In case you want to make your green cuisine even more effective, consider adding chlorella and spirulina because studies show that they both reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and protect against oxidative stress.
- Raw Cacao
Did you know that ancient Aztecs called raw cacao “the food of the goods”?
And guess what, they were absolutely right. After all, this plant has more than 300 invigorating compounds, out of which many have excellent anti-inflammatory properties. What’s more, the antioxidant power of this plant is 20 times more than blueberries. Additionally, it is extremely rich in minerals and vitamins.
However, this doesn’t imply you should eat one Mars bar after another. To get the maximum benefits, you should eat unprocessed and, if possible, unsweetened cacao. However, there’s nothing to worry about because raw cacao is delicious, particularly if you add it in a smoothie.
In case, you don’t wish to keep off sugar, your best bet is to eat organic chocolate, which is 70% or more cacao.
- Acai Berry
It is second in the list of the most potent antioxidant food, the first one being, of course, raw cacao. Another good thing is that it is low in sugar.
Additionally, studies have found that Acai Berry reduces inflammation and improves metabolism. In case you’ve never tried Acai Berry, let me tell you, it is an amazingly tasty fruit.
When it comes to anti-inflammatory capabilities, Turmeric is as potent as any other food, if not more. There are innumerable studies that support this claim.
The main ingredient of turmeric, curcumin, is a powerful anti-inflammatory compound. However, it is not the only compound in turmeric that offers health benefits.
Research shows curcumin helps prevent and treat arthritis, general pains and aches, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, depression, and cancer, among others.
As a matter of fact, meta-analyses report that curcumin and other healthful compounds present in turmeric display therapeutic potential for more than 600 health conditions and diseases.
However, there’s one big glitch. Curcumin, as well as other ingredients of turmeric, are not easily absorbed by the body. Some folks add a pinch of black pepper and consume this mixture with fat. For instance, coconut milk or ghee is traditionally used along with turmeric in India.
These practices may help absorb healthful compounds of turmeric. However, research shows that the best way to optimize turmeric benefits is by liposomal delivery.
This process basically encapsulates water-soluble compounds of turmeric with phospholipids. This, in turn, protects the resultant compound from breaking down.
According to a study which was published in Molecular Nutrition & Food, a peer-reviewed journal, liposomal delivery increases absorption by as much as 185 times.
A South American root, Maca is a potent hormone regulator. For many thousand years it has been used to improve vitality. Additionally, it also possesses strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- Omega-3 fatty acids
This helps heal inflammation, in addition to boosting brain function, supporting heart health, regulating mood, and balancing hormone production.
As said above, a higher ratio between Omega-6s and Omega-3s increases chronic inflammation. Many aspects of the normal American diet—such as chips, junk foods, red meat, baked goods with added sugar, and processed foods—are rich in omega-6s and hence are not good from inflammation point of view.
You can keep a healthy Omega-6s and Omega-3s ratio by:
- avoiding unhealthy foods listed above
- eating a lot of nuts, as well as seeds (particularly chia seeds and flaxseeds)
- eating plenty of leafy greens
- add wild-caught fish or a supplement containing omega-3 to your diet
Fish oil has long been hailed as a good option for upping the intake omega-3. However, algae oil is regarded by many as a potentially safer option.
One component of ginger, in particular, has very strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Its name is 6-gingerol. It is also known to be effective against migraine headaches, as well as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
These seven foods are effective in reducing inflammation, but there are other foods too with strong anti-inflammatory capabilities. These include tea, coffee, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, garlic, onion, avocados, berries, and cruciferous veggies.
How To Control Inflammation In The Body
Do you feel overwhelmed by so much information? Well, you can proceed gradually.
Your first step should be to eliminate inflammatory, processed sugar, and junk foods. In place of them eat more of whole foods.
The next step should be to include anti-inflammatory foods in your diets, such as acai berry, raw cacao, turmeric, maca, omega-3s, ginger and other foods that are anti-inflammatory in nature.
Key Takeaway: One of the biggest risks to your health is chronic inflammation. Far too many people are facing health problems because of it. However, you can avoid being the next victim.
Take charge of your health and embrace healthy foods, maintain adequate water intake, exercise regularly, learn how to manage stress effectively, and get adequate sleep.