Inflammation refers to a biological response of the immune system against harmful pathogens that enter the body. This is a protective immunity response to protect the organs, tissues and cells from toxic compounds. Without inflammation, the body cannot heal. However, this biological response is harmful to the body too. Research shows that internal inflammation is linked to chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease. The good news is, some types of foods can help bring down and prevent inflammation. Below is our list of anti-inflammatory foods:
Oily fish like herring, tuna, salmon and mackerel are packed with essential fats called omega-3 fatty acids. Essential fatty acids fight inflammation, protecting the heart, brain and lungs from inflammatory diseases. A University of Hawaii study6 found that men who ate baked or boiled fatty fish cut their risk of heart disease by up to 23%, compared to men who ate the least serving of baked or boiled oily fish.
A 2013 study found that a diet high in processed foods and vegetable oil increases the risk of inflammatory ailments. By boosting your consumption of oily fish, the body has a fighting chance against inflammation of all kinds.
Refined grains like white bread, white pasta and white rice are full of empty calories and simple carbs. On the other hand, whole grains contain essential nutrients plus compounds that stave off inflammation.
You see, unlike refined grains, whole grains contain fiber. This nutrient has the ability to reduce the levels of C-reactive protein. C-reactive protein is the precursor to inflammation in the blood. Boosting your consumption of whole grains minimizes the risk of blood-related disorders. However, do note that not all foods labeled “whole grain” are healthier than refined grains. To maximize the benefits of whole grains, make it a point to choose products that contain less sugar.
Multiple studies found that the isoflavones in soy products may reduce C-reactive proteins in the body. Soy products are particularly effective in reducing inflammation in women. A study published in the Journal of Inflammation found that isoflavones have the ability to minimize the negative effects of inflammation in the heart and bones of lab mice.
But because isoflavones in soy mimic estrogen in the body, soy products are linked to breast cancer. To maximize the benefits of soy products without increasing the risk of cancer, take reasonable portions of soymilk, edamame or tofu.
Did you know that vividly colored fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants and phytochemicals that reduce inflammation in the body? Red and green peppers are packed with capsaicin, an antioxidant that protects from inflammation. Studies show that regular consumption of chili and cayenne peppers reduces the risk of inflammatory diseases such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis.
Most vegetables that belong to the nightshade variety are packed with anti-inflammatory compounds. Just like chili and cayenne peppers, tomatoes belong to the nightshade species. Tomatoes effectively reduce inflammation of the lungs and other organs. This fruit is also loaded with lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant that minimizes inflammation and reduces the risk of cancer.
Here’s another reason to eat more garlic, pungent vegetables like garlic strengthens the immune system. Garlic works as efficiently as any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs in terms of fighting inflammation and soothing aches and pains. That’s because it contains allicin, a chemical that produces ulfenic acid. Ulfenic acid neutralizes the effects of free radical damage within the tissues!