Your body responses to an infection, injury or other stimulus that your body perceives as harmful with inflammation. This will help fight the invader, as well as help promote healing. While this response is good, if inflammation becomes chronic however, it can be linked to many major diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression and Alzheimer’s.
Many foods and beverages contain anti-inflammatory compounds and can directly or indirectly assist fight inflammation in your body and reduce your risk of illness. In order to lower inflammation, you should focus on increasing your intake of fiber, whole grains, good fats, omega-3s, fruit, vegetables and soy.
Fiber helps to slow the absorption of food and keeps your blood sugar level balanced. High levels of blood sugar have shown to increase inflammation. Therefore, it is important to avoid blood sugar spikes. In addition, fiber lowers cholesterol which helps prevent heart attacks and strokes.
Whole grains which contain all three parts of the grain (germ, endosperm and bran) reduce inflammation because they contain additional inflammation-fighting substances, such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Furthermore, whole grains raise the “good” cholesterol and lower the “bad” cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. Make sure to look for the word “whole” when buying grains.
Good fats are not only essential for health but also reduce inflammation. There are two different kinds of good fats, monounsaturated fats found in nuts and certain oils and polyunsaturated fats which you can also find in nuts and oils, as well as in fish.
Omega-3s are fatty acids which reduce inflammation throughout your body. There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, vegetable oils and leafy vegetables.
Fruit and vegetables are high in natural antioxidants and polyphenols which have been found to reduce the risk of inflammation.
Soy contains isoflavones and anti-inflammatory compounds that combat free radicals that create inflammation.
Here is a list of 8 foods that help combat inflammation.
- Olive oil
- Green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale and collards)
- Nuts (almonds and walnuts)
- Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines)
- Fruit (strawberries, blueberries, cherries and oranges)
- Whole grains (including brown rice, oatmeal and popcorn)
Make sure to include plenty of these anti-inflammatory foods in your diet and avoid foods with refined grains, added sugar, trans fats as well as saturated fats that are known to increase inflammation in the body.
Contributed by Kristine James, Dietetics Student