Change your eating habits to decrease your inflammation. Look no further, your solution is in the kitchen.
Inflammation is your body's response to infection or irritation. Although inflammation is a natural part of the healing process, chronic inflammation can trigger a number of diseases and produce a wide range of symptoms, including pain. Chronic inflammation can be caused by many things, such as food allergies, infections, reactions to medications, and even foods you consume on a regular basis. In this post, I've rounded up 7 anti-inflammatory foods that will help to reduce your risk of developing chronic inflammation and reduce your pain.
What is an anti-inflammatory diet?
The idea of an anti-inflammatory diet is to avoid foods that cause inflammation and incorporate more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, and food rich in omega-3 fatty acids. This change in your diet will give you more antioxidants, fibers, and chemicals from plants that, when working together, will help you achieve a healthier status.
The benefits of foods in an anti-inflammatory diet can help you with conditions that cause chronic pain, like fibromyalgia, gout, or osteoarthritis. It doesn’t mean that it will cure you since many chronic conditions have a genetic reason to affect you. However, by decreasing or eliminating foods that can trigger an inflammatory response in your body and adding those that are full of good nutrients, you are adding a boost in health and helping to reduce pain.
Therefore, as you have noticed, this is basically to follow a plant-based diet. Since the Mediterranean diet consists of eating the foods that are considered that are anti-inflammatory, this is the diet that is promoted as having anti-inflammatory effects. In other words, there is not an exact anti-inflammatory diet, it is just a modification and transition to a healthier way of eating.
7 Anti-inflammatory foods to incorporate into your diet
Pack your pantry or fridge with these foods and start enjoying all their health benefits.
Berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
Berries are full of antioxidants and other plant chemicals that elicit health benefits. They also help your body to produce more Natural Killer cells which are the ones that help to fight infections, therefore, reducing the inflammation associated with it. And besides the anti-inflammatory properties, studies have shown that berries help to lower the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Because of its high content of omega-3 fatty acids, it has the ability to suppress the body’s inflammatory response. This translates to lower levels of pain. Also, the omega-3 found in salmon helps to protect your heart and brain.
Garlic is another food that can help you reduce inflammation because of its antioxidant activity. Besides that, garlic can help you prevent diseases like cancer, diabetes, blood pressure, and metabolic disorder.
Curcumin is the active component of turmeric and it is responsible for giving turmeric its anti-inflammatory properties. A study in patients with knee osteoarthritis showed that turmeric was as effective as taking ibuprofen and with the advantage of producing fewer gastrointestinal side effects.
Chili peppers are rich in antioxidants, which help ease inflammation. And they also have capsaicin, which is responsible for the “hot” sensation. This “hot” sensation also serves to trick the brain. When in contact with the skin, instead of someone feeling the pain, the person will feel the hotness produced by the capsaicin, "masking" the pain feeling. This ingredient is used in different lotions, creams, and patches to relieve pain.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Its high concentration of antioxidants and healthy fats make olive oil (extra virgin) a very good anti-inflammatory food. This is the reason it is included in the Mediterranean diet. Extra virgin olive oil is another food that works similarly to ibuprofen, thus contributing to its anti-inflammatory actions. As a healthy fat, it reduces the levels of C-reactive protein, a protein that gets elevated in your blood in response to an inflammatory process, as it happens in conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
This fruit has polyphenols which give anti-inflammatory properties since they are powerful antioxidants. In addition, pomegranate is good for preventing cancer and diabetes and it also offers protection to the liver.
Other foods that you can add to the list are nuts, tomatoes, avocados, and green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale. Also, tuna, sardines, oranges, strawberries, and apples, as well as legumes like beans and peas.
What to avoid to get the most benefits of the anti-inflammatory foods?
To avoid canceling out the anti-inflammatory effects of these foods, you can modify your diet by cutting out unhealthy foods. For example,
1. Processed foods (hot dogs, bacon, nuggets, frozen food, etc.)
2. Red meat (beef, burgers, steak)
3. Sweetened food (cakes, pastries, sweets, carbonated drinks)
4. Trans and saturated fats (full-fat dairy products, coconut oil, butter)
5. Refined carbohydrate foods (white rice, white bread, pasta)
By doing these changes, you are also improving your health and that of your family.
Complement your diet changes for better results
If you complement your diet changes with an exercise routine, proper hydration, vitamins, and mineral supplements, avoid excess alcohol and smoking, and implement ways to reduce stress, the results will be exponential for your health. Remember that eating just one of the anti-inflammatory foods is not enough to get the desired effects. It is important to have a balanced diet that includes several of these foods, so their benefits add up in your favor.
In summary, inflammation is the body's response to injury or infection. Chronic inflammation can lead to joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. One of the best ways to combat inflammation is through a healthy and balanced diet. The Mediterranean diet is the most recommended due to its fundamentals of a plant-based diet, which turns out to have the foods that you need to fight inflammation and reduce pain. Don’t forget that your changes in your eating habits will help you reduce inflammation, but they are not a cure. So, maximize your results by avoiding or reducing the inflammatory foods from your diet and incorporating healthy lifestyle habits.
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