Inflammation is a commonly discussed health condition. In essence, inflammation occurs when the body’s white blood cells and immune proteins work to protect the body from infection and foreign substances, such as bacteria and viruses. Though inflammation is part of the healing process in the body’s immune system, there is such thing as too much inflammation, where your body can actually suffer damage.
As people begin to age, the odds of experiencing inflammation begin to increase. This is especially true for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (RA), heart disease and thyroid issues.
Additionally, certain foods that are high in sugar and saturated fat can contribute to inflammation as well.
On the other hand, there are foods that a person can eat that work in the opposite way – as anti-inflammatories. That’s why it’s important for everyone, from your aging loved ones to you today, to pay close attention to the foods you’re consuming.
Here are five foods to add to your plate to help keep inflammation at bay!
Fatty fish – Yes, it may sound counter-intuitive, but eating foods that are high in fats can help reduce inflammation. The key is choosing the right fats. Oily fish like sardines, tuna and salmon are all great examples of fish that are filled with omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation. But if your family member isn’t a big fan of fish, there’s no reason to miss out! Taking a physician-approved fish oil supplement is an easy way to reap the benefits of these anti-inflammatory foods without actually having to eat them.
Fibrous foods – Foods that contain fiber can aid in maintaining a healthy gastrointestinal (GI) balance. Be sure to eat foods that include both soluble (which helps to slow down digestion) and insoluble fiber (which is considered to be healthy because it has a laxative effect, which helps prevent constipation). Both types of fiber can be found in foods like beans, fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Dark leafy greens – The Vitamin E that’s found in dark leafy greens has been shown to protect the body from pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines. Spinach, broccoli, collard greens and kale are all great sources of this vitamin. These types of vegetables also have higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals like calcium and iron to help in the fight against inflammation.
Spices – Ginger and turmeric, in particular, have been shown through various studies to act as anti-inflammatories. Turmeric contains a protein that regulates the immune system – aka, the source of inflammation. Ginger, on the other hand, helps to reduce inflammation in the intestines due to its ability to inhibit the creation of inflammatory compounds.
Garlic and onions – Although this combo might not be the best for your breath, it is useful for avoiding inflammation. Both garlic and onions have been shown to work much like NSAID pain medications.
Garlic contains allicin, and evidence has shown that this can aid in decreasing the levels of homocysteine, which is a byproduct of the protein breakdown that’s associated with inflammation and blood vessel damage.
Similarly, onions contain allicin and a comparable anti-inflammatory chemical that includes the phytonutrient quercetin, which both break down in order to produce free radical-fighting sulfenic acid.
Like the old saying goes, too much of anything is never a good thing and this notion applies to inflammation as well.
Though it might sound like an uphill battle, there are ways to eat to combat inflammation. By consuming a balance of healthy foods that are rich in the vitamins and minerals that fight inflammation-triggering toxins, you will be better equipped to keep inflammation in check.