Inflammation is your immune system’s reaction to irritation, injury, or infection. It’s a normal response (actually a good thing), and it’s a natural part of healing. But when chronic inflammation occurs inside our bodies, which we cannot see, it can become a big problem. Research has linked chronic inflammation to many serious health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease.
The good news is that a healthy diet may help support healthy levels of inflammation in the body and support the body’s immune system.
Limit or avoid these foods:
- Refined grains such as white bread and desserts made with white flour
- Sugar and salt
- Saturated and trans fats
Include these foods:
- Opt for fatty fish high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and anchovies. Aim for 2-3 servings a week (a serving size is 3.5 ounces (99 grams), or about the size of a deck of cards).
- Ensure half of your plate contains fruit and vegetables including berries and cherries as well as dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
- Choose plant-based proteins such as beans, nuts and seeds.
- Reach for whole grains instead of refined ones. Replace white rice with brown, black or wild varieties. Choose whole oats or barley instead of cream of wheat and whole wheat bread instead of white.
- Include heart-healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds in your diet.
- Enjoy foods that are high in antioxidants like dark chocolate, fresh herbs and tea.
Consider dietary supplements which may have anti-inflammatory properties:
- Turmeric (Curcuma longa): This spice contains compounds called curcuminoids, which research has found to possess considerable anti-inflammatory activity, in part due to their ability to inhibit the synthesis of inflammatory prostaglandins.
- Fish Oil: Fish oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids (including EPA and DHA), which research shows may help fight inflammation throughout your body. If you’re not eating the recommended amount of omega-3 fatty acids described above, a fish oil supplement may be right for you.
- Bromelain: A mixture of enzymes found in the pineapple plant, typically extracted from the stem. Bromelain has anti-inflammatory properties and has been used for centuries in Central and South America to reduce inflammation. Proteolytic enzymes, such as those in bromelain have been shown to inhibit various inflammatory processes in the body.
- Glucosamine: Glucosamine, which is produced naturally in the body, plays a key role in building cartilage, the tough connective tissue that cushions the joints. Research shows glucosamine may help reduce inflammation in the joints and may be more effective than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, without the side effects.
- Quercetin: Quercetin is a bioflavonoid found in red wine, grapefruits, onions, apples, black tea, and, in lesser amounts, in leafy green vegetables and beans. Quercetin may have anti-inflammatory properties and research has shown it may inhibit the release of histamines, which are chemicals that cause allergic reactions.
Overall, good nutrition and some simple dietary changes may help support healthy levels of inflammation in your body, which may ultimately lead to better health and may help reduce your chance of developing many of the chronic conditions that plague us.
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