Imagine trying to open a jar of peanut butter and feeling excruciating pain, or not being able to walk around the block because your feet are throbbing. For the 350 million people worldwide who suffer from arthritis, these are two of the many symptoms that they experience regularly. In fact, one of us — Regina — is among those 350 million.
Arthritis is a form of inflammation, of which the Western diet — with high intakes of red meat, sugary beverages and processed and fried foods — is highly associated. The Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, is associated with much lower levels of inflammation and is an overall healthier way to eat. Here are four ways you can fight inflammation while enjoying a delicious way of life.
Garlic, Herbs and Spices
These ingredients — and all plant foods — contain naturally occurring plant nutrients called phytonutrients. Until science determines the exact amounts needed, use garlic, turmeric, ginger, oregano, rosemary, thyme and pepper as part of your daily diet.
Dried? Fresh? It doesn’t matter. Try spices and herbs to replace salt and kick up the flavor.
This one may surprise you. Fiber ranks as one of the most anti-inflammatory food components. For example, dry beans and peas (also known as pulses) and whole grains contain what’s called fermentable fiber, which cuts down on inflammatory reactions.
Vegetables and Fruits
These are big sources of nutrients such as vitamin C and beta-carotene and phytonutrients such as flavonols and flavones. There are two goals when it comes to fruit and vegetables: increase the quantity of servings you eat daily and broaden the variety you consume.
This inflammation fighter can be found in cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna, and in plant sources such as flax and algae.
Keep in mind that eating one or two anti-inflammatory foods while maintaining an otherwise unhealthy diet is not the answer. Instead, focus on improving your overall diet over time. The key to the anti-inflammatory diet is the positive effect from consuming a variety of the foods listed above.