People with chronic inflammation, such as those who have autoimmune disease, are often very conscientious about things that can increase or decrease inflammation in the body. But inflammation, even at very low levels, can affect anyone and everyone. The worst part is that it typically isn’t something you can physically feel. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t going on or that it can’t do damage.
What causes inflammation in the first place?
- certain medical conditions
- excess body weight
- lack of activity
- poor sleep (quality and quantity)
- certain foods consumed in excess (especially foods high in sugar, saturated fats and trans fats)
So what foods can fight inflammation?
Fruits & Vegetables
Choose whole fruits and vegetables. Don’t be tempted by “high antioxidant” supplements and products with added antioxidants. In fact, some research suggests these products may do more harm than good. Look for bright colors and buy organic when you can afford it. Eat a variety of colors. Each color has its own unique set of antioxidants and powerhouse nutrients.
Vegetables and fruits high in antioxidants:
- Fruits: berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries), apples, citrus fruits
- Veggies: leafy greens, sweet potatoes, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes
High Fiber Foods
Fiber can help prevent sharp spikes in blood sugar. This means less stress on the body, which equals less inflammation.
- Whole grains
Unsaturated Fats & Essential Fatty Acids (Omega 3s)
You’ve probably heard you should have omega 3s for heart health, but these powerful nutrients have many more benefits. One of those? Reducing inflammation! This is one of those nutrients that may be difficult to obtain only from foods. As with any supplement, check with your doc first, but if you get the OK, look for a fish oil that contains both EPA and DHA.
Foods high in unsaturated fats or omega 3s:
- Oils like olive, canola, safflower, sunflower and soybean
- Fatty fish like salmon, anchovies and sardines
- Flax and chia seeds
Herbs and Spices
Just like with fruits and vegetables, different herbs and spices have their own unique anti-inflammatory properties so variety is key. And again, the real thing is better than the supplement. Plus, they make your food taste and smell delicious, so what’s not to love? The list below is of some of the more common herbs and spices that fight inflammation.
Anti-inflammatory herbs & spices:
- pepper (red and black)
And there you have it. Add these foods to your weekly grocery list and you’ll be on your way to fighting that pesky inflammation!