We live in a world where we document most everything in pictures or on social media. So, it’s natural that most people would want to avoid any unnecessary inflammation for their next photo op. Not only can inflammation affect us aesthetically, but inflammation can mean (or lead to) a myriad of harmful and adverse dispositions on the body, including stress, arthritis, and some cancers. In fact, inflammation is one of the leading—and initial—signs that toxins or other harmful substances are inside the body. The body begins to swell and inflame as the first sign of healing triggered by the immune system. But, what if there was something that we could do to help the body fight inflammation and reverse damage? We can, by feeding our body and cells healthy, anti-inflammatory foods.
We spoke with Registered Nurse Rebecca Lee, founder of Remedies for Me, on the nutrients and sustenance to add to our pantries to help fight inflammation. Read on as we break down our ten favorite finds.
According to Lee, flaxseeds are packed with polyphenols. “Known as a probiotic (good bacteria) regulator, polyphenols work in our gut to fight and prevent yeast buildup.” Having large amounts of yeast like Candida in the stomach can cause issues like constipation, gas, and diarrhea. So, it’s ideal to have polyphenols in our system to help keep everything in balance. Along with polyphenols, flaxseeds are also a great source of lignans. “These are powerful antioxidants that fight inflammation, in addition to promoting cellular health and slowing down aging.” A great way to include flaxseed into your diet is by adding it to your morning smoothie, cereal, or granola.
Who knew that satisfying your sweet tooth by eating chocolate also combats inflammation. We call that a win-win. Dark chocolate is filled with rich antioxidants called flavanols. Lee states that “flavanols help reduce inflammation in the body by keeping endothelial cells within the arteries healthy.” For the greatest anti-inflammatory benefit, “choose dark chocolate that contains at least 70 percent cocoa.”
Like many berries, blueberries offer a kick of health to our body’s systems. They are packed with quercetin, an anti-inflammatory agent. Therefore, blueberries are able to help maintain and properly regulate our immune systems. This helps fight off outside stress that may cause our bodies to inflame. This stress includes poor diet and lack of sleep. “Blueberries contain the antioxidant anthocyanins. [This] reduces inflammation by boosting the body’s immune system and reducing the risk of heart disease,” Lee states.
A popular ingredient in many Asian cuisines like Indian and Pakistani, turmeric is an excellent source for anti-inflammation. Lee claims that “turmeric is loaded with the active compound curcumin. [This] is more effective at fighting inflammation than aspirin or ibuprofen (without the negative side effects that can come from medication).” Some great ways to incorporate turmeric into your diet is by making it into a tea. Or by making a homemade yogurt dish topped with turmeric and a drizzle of honey for sweetness.
It does not necessarily combat inflammation on its own. However, black pepper is wonderful for inflammation when paired together with an anti-inflammatory substance like turmeric. As Lee states, “that pepper allows the body to better absorb minerals since it contains piperine. [This] increases the absorption rate by 2,000 percent.”
Chia seeds are no longer just our favorite pets bloomed on the mantel, instead they are a superfood filled with vitamins, minerals, and omega-3s. “Since chia seeds are a great source of fatty acids, they can actually reverse the effects of inflammation by regulating cholesterol,” says Lee. “Chia seeds are also high in the fatty acid linoleic. [This] helps the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.”
Salmon, like many organic and wild-caught fish—including mackerel, cod liver oil, herring, oysters, sardines, caviar, and anchovies—is a great source of fatty acids. These can act as healing aids for diseases caused by inflammation. Such diseases include: arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease. Many health food stores will sell fish oil in capsule and tablet form. While not as fresh as fish, this can also be an excellent source of the Omega-3 fatty acids. (Just make sure that the brand is reputable and organic).
Rich in vitamins A, D, E, and K, along with minerals like Omega-3, many leafy greens, such as kale and spinach are “full of anti-inflammatory substances that can reduce the needs of over the counter pain medication,” says Lee. They greatly reduce and assist with combating chronic inflammation. When grocery shopping, the general rule of thumb when it comes to leafy greens is the darker the better. Another point to remember is cooking greens can diminish their nutritional value. Therefore, eating raw leafy greens in a salad is healthier, as they are full of untampered nutrients.
They are a great addition to your salad for texture and a crunch. Plus, walnuts are also a great source of nutrients combating inflammation. Walnuts are full of ALA, otherwise known as linoleic acid, which is a natural anti-inflammatory fatty acid packed with Omega-3s. Walnuts and walnut oil are a great source of fatty acid for vegetarians and others who can not consume fish, or fish by-products. Or simply for those just looking for a healthy snack.
There are many different kinds of mushrooms out there, like portobello, shiitake, and lion’s mane. So, it’s good to know that they’re a great source in combating inflammation that can be seen in obesity. According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, the compounds and elements found in mushrooms assist in aiding tissue inflammation in the human body, which overtime could lead to metabolic diseases.