These Anti-Inflammatory Foods Can Reboot Your Body

June 30, 2015
by Dana Poblete for Thrive Market
These Anti-Inflammatory Foods Can Reboot Your Body

Is it hot in here? My back hurts. I feel bloated. My skin is red and itchy! They may be common, but these symptoms aren't normal—and they don’t have to be written off as side effects of growing old. Sure, reaching for a bottle of ibuprofen can help, but before you head to the medicine cabinet, consider trying a diet full of anti-inflammatory foods instead.

Acute inflammation is the body’s natural response to protect itself from intrusive pathogens—it ebbs and flows, and that’s a good thing. But when this inflammation is prolonged—manifesting as acne, allergies, weight gain, digestive issues, joint pain, depression, and even neurological disorders and autoimmune diseases such as type I diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis—the clear message is that the immune system is stuck in overdrive. What causes it? Well, stress and environmental toxins are factors, but of course, diet plays a huge role.

It all starts with the good-ole gut, which is designed to fight viruses and bacteria in food before they can infect the body. When experiencing bloating, diarrhea or constipation, gas, pain, heartburn, or acid reflux, this is probably an inflammation of the digestive tract. One of the biggest agitators plaguing the modern American diet is fast food, overwhelming metabolism and the GI tract.

The best way to cool inflammation on a cellular level is to eat a diet of anti-inflammatory foods. Some nutritionists tout the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils. It’s based on the traditions of Crete, Greece, and southern Italy during the 1960s, when the region boasted super low rates of chronic diseases and long adult life expectancy compared to the rest of the world, despite minimal access to medical care.

Whether you’re going to go Mediterranean or not, registered dietitian, Kathryn Bloxsom says there are lots of foods that  are anti-inflammatory.

Fiber is one of the best and most well studied anti-inflammatory foods,” says Bloxsom. “Foods high in fiber like vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains and seeds can help lower inflammation.” Fruits and vegetables with vitamin C and E, papain (a protein digesting enzyme), beta-carotene, manganese, and lots of dietary fiber are ideal for soothing inflammation.

Eat:

“Omega-3 fatty acid is found in foods like fatty fish. Of course, when it comes to eating omega-3, it is important to balance the ratio of anti-inflammatory omega-3 to inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids; it should be between 1:1 and 1:5 omega-3 to omega-6.” Foods with a high concentration of plant-based omega-3s may also have tons of antioxidant phytonutrients and polyphenols that are anti-inflammatory.

Eat:

“Herbs and spices are also potent antioxidants. Many of them have been used for their anti-inflammatory benefits for centuries in cultures around the world, and science is starting to back up what folk lore has long known.” Turmeric is believed to be as effective as hydrocortisone in fighting inflammation. A little heat goes a long way, too.

Eat:

  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Cilantro
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Curry
  • Raw Garlic
  • Chili Peppers

Outside of these categories, green tea contains flavonoids that are naturally anti-inflammatory and reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. You can’t go wrong with broccoli—its phytonutrients help to rid the body of potentially carcinogenic compounds. Shiitake mushrooms contain compounds that may lower cholesterol, boost immune function, and fight cancer. Just don’t go breading and frying them.

“Of course, eating anti-inflammatory foods won't do much good if you are also eating pro-inflammatory foods. One of the biggest culprits is refined sugar found in processed foods.” Foods high in trans fats breed bad cholesterol (LDL), and inflame arteries, as well as welcoming free radicals into the body.

Avoid:

  • Saturated Fats
  • Refined Sugars
  • Pasta
  • Potatoes
  • Bread
  • Cream
  • Butter
  • Polyunsaturated Vegetable Oils (safflower, soybean, corn and sunflower)
  • Preserved Dried Fruit
  • Milk
  • Red Meat

So, it’s pretty simple—anything processed could leave your body feeling like it’s under siege. Foods that come from the earth can really quiet the storm inside.

Photo credit: Paul Delmont

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This article is related to: Diet, Ginger, Green Tea, Inflammation, Nutrition, Turmeric, Free radicals, Anti-inflammatory

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  • Ralph Boas

    avoid saturated fats and butter? I thought that myth had been discredited. don't you read chriskresser.com/ ?

  • Andrew Kenny

    I don't think that anything is wrong with butter and creame.

  • Sherie Hughes-Smith

    I have 3/4 of the products you list above in my cabinet right now. from Thrive! That's what for lunch;)

  • Shawn Merrill

    I can understand avoiding bread, saturated fats, pastas, and maybe butter; but the others I thought were supposed to be good for you.

  • Andrew Kenny

    Allergies to dairy are usually from the sugars found in milk which are not present in butter and cream.

  • Kathy Leon

    In praise of certain "saturated fats":

    Coconut Oil, which is a saturated fat is a "medium" chain fatty acid, which, when consumed over time relieves inflammation. I take a tablespoon a day in my morning smoothy and it has literally relieved the ache and pains in my left knee.

  • Christine

    Still spreading myths about meat, real butter and cream...the liberals just can't admit it was all a LIE.

  • LAM8

    Eating saturated fats is not unhealthy. Eating coconut oil, which is mostly saturated fats is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Painting saturated fat as unhealthy came from the era of pushing homegrown vegetable oils on the U.S. during wartime when we didn't have access to coconut oil, etc. And still today this falacy continues due to greed and profits.

    The US agriculture picture has changed so much, with the biggest percentage of our farmland (close to 90% of it) being devoted to growing GMO soybeans and GMO corn. In the U.S., we are no longer self-sufficent as far as growing our own healthy food. These two GMO crops can be found in some form or another in almost 100% of all the unhealthhy processed foods being manufactured and sold in the U.S. today. They are highly flammatory and are at the root of much of the ipain-causing nflammation, metabolic sickness and the main cause of Type II Diabetes that is rampant in America today. We now import most of our healthy foods and vegetables from other countries, just so we can continue to grow the poisonous GMO food crops!

    If something happened tomorrow to cut us off from our food imports, we as a country would be in dire straits. It would be like a nationwide food dessert, not unlike what the poor inner-city population faces on a daily basis already.