Although acute inflammation is vital for our healing process, chronic inflammation might lead to a number of illnesses. According to the American Health Association, chronic inflammation might cause diseases such as atherosclerosis, arthritis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, food intolerances, diabetes, fibromyalgia, heart disease and in some cases even cancer. It also accelerates the aging process.
Due to the modern diet and lifestyle many people probably suffer from chronic inflammation. Processed food, sugar, hydrogenated and trans fats, stress, malnutrition, obesity, pollution, heavy metals and excessive exercise lead to this condition.
Nutrition is a very powerful way to protect your cells from inflammation. Here are 12 foods that I think you should include into your diet in order to prevent and combat inflammation:
Papaya is an excellent source of vitamins C, E and beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A), which have powerful antioxidant properties. This delicious tropical fruit also contains protein-digesting enzymes papain and chymopapain, which help reduce inflammation.
Blueberries are incredibly rich in various phytonutrients (such as flavanols, anthocyanins, hydroxycinnamic acids, to name a few) that function both as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in the body.
Broccoli is a highly nutritious vegetable that contains anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer phytonutrients such as sulforaphane and kaempferol, which help relieve inflammation and oxidative stress, battle allergies and get rid of potentially carcinogenic compounds. It's also high in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant.
Studies have shown that ginger contains pharmacological properties of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It also contains antioxidant properties, which help protect your cells from inflammation.
Cranberries have been shown to contain important anti-inflammatory phytonutrients that protect the cardiovascular system and many parts of the digestive tract (mouth, gums, stomach and colon).
Avocados are absolutely amazing in protecting your cells, as they contains various anti-inflammatory nutrients: phytosterols, carotenoid antioxidants (including lutein, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, etc.), vitamins C and E, minerals such as manganese, selenium and zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and many other beneficial compounds. It’s safe to say that avocado is an anti-inflammation superstar!
Curcumin is the active ingredient of turmeric, and it has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Curcumin may relieve arthritis pains even better than some pharmaceuticals like hydrocortisone and Motrin, but with few or no side effects.
Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are some of the most powerful anti-inflammatory compounds found in nature. These amazing little seeds contain more omega-3 fatty acids by weight than salmon, but without the side effects of heavy metals or hormones found in fish.
Red cabbage contains powerful phytonutrient anthocyanin that is a well-documented anti-inflammatory agent. It also contains significant amount of polyphenols that help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
Walnuts are rich in alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, which is converted to the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA in the body. Dietary alpha-linolenic acid has been shown to calm inflammation and protect the cells in certain at-risk patients. However remember, that just like other nuts, walnuts — are very high in fat, so they should be consumed in moderation.
Celery is a good source of cell-protecting antioxidants, such as vitamin C, beta-carotene and manganese. It also contains various phenolic antioxidants, which provide powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. These phytonutrients may decrease oxidative damage to body fat and risk of oxidative damage to blood vessel walls.
Hemp seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids which, as previously mentioned, are powerful anti-inflammatory compounds. They also contain gamma-linolenic acid, or GLA, which is a beneficial type of omega-6 fatty acid that works in the body as an anti-inflammatory messenger.
Your guide to living whole and well. Emma Olliff is a Registered Nutritional Therapist, wellness expert, food lover, and advocate for healthy living!