My BFF texted me an article from Well+Good that she thought would be a good blog post and she is right! Six Inflammation Foods No One Talks About addresses the recent attention in the general medical community about inflammation in the body.
The article points out that temporary inflammation when your body’s white blood cells and chemicals fight off injury or infection is a good thing but chronic inflammation is a different situation. Chronic inflammation happens when the body can not resolve acute inflammation and damages the body. It is the source of many, if not all, diseases including cancer, obesity, Alzheimers, heart disease and even acne. Stress, lack of exercise, smoking all can trigger inflammation but dietary choices play a big role. Take carbohydrates for example-the chemical reaction between sugars and proteins produce pro-inflammatory compounds called AGEs (advanced glycation end products).
While the main culprit is sugar (I’ll address that pandora’s box another time) Well+Good’s article pointed out lesser known offenders including, surprisingly, some popular vegan choices and sugar alternatives. Click on the link above to get the full scoop.
On a more positive note, here are the top ANTI- inflammatory foods that have the uncanny ability to squelch inflammation:
Dark Leafy Greens: Collards, kale, Swiss chard, spinach, to name a few, contain powerful antioxidants, flavanoids, Vitamin C and carotenoids that protect against cellular damage. Cook them, eat them raw and juice them (here is my favorite green juicing drink).
Tea: While all teas, black, green, white, count, Matcha green tea really packs a punch with over 17xs the antioxidants of wild blueberries and 7xs more than dark chocolate.
Blueberries: They rate pretty high of all fruits and vegetables in antioxidants and are lower in sugar than most fruits.
Spices: Liberally season your food away with the likes of cloves, ginger, rosemary and tumeric which are the top anit-inflammatory spices. Other spices that make the grade include allspice, cinnamon, oregano, pumpkin pie and apple pie spice blends, sage, thyme, marjoram,
Animal-based Omega-3 Fats: These are mostly found in fatty fish like wild Alaskan salmon and other fishes. Omega-3 fats can also be found in walnuts, flax and hemp.
Fermented Vegetables: Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, pickles all help your gut flora which is important for a well-functioning immune system (and that well functioning immune system staves off chronic inflammation). Fermented foods also rid the body of toxins like heavy metals and pesticides, both contributors to inflammation.
Asian Mushrooms: Shiitake and other Asian varieties of mushrooms are rich in compounds that inhibit oxidative stress. They are easy to add to soups or stir fries.
Garlic: The Mediterranean cultures and other older cultures have known the power of this vegetable. Well know for its anti-viral and anti-fungal properties, garlic has been shown to have its therapeutic properties in sulfur, specifically allicin. The acid produced by allicin reacts faster with dangerous free radicals than any other known compound.
The best way to address and/or prevent inflammation is to focus on eating a whole foods diet that regularly includes the above-mentioned foods. Eating mainly whole foods also has the benefit of crowding out the foods that do cause chronic inflammation, i.e.; highly processed carbohydrates such as white bread, chips, crackers, cookies, fast foods many of which also contain inflammation-promoting refined sugar and partially hydrogenated vegetables oils and shortenings.
To help keep you focused, check out Dr Weil’s interactive Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid that is a great reference tool in choosing the right anti-inflammatory foods.
Now that you are armed with lots of information on the bad guy, chronic inflammation, go kick all those dreaded and debilitating diseases to the curb!