The research jury is in. The verdict? Chronic inflammation is the root cause of the most serious illnesses, including heart disease, cancers, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Inflammation on the surface of the body presents as swelling, redness, heat, and pain. It is the cornerstone of the body’s healing response, and brings more immune activity to a site of injury or infection. Inflammation can also manifest internally; when this persists, it damages the body and causes illness.
Stress, lack of exercise, genetic predisposition, and exposure to toxins (environmental chemicals, cigarette smoke, chemicals in foods) all contribute to chronic inflammation, but dietary choices play the biggest role. Learning how specific foods influence the inflammatory process is the best strategy for containing it and reducing long-term disease risks.
Along with disease prevention, an anti-inflammatory diet can assist in weight loss or gain (if needed), improvement in mood and gut health. So what are the best foods to combat inflammation? Here’s a short list with a few of my favorites:
1. Organic Berries
These anti inflammatory powerhouses are filled with polyphenol and antioxidants that fight chronic disease and cancer. Blueberries contain quercetin, a flavonoid, which also fights inflammation.
2. Dark Leafy Greens
Spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and collard greens are extremely high in antioxidants vitamin A (carotenoids), E and C, as well as vitamin K. They all protect the brain against oxidative stress caused by free radical damage.
3. Wild-caught Fatty Fish
Alaskan salmon, cod, sardines, mackerel, and rainbow trout contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
Research reveals omega-3’s yield consistent relief from inflammation, and may help lower risk of heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids also show a protective function in the brain and are important for mood, memory and brain function.
Nuts contain significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as other phytonutrients—especially walnuts. Studies associated nuts with reduced markers of inflammation can help protect against metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Garlic contains sulfur compounds that prevent the activation of inflammatory enzymes in the body. It stimulates the immune system to fight disease.
6. Organic Coffee
A 2015 study in Greece found people who drink coffee are half as likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Researchers found coffee lowered levels of serum amyloid, an inflammatory marker in blood. The reason could be coffee contains polyphenols and other anti-inflammatory compounds. Coffee is one of the most pesticide-ridden plants in the world, so make sure to buy organic.
There are many more examples of anti-inflammatory foods to help resist disease and increase quality of life. Almost any non-starchy vegetable and most fruits are anti-inflammatory. Keep adding them daily.
I recently read a quote by a cancer survivor who summed up what the anti-inflammatory foods did for him:
“I’ve changed to a whole food, anti-inflammatory diet and made numerous lifestyle changes. If cancer wants me, it will have to work hard to find me.”
That about sums it up. The more of these foods you eat, the harder disease will have to work to find you.
“While fairly healthy, persistent joint and gut challenges lead me to Lindy. She is fantastic. She helped me understand how to manage my diet to minimize the minor and major discomforts in my health, as well as helped me understand what I needed to add to my diet. Identifying major offenders and adding nutrients that tested low helped my joints feel better. The process also improved my chronic sinus problems and dropped 2 inches off my waist in less than two months.
It was a great experience and has put me on a course of life-long learning about how to pay more attention to the real causes of health issues.” —J. Stevens
Lindy Ford, RD, LDN is a Registered Dietitian and licensed Nutritionist with Lindy Ford Nutrition & Wellness, LLC, Wilmington, NC. lindyfordwellness.com or 910.899.7954. Subscribe to her YouTube Channel for more gut health info: www.youtube.com/channel/UC_2NxGqQpr2r0VBp221LM7w/featured Like her Facebook Nutrition Page: Lindy Ford Nutrition & Wellness. Follow her on Twitter: @lindywellness.