Top 15 anti-inflammatory foods
Inflammation is a normal and healthy response to infection and injury. It is your immune system sending white blood cells to the area to repair it and kill the invading infection. The swelling and redness you often see around sites of infection is your immune system doing its job. But problems arise when our immune system is not operating as it should and attacks our own cells, leading to chronic inflammation when there is no external threat. This leads to autoimmune responses such as allergies, and diseases like cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s, as well as serious autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and crohn’s disease.
Diet is the key
Most causes of inflammation are linked to diet. Though quitting smoking and getting enough exercise should definitely be on your list of things to improve your health, experts advise that you address your diet first. There are two reasons: diet is probably the most effective way to reduce inflammation, and there’s a danger that if you modify other aspects of your lifestyle, you will justify unhealthy eating as a reward for good behaviour. Having a healthy balance of probiotics (good bacteria) in your gut can also address a range of health issues, especially ones related to immunity and autoimmune problems, because digestive health is central to an optimal immune system.
Antioxidants help fight inflammation
Antioxidants are an important part of your diet. One cause of inflammation is oxidative stress, which allows free radicals to wreak havoc in the body, damaging cells and even their DNA. Free radicals are atoms and molecules with the wrong number of electrons, caused by oxidation. The damage they do to cells and their ability to repair themselves causes accelerated aging, cancers, dementia and other age-related diseases. Antioxidants are substances that occur naturally in certain foods, which are stable enough to donate an electron to a free radical, neutralising it.
It’s important to get a variety of antioxidants to support normal cellular repair, healthy aging, and to fight chronic inflammation. The most important antioxidant food source is fish oil, which contains a high count of omega-3 fatty acids. Other sources are foods containing carotenoids (red, orange and yellow vegetables, such as capsicum and carrots), bromelian (pineapple), curcumin (turmeric), among others.
Inflammation-causing foods to avoid
Foods to avoid (or eat only in moderation): sugar, refined grains (white bread, white rice, pasta, pastry), highly-processed foods generally, deep-fried foods, too much omega-6 (the ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 is 1:1), large amounts of dairy, non-organic or processed meats.
Top 15 foods to fight inflammation
• Tomatoes contain lutein and lycopene, which are excellent antioxidants that slow the damage to cells as we age and support natural cell repair.
• Oily fish such as salmon, tuna, eel, sardines, mullet, trout, mackerel.
• Leafy greens like kale, spinach, silverbeet and bok choy. These greens contain vitamins A, C and K and carotenoids, which are a potent source of antioxidants.
• Broccoli contains a wealth of vitamins and minerals that fight inflammation.
• Celery also contains these vitamins, as well as being an antioxidant and containing lots of potassium.
• Berries, especially blueberries but also cranberries, raspberries, blackberries.
• Turmeric contains curcumin, which has been shown to be a more powerful anti-inflammatory than ibuprofen.
• Ginger helps break down toxins and reduce inflammation caused by autoimmune responses/allergies. It helps relieve joint and muscle pain.
• Olive oil (not heated). Extra virgin olive oil contains oleocanthal, a natural anti-inflammatory. Heating the oil destroys its many health-giving properties, and olive oil burns at a lower temperature than most oils so it’s not a good idea to use if for frying. Include extra virgin olive oil in salad dressings.
• Green tea contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
• Dark chocolate (containing at least 70% cocoa) contains a number of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
• Beetroot contains potassium and magnesium, which help fight inflammation.
• Pineapple contains bromelian, a digestive enzyme that is known to regulate the immune response that can lead to chronic inflammation.
• Coconut oil has been traditionally used to heal arthritis, it is full of antioxidants that help fight inflammation.
• Walnuts contain antioxidants (manganese and omega-3) and are anti-inflammatory, protecting against cardiovascular and metabolic problems, as well as Type 2 diabetes.
Lester’s Oil contains double strength, purified fish oil along with vitamins and antioxidants which also helps keep the oil fresh. Res-V Ultimate contains a variety of complementary and powerful antioxidants, which may help with inflammation as well.
Read our article ‘How Lester’s Oil and Res-V Work Together to Support Your Heath’. It’s worth noting that rancid fish oil can actually cause inflammation, so it’s of the utmost importance that your fish oil supplement is guaranteed to be fresh. Lester’s Oil comes with a freshness guarantee backed by a study from a major university.