The Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Inflammation is not necessarily bad in itself – it’s actually your body’s self-defense against injury and disease.  Whether it’s healing a wound or staving off a disease, your immune system kick-starts inflammation to protect and heal. That said, sometimes inflammation can persist when there is no threat present – and this kind of chronic inflammation can lead to serious health concerns, from arthritis to diabetes to heart disease. How can you prevent this from happening? Study after study shows that the right diet is actually your best protection against inflammation.

What to Eat More Of

It should come as no surprise that a good anti-inflammatory diet is also an extremely healthy diet overall. Follow the general principles of a Mediterranean diet – olive oil, fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains and leafy greens – and you’re pretty much there. Plus, you’re probably also getting all the fibre, plant-based protein and heart-healthy fats you need, to boot! Here are some ingredients to try to work in to your daily routine:

  • Whole grains: from oatmeal to brown rice, whole grains are packed with fibre, which might help keep inflammation at bay
  • Bell peppers: high in antioxidants, low in starch, peppers also come packed with capsaicin, which is said to help reduce inflammation
  • Spinach: this nutrient-dense green is a great source of vitamin E, which is said to help protect your body from inflammation-causing cytokine molecules
  • Berries: antioxidant-rich berries are packed with antioxidants and polyphenols, which give a welcome boost to your immune system
  • Nuts: not only are they packed with fibre, protein and unsaturated fat – nuts have also been linked to reduced inflammation and a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes
  • Olive oil: like nuts, this plant-based oil contains healthy fats that help stop inflammation
  • Fish: packed with super healthy omega-3s, fatty fish like salmon, tuna and sardines all help prevent chronic inflammation

Beyond choosing fresh, unprocessed foods, you can also make healthy lifestyle adjustments to avoid inflammation. Try to drink more water, exercise regularly, get enough sleep and don’t overdo the calories. Not only will you be preventing inflammation and lowering your risk of countless diseases…you’ll also likely feel more alert, energized and happy in general. What’s not to love?

What to Avoid

Now the not-so-fun part…you probably already know what’s coming, but there are certain food groups that can actually increase your risk of inflammation. And most of them are foods that any dietitian would tell you to limit your intake of anyways. Here are some of the worst offenders:

  • Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pasta
  • Sugar-sweetened drinks like sodas and sugar-added juices
  • Fried foods, including French fries, donuts, chips…you get the idea
  • Foods high in trans fats, such as margarine, shortening and some junk foods
  • Red meat and processed meat

Now, we’re not saying you have to cut these out entirely. A back yard BBQ and the occasional sweet treat are some of life’s great pleasures. But moderation is key. Save these inflammatory foods for special occasions only – and enjoy them to the fullest then. But in terms of everyday eating, your body will thank you if you stick to the healthy stuff.

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