The more we learn about inflammation in the body, the more we realize it’s extremely important to take steps to avoid it. Inflammation is believed to be tied to many types of chronic illness, so taking every step you can to prevent it can be a huge step forward in your health. One of the easiest ways to do this is to assess your diet and make sure the foods you eat are doing everything they can to help. Here are some foods to start including in your regular diet to reduce inflammation and keep your body whole and healthy.
Leafy greens often make it to the top of many different healthy diet lists, and for good reason. Leafy greens are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and anti-inflammatory flavonoids. This doesn’t mean you have to stick with spinach, however— some other great options include kale, arugula, collard greens, kale, and mustard greens. You can enjoy them in a salad or cooked with your other favorite veggies. Don’t like leafy greens all that much? Try putting them in a fresh fruit smoothie instead.
Pineapple is full of bromelain, an enzyme found in the digestive system that helps regulate your body’s immune response when unnecessary inflammation is present. Among other things, bromelain is also great for your heart’s health and has plenty of vitamins and minerals (vitamin C and B1), potassium, and small amounts of manganese (which helps in activating enzymes to destroy free radicals).
Tart cherries, whether whole or in their juice form, have been the subject of a lot of study for their anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, some studies have shown it has the highest anti-inflammatory potential of most foods, and can reduce pain from arthritis and post-workout soreness. If it’s too tart for you, consider adding some tart cherry juice to some yogurt or a smoothie.
Curcumin, which is the primary compound in turmeric, has loads of anti-inflammatory benefits— especially when measured against over-the-counter painkillers like aspirin and ibuprofen. This can mean it can be an effective way to manage conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and other joint conditions without the detriments of regularly taking pills. Turmeric is a spice, meaning you can easily add it to your favorite meals.
The black seeds inside papaya have some great anti-inflammatory properties. With loads of vitamin C (more than an orange) and beta carotene, it also contains papain, a digestive enzyme similar to bromelain. Papaya can be tasty along with some yogurt or cottage cheese (or added to a smoothie), but you can also enjoy it with just a spoon.
Wild-Caught, Fatty Fish
Wild-caught fish like salmon or trout can be an excellent source of omega-3s, which are potent anti-inflammatory compounds. Omega-3s can also reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and arthritis, and they are also extremely important for cognitive function in the brain. When shopping for fish, always ensure it’s wild-caught since farmed fish won’t come with the same nutrients. If wild-caught fish is hard to find in your area or is outside your budget, consider adding fish oil supplements to your daily routine.
Chia and Flax
Chia and flax seeds are another good source of omega-3s that don’t come from meat. Additionally, they come with a powerhouse combination of essential fatty acids, vitamins A, B, E, and D; and minerals like iron, iodine, and magnesium. They can also be effective at reducing cholesterol and blood pressure. Consider grinding them with a coffee grinder before adding them to your favorite foods so your digestive tract can easily get their benefits.
Blueberries contain quercetin, which has some great anti-inflammatory benefits and is usually found in dark-colored berries. Blueberries have also been studied as a way to manage inflammatory bowel disease, as well as a way to slow cognitive decline and improve memory. Blueberries are packed with antioxidants, so be sure to add these to your favorite meals.
Another food that is full of antioxidants because of its deep color is beets. Beets can help repair cell damage caused by inflammation because of the antioxidant betalain. Additionally, beets contain high levels of potassium and magnesium (and magnesium deficiency has been linked with inflammatory conditions). Magnesium is vital in processing calcium, so make sure to include fresh beets in your diet if you have high levels of calcium.
Coconut oil can be an easy and essential replacement for the oils or butter you regularly use in your cooking. Especially when paired with turmeric, it can pack a powerful and healthy punch for your regular diet. From a study in India, where coconut oil is common, the antioxidants in virgin coconut oil reduced inflammation and reduced arthritis more effectively than many medications.
Schedule an Appointment
Optimizing your diet is an easy and effective way to help and heal your body. If you’re looking for the best ways to manage inflammation through the latest in regenerative medicine, schedule an appointment to meet with our experts at our Kirkland office. We invite you to call or fill out our online form so our patient coordinators can get in touch.