Inflammation is a natural condition in the body, which plays an important part in several physiological processes, including healing from an infection or injury. However, sometimes the mechanisms of inflammation lead to an excess that causes serious illness or a big overweight problem for the patient instead of promoting healing and optimal health.
Swelling, digestive problems, diabetes, overweight, pain, stiffness, or weakness are the main symptoms.
Obviously, there are several solutions to reduce inflammation such as nutrition, exercise, supplements, and so on… But one of the best remedies to combat this situation is definitely to go for good anti-inflammatory foods.
List of foods with anti-inflammatory properties
While many processed products promote inflammatory processes in the body, natural and fresh foods can stop existing inflammation and counteract new ones. They contain certain ingredients that have special anti-inflammatory effects. Here is a list of anti-inflammatory foods that you should consider:
1. Oily fish and shellfish
In addition to being an excellent source of protein, oily fish and shellfish contain essential fatty acids, especially omega 3s (EPA and DHA).
To fight inflammation, your body needs these good fats, which are only provided through food. Therefore, regular consumption of oily fish reduces potential mediators of insulin resistance and inflammation.
Wild salmon, mackerel, sardines, mussels, oysters are good sources of omega 3s.
Vegetables contain many substances known to decrease inflammation: fibers, polyphenols, vitamins, minerals.
Polyphenols, in particular, are known for their potential anti-inflammatory effect. Associated with antioxidant activity, they are said to reduce the inflammation triggered by oxidative stress.
The more you consume vegetables of various colors, the more you diversify your polyphenol intake. Therefore, consume 4 to 5 servings of vegetables per day, cooked and raw (alternate), varying the colors.
3. Fruits and berries
Fruits and berries are also rich in polyphenols. They, therefore, have an action comparable to vegetables. For this category, you also have to think about varying the colors.
Blackberries, like blueberries, contain resveratrol, a polyphenol with a strong anti-inflammatory effect.
Because fruit contains sugar (fructose), it is recommended that you only consume 2 to 3 servings per day, which is significantly less than vegetables.
Avoid fruit juices as much as possible, as the sugars in juices are too high and are quickly assimilated by the body. In addition, fibers are, for the most part, not very present in juices.
Blueberries, blackberries, currants, raspberries, peaches, apricots, apples, pears, oranges are highly recommended.
4. Nuts, almonds, and peanuts
The tree nuts family will always provide great health benefits. They offer an amazing balance between their high levels of protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
Among their main qualities, they have attributed an extraordinary content of Omega-3 fatty acids, one of the substances with the greatest anti-inflammatory power. They are also an excellent alternative for weight loss thanks to their satiating effect and their consumption is indicated to speed up the metabolism.
They also help relieve inflammation, reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol, and are also good for memory, especially peanuts.
Furthermore, consuming nuts, almonds and peanuts are associated with a lower risk of overweight and obesity. Nuts give you energy, fill you up, and have a low glycemic index.
A serving of nuts or peanuts, defined as one ounce, can be a great snack, according to the American Heart Association.
5. Green tea
Green tea contains components called polyphenols, of which epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is the most potent. EGCG has anti-inflammatory properties which can help those with chronic conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome.
A study conducted on a group of people with ulcerative colitis gave positive results for those who received treatment with EGCG drugs, with an improvement of 58.3%; while those who received a placebo drug saw no improvement in their symptoms.
The active ingredients in ginger, such as gingerol, have a strong anti-inflammatory action and help to down-modulate all forms of chronic inflammation in the body. They help fight joint pain, inflammation of the tendons, inflammation of the stomach, the duration of colds, and period pain.
Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, mainly due to its volatile and antioxidant compounds, curcuminoids. By its antioxidant action, it also has a cardiovascular and hepatic protective effect.
8. Whole grains
One of the big differences between whole grain and refined products is their fiber content. Also, a diet rich in fiber (not excessive) has been shown to reduce levels of the “C-reactive protein” produced by the liver, an indicator of inflammation in the blood. In addition, whole grain products tend to have fewer added sugars.
9. Dairy products
Good gut health is important because it contributes to general good health by promoting metabolism and healthy functioning of the immune system. Dairy products are therefore a source of important nutrients, protein, and calcium.
It is important that they are from organic farming and, if possible, from grass-fed animals.
They thus offer better quality nutrients, a greater variety of microorganisms and are free of toxins from industrial agriculture.
They are best consumed as a mid-morning or afternoon snack or breakfast. Opt for example for yogurt without added sugar. If you want a bit of sweetness and flavor, add in some berries.
Good fats or healthy fats are necessary for a balanced diet as we’ve explained above. Avocado is an excellent source of good fats, mainly oleic acid, vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant), vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, and fiber.
These fats can help lower blood cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and keep the heart rate in check.
The legume family such as beans, chickpeas, lentils, black beans, and peas are foods of high nutritional value. This is due to their high protein and slow-digesting carbohydrate content.
Their benefits are immediate since they promote the consumption of fiber and prevent glucose peaks. And their satiating effect and low-calorie content promote weight loss. They are a great alternative to refined grains or processed starches.
12. Extra virgin olive oil
Olive oil is one of the best options for getting healthy fats. This is an amazing option because it is a good source of unsaturated fat.
In addition, it is distinguished by its content of a unique compound called oleocanthal which has great anti-inflammatory effects on the whole body. It is important to consume extra virgin olive oil, as it is the one that contains the most. Always try to consume it cold. If you heat it up, its health properties will be lost.
Seasoning foods with garlic is one of the best things you can do for your health. Incorporating products such as cumin, ginger, cinnamon, rosemary, and turmeric into your diet helps prevent heavy digestion.
These are all foods that have been used for years in traditional Asian medicine for their wonderful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
14. Dark Chocolate
Inflammation-fighting compounds can be found in dark chocolate. According to a large Italian study, people who ate a square of dark chocolate every three days were found to have low levels of inflammation-related protein.
The sharp taste makes it clear: rocket, cress, horseradish, and radishes have it all. The contained mustard oil glycosides not only act against inflammation but also have a positive effect on sugar metabolism and can thus prevent diabetes.
Video – Proven Anti-inflammatory Foods
Foods to avoid if you suffer from inflammation
As we’ve seen, nutrition plays a particularly important role in chronic inflammation. If you want to prevent inflammation, you should limit your consumption of the following foods.
Whether white, brown, disguised as agave syrup or coconut blossom sugar, sugar promotes inflammation. Since it can be found in large quantities in many foods, especially processed products, special care must be taken here. The WHO recommends limiting sugar consumption to five percent of the total amount of energy per day. This equates to 25 grams or six teaspoons per day.
White flour products
There are some misconceptions about carbohydrates. Importantly, not all carbohydrates are bad. The carbohydrates from whole grains, vegetables, and legumes are accompanied by fiber and minerals and have a positive effect on health.
On the other hand, those who predominantly consume products made from white flour stimulate the growth of pro-inflammatory intestinal bacteria. These may, among other things, increase the risk of obesity and chronic inflammatory bowel disease.
Trans fats are mainly found in fried food, sweets, and sugary baked goods. If you want to counteract inflammation, you should therefore limit the consumption of chips, fries, croissants, and sweets. This will simultaneously prevent obesity and cardiovascular diseases, which studies have shown to be promoted by trans fats.
Excessive meat consumption
Processed sausage and meat products are also among the pro-inflammatory foods. According to studies, they are suspected of increasing the risk of stomach and colon cancer, as well as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Processed meats and sausages contain so-called Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs). They react uncontrollably with the cell’s own structures and are thus involved in the development of various inflammatory diseases. New studies show that these pro-inflammatory substances may also be involved in the development of osteoporosis.
The incidence of inflammatory diseases such as rheumatism, arthritis, and intestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis has risen sharply in recent years. What precedes these and many other diseases is chronic inflammation in the body.
Nowadays, we are faced with numerous factors such as stress, environmental toxins, and sugary snacks that have pro-inflammatory effects. The good news: At the same time, we can counteract this with a balanced diet with fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
Certain foods are particularly effective at fighting inflammation thanks to their valuable ingredients. These include in particular the omega-3 fatty acids from fish, walnuts, linseed oil, and chia seeds. Likewise, sulfur compounds are found in onions and garlic.
Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, Swiss chard, and lamb’s lettuce are also considered anti-inflammatory foods and should therefore regularly be part of an anti-inflammatory diet.
Mandell is currently working towards a medical degree from the University of Central Florida. His main passions include kayaking, playing soccer and tasting good food. He covers mostly science, health and environmental stories for the Scientific Origin.