Written by Marni McNiff
Perhaps the term "diet" isn't appropriate here. There are no portions to worry about, and you're not counting calories. Instead, you're loading up on foods that are naturally good for you and have the added benefit of reducing inflammation. No, this is no diet; this is a life plan.
Anti-inflammatories are among the most commonly prescribed medications. They are used for many different chronic ailments including arthritis, heart disease and hypertension. While these medications may provide quick relief, long-term use of some anti-inflammatory medications such as NSAIDs and steroids can actually weaken our immunity or cause unwanted side effects.
Maintaining a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods can ease the adverse reactions to medications, but it also adds a healthy (and tasty) mix of foods into your meals. On top of their anti-inflammatory properties, these foods also supply us with essential vitamins and minerals that help boost our immune system.
Using Common Sense With Your Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Chances are if you are suffering from an auto-immune disease like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, eating an anti-inflammatory diet may not be a substitute for medication. It can, however, ease day-to-day symptoms of inflammation that accompany those diseases. The foods listed in this article are a healthy addition to any meal plan.
So you're looking to start an anti-inflammatory diet, but don't know where to begin, the following foods have an abundance of anti-inflammatory properties.
- Wild Alaskan Salmon: It's no secret that salmon contains omega-3s and has been known to help numerous ailments. It is important to note that wild-caught salmon has a much higher omega-3 content than farmed-raised. For those of you that are not fans of fish, there are many non-fish-oil and omega-3 supplements that will provide these important nutrients, including flax and hempseed oil.
- Kelp: Kelp such contains fucoidan, a type of complex carbohydrate that is anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, and anti-oxidative. It is also high in fiber, which helps your body feel full and will aid in weight loss. It's best to buy organic kelp and avoid some of the seaweed snacks that are loaded with vegetable oil and salt.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This oil provides a healthy dose of fats, which fights inflammation. It can also help lower the risks of asthma and arthritis, as well as protect the heart and blood vessels.
- Blueberries: These not only reduce inflammation, but they can protect the brain from aging and prevent diseases, such as cancer and dementia.
- Dark Leafy Greens: Dark leafy green vegetables are loaded with antioxidants. They are high in inflammation-fighting carotenoids, vitamin K and vitamin E.
- Turmeric: This Indian root, which is often found in curry blends, contains a natural anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin. Turmeric also has pain-relieving properties. Among the other spices that can help with inflammation are oregano, garlic, and rosemary.
- Ginger: You may know that ginger is good for digestion and relieving nausea, but it also helps reduce inflammation and control blood sugar.
- Broccoli: This highly nutritious vegetable that contains anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer phytonutrients such as sulforaphane. It helps the body to get rid of potentially carcinogenic compounds.
- Green Tea: Green tea contains anti-inflammatory flavonoids that may even help reduce the risks of certain cancers.
- Sweet Potato: A great source of complex carbs, fiber, beta-carotene, manganese and vitamin B6 and C, these potatoes actually help heal inflammation in the body.
- Papaya: Papaya contains papain, a protein-digesting enzyme. Together with other nutrients such as vitamin C and E, papain helps to reduce inflammation, and improves digestion and healing from burns. Make sure to buy organic papaya as many -- especially coming from Hawaii -- are genetically modified.
Foods to Avoid
It's pretty basic knowledge that it's best to try and limit processed foods, sugar, and trans-fats, and this is especially important if you're looking to reduce inflammation. With inflammatory issues, dairy is also tough on the body. It has a common allergen that can trigger inflammation as well as breathing and stomach issues.
Aspartame and MSG are two common food additives that can trigger inflammation responses. There's no time like now to give up those diet soft drinks and foods with these additives.
Choose grass-fed meats when possible. Feed-lot animals consume large quantities of corn and soy, which may aggravate inflammatory issues. These animal are also injected with hormones and antibiotics, which can cause a whole range of other issues.
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