Nowadays, it is very common to hear about inflammation. While it is something that many people talk about, not everyone knows what it is or how you can decrease it.
First, it is crucial to understand that we need some inflammation in the body. However, the problem arises when the inflammation is more prominent than our body can handle.
In this article, I will discuss everything related to inflammation. Some of the topics are:
- What is inflammation?
- What are the signs of inflammation?
- What foods cause inflammation?
- Top 5 anti-inflammatory foods
What is inflammation?
First, we need to define what inflammation is. Inflammation happens when your immune system sends its cellular army to protect you against external pathogens that can cause you harm.
While we want to have some inflammation in the body, too much can be dangerous. For example, if you fall and scrape your knee. Your body is going to increase inflammation to heal your wound. This is called acute inflammation and is something we do want to occur.
However, when the body keeps sending its army for a long time even though there is no threat, this leads to chronic inflammation. Things like a poor diet, lack of sleep, stress, and lack of exercise are all common factors that lead to an increase in inflammation. This type of inflammation is the one that we don’t want.
What are the signs of inflammation?
There are some signs you can tell when your body has more inflammation than it can process. Here is a list of the signs to be on the lookout for.
- Digestive issues: bloating or gas
- Poor sleep
- Weight gain
- Trouble losing weight
- Memory problems
- Joint pain
Remember that every person can experience different symptoms. If you find yourself with several symptoms, always consult your healthcare provider.
Before we talk about the foods that help reduce inflammation, it is essential to know which ones will increase inflammation. So, which foods should we avoid to decrease inflammation?
- Refined grains. White bread, white rice, pastries, cookies, and cake.
- Fried food. Fried chicken, fries, and any other fried food.
- Sugar-sweet beverages. Iced tea and sodas.
- Trans fats. Margarine and shortening.
- Processed meats. Bacon, ham, and sausages.
It’s OK to eat these on certain occasions. However, the problem arises when we make them part of our daily lifestyle. As a general rule, I often recommend consuming 10-20% of processed foods and 80-90% coming from natural foods to avoid increasing inflammation.
Top 5 anti-inflammatory foods
Berries are one of the top anti-inflammatory foods that need to be on your grocery list. Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries are high in antioxidants called anthocyanins.
Research shows that consuming berries can help increase your immune system’s response by increasing the number of soldiers in your internal army. Also, it seems that it can reduce certain inflammatory markers in your blood.
Besides being potent in anthocyanins, they are also high in vitamin C. This is a powerful antioxidant that helps reduce inflammation in the body. It works by decreasing free radical molecules, leading to oxidative stress with large amounts of free radicals. Oxidative stress can affect your cells, leading to premature aging.
Make sure to have variety when it comes to berries. Don’t stick to only one type. Include all of them throughout the week to have different nutrients and antioxidants in your diet.
Omega-3 Rich Foods
Our body needs essential fats since it cannot produce its own. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Two types of omega-3 fatty acids arenecessary eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Omega-3 it’s known for its anti-inflammatory properties. A study showed that people who consumed Omega-3 for eight weeks decreased their inflammation markers.
Since fish can be high in mercury, the FDA recommends consuming only 3-4 portions of fish per week to avoid getting mercury poisoning. Green-lipped mussel oil is the best and rich source of Omega-3 which shows better results in few weeks.
Turmeric is a spice that gets a lot of attention due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It contains a molecule called curcumin which is a potent antioxidant.
In a study on 117 people, they took 1 gram of curcumin with 10 mg of peperine (black pepper) or a placebo group for eight weeks. At the end of the study, people who took the curcumin decreased their inflammation markers compared to the placebo group.
While curcumin has a lot of benefits, studies have shown that combining it with black pepper (peperine) can help increase the bioavailability of curcumin by 2,000%.
Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, Bok choi, Brussel sprouts, and kale have excellent anti-inflammatory properties. Broccoli is high in an antioxidant called sulforaphane, which reduces inflammation by reducing your cytokines (molecules that increase inflammation).
Another study evaluated the effect of consuming 250 grams of broccoli for ten days on regular smokers. At the end of the study, people saw an increase of 17% in their folate levels and 39% in their lutein levels. This led to a reduction in inflammation makers by 48%.
Including broccoli or any other cruciferous veggie in your daily veggie intake can significantly help reduce your inflammation.
Finally, green tea is the other top anti-inflammatory food to add to your diet. Research shows that green tea can reduce the risk of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
One of the substances found in green tea is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). This has anti-inflammatory properties since it reduces cytokine production (pro-inflammatory molecules).
Whether green tea or matcha, a good hot cup of green tea can help reduce your inflammation throughout the day.
The bottom line
While our body needs some inflammation to make some changes (like healing), when we have too much, it can lead to symptoms like poor digestion, poor sleep, and problems losing weight. Adding foods like berries, fatty fish, turmeric, broccoli, and green tea can help reduce inflammation.
Remember to have variety in your diet to get different nutrients. This means not focusing on only having berries but adding all the foods throughout the day and the week.