Inflammation is a natural part of our bodies’ immune response, but at the same time, chronic inflammation can be seriously damaging. Studies have shown that chronic inflammation has a role to play in arthritis(1), obesity(2), heart disease(3), and even cancer(4). Can the foods we eat contribute to whether or not we experience chronic inflammation?
It turns out that some foods can, in fact, cause an inflammatory response – namely those high in sugar and trans fats. But there are many foods that act as natural anti-inflammatories. If you struggle with or are concerned about chronic inflammation, read on.
1. Fatty Fish
“Dietary omega-3 fatty acids have a variety of anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating effects that may be of relevance to atherosclerosis and its clinical manifestations of myocardial infarction, sudden death, and stroke,” one study states(5).
Where to get these omega-3 fatty acids? Fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines, are rich in them.
Baked, grilled or broiled fish is better for you than fried, dried, or salted fish, and if you’re not a fan of any type of fish, there’s always walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds/oil or fish oil supplements.
2. Dark, Leafy Greens
Vitamin E, often found in dark leafy green vegetables like kale or spinach, has a crucial role to play in reducing inflammation. An antioxidant, this vitamin has been shown to significantly reduce inflammation in rats(6), and help prevent heart disease in humans(7).
The beneficial effects of nuts on cardiovascular disease have been widely documented, and nuts are a staple of the Mediterranean diet, which many swear by for its anti-inflammatory benefits. There’s significant evidence that the components of nuts – magnesium, fiber, alpha-linolenic acid, and antioxidants – can all contribute to protecting against inflammation(8).
4. Ginger And Turmeric
Popular in Asian and Indian cooking, ginger and turmeric have both been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties(9) (10). Turmeric in particular is an anti-inflammatory powerhouse, in some cases as effective as over-the-counter anti-inflammatories like Ibuprofen.
This common herb is known for its immune system boosting capabilities, but did you know it also has anti-inflammatory properties? It can be used safely for treating inflammation in cancer(11), due to being safe to consume in large quantities.
6. Olive Oil
Anything that contributes to a heart-healthy diet is also good for combating chronic inflammation, but olive oil is particularly good, according to numerous studies. It’s not only effective at reducing inflammation, but it also has joint protective effects as well(12), making it an ideal food for people living with arthritis.
Eating Right To Prevent Inflammation
Preventing inflammation through diet can be a big commitment – but it doesn’t have to mean severely limiting your choices when it comes to the foods you eat. As you can see, there are plenty of foods with anti-inflammatory properties. Doing even a little research on anti-inflammatory diets like the Mediterranean diet can go a long way towards helping you eat right to prevent chronic inflammation.