Inflammation and anti-inflammatory foods are a hot topic in nutrition. New research shows that inflammation, especially chronic inflammation, is at the heart of many common major diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, and Alzheimer’s. Inflammation is swelling and a little bit can be good, like if you cut your finger, but too much can wreak havoc on the body, taxing some of our systems that keep us healthy and feeling well.
Lack of fruits and vegetables, abundance of processed foods, sedentary lifestyle and other common features of modern culture can promote excess inflammation in the body. Besides risk of disease, inflammation can cause aches and pains or limited mobility that make everyday activities like playing at the park with your kids, going to the gym, dancing at a wedding or simply getting out of bed in the morning a painful experience.
A plant-based diet rich in fruits and vegetables is the foundation of an anti-inflammatory way of eating.
Here are my top 5 anti-inflammatory foods and ideas for how to make them a regular feature of your everyday eating.
Turmeric is a root that can also be consumed as a dried spice. It has an earthy not spicy flavor and well-known yellow hue. Turmeric is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds like curcumin. Eating turmeric with black pepper can help increase the body’s ability to absorb the curcumin but as much as 1000 times.
- When you cook rice or quinoa, add dried turmeric and black pepper to the water before cooking and it will soak into the grain.
- Add dried turmeric to scrambled eggs or omelets.
- Juice fresh turmeric root combined with your favorite fruits and veggies.
Pineapple boasts the phytonutrient, bromelain with potent anti-inflammatory actions. Pineapple is a delicious snack, treat, or addition to your favorite stir-fry.
- Add fresh or frozen pineapple to a smoothie. Try combining it with mint for a fresh, energizing flavor.
- Chop fresh pineapple and include as a topping on pizza (skip the bacon or ham and include veggies like peppers instead).
- Add pineapple to your favorite stir-fry.
Cherries and cherry juice in particular has been shown to help reduce joint pain and inflammation. The best cherry juice is from your juicer or look for bottled 100% juice, not the typical “juice” loaded with sugar.
- Add fresh or frozen cherries to your favorite berry smoothie.
- Dip fresh cherries in dark chocolate for a healthy treat.
Ginger is a root with a kick and loads of nutrients including some that help reduce inflammation.
- Peel and slice ginger root and add to hot water and lemon first thing in the morning for a wake up drink.
5. Omega 3s
Omega 3s are “healthy fats” that have been shown to help reduce risk of heart disease, certain cancers, boost mood, encourage healthy brain development and maintaining brain power with age. They help our bodies via anti-inflammatory actions. Sources include walnuts, salmon, chia, flax, hemp, mackerel, mint.
- Add chia or hemp seeds to your morning smoothie.
- Top oatmeal, Greek yogurt or cereals with chia, hemp, ground flax seeds or chopped walnuts.
- Add mint and cucumber slices to water for “infused water” with a fresh flavor.
- Make salad dressing using walnut oil as a base.