Inflammation is the body’s response to injury and infection. It is the body’s way of sending signs to the immune system that damaged tissues need to be healed and that it needs to defend itself against foreign invaders such as viruses or bacteria.
Inflammation can be good and bad. On one hand, it is a necessary part of the healing system. On the other hand, some people may have medical conditions in which the immune system does not work properly. This miscommunication between the body and the immune system can lead to persistent inflammation. Chronic inflammation can occur with diseases such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, lupus, Crohn’s disease, heart disease, and cancer.
Unhealthy eating habits have also been associated with inflammation. Processed foods, high amounts of sugar, and excessive alcohol intake can all contribute to inflammation in the body. Lack of exercise and an inactive lifestyle with a lot of sitting can be another contributing factor.
Studies have shown that a healthy diet that includes anti-inflammatory foods can fight inflammation. An anti-inflammatory diet consists of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, omega-3 fatty acids, lean proteins, antioxidants, and healthy fats. This diet limits the consumption of excessive sugar, red meats, processed foods, and alcohol.
Below are five foods to include in your diet if you are suffering from short or long term inflammation, help prevent inflammation in the future and support a healthy immune system overall.
Broccoli is extremely nutritious. It is packed with sulforaphane, which is an antioxidant that fights inflammation. Broccoli is also rich in vitamin C, potassium, calcium, vitamin A, and it is low in calories.
Broccoli is easy to incorporate into your diet because it can be eaten cooked or raw. You can toss some raw broccoli in your salad or have it as a snack with some veggie dip. Or cook it and pair it with a lean protein and slow digesting carb for a healthy meal. Our Chicken, Broccoli & Rice meal is a great example of a balanced meal with broccoli.
The most common types of berries are blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. They’re all packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Berries contain anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory effects on the body. Anthocyanins can also help reduce your risk of disease as well as boost your immune system.
If adding berries to your diet, shoot for one or more servings of fresh or frozen berries daily. Fresh and frozen berries can be eaten a variety of ways: on their own, in oatmeal, in salads, with yogurt, or in a smoothie just to name a few.
Strawberry Power Oats
Salmon is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are important fats that you need to include in your diet. Your body does not produce them on its own so you need to get them from the foods you eat.
Omega 3s are found naturally in animal and plant products. They are a type of nutrient that can help reduce inflammation and ease joint pain. Salmon is pretty versatile; it can be pan seared, baked, grilled, and eaten cold or hot. If you’re looking to reduce inflammation consider adding salmon into your diet as one of your proteins. It goes great with vegetables, rice, and even couscous.
Blackened Salmon & Couscous
4. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are relatively new on the market and you may not have heard much about them but they are loaded with nutrients that have important benefits for your body and brain. They’re low calorie, high in fiber, and packed with antioxidants. Chia seeds also contain those Omega-3s!
Dry chia seeds can be added whole or ground to smoothies, juices, oatmeal, yogurt, or sprinkled on top of a salad. If you add whole chia seeds to liquid, they swell up slightly and retain a little crunch. Chia pudding is a great snack or on the go breakfast.
Banana Coconut Chia Pudding
Turmeric is all the rage right now. It’s relatively new in the world of healthy eating and it actually has amazing health benefits. It is a spice that comes from the root of the turmeric plant.
Turmeric contains curcumin which is a strong anti-inflammatory and is so effective that it has been compared to some anti-inflammatory drugs. This powerful antioxidant is also good for heart health. Ground turmeric can be blended in smoothies, added to soups, sauces and rice for color and flavor, and added to tea or coffee.
It is important to note that no single food will boost your health. Your diet should include a variety of healthy ingredients. Quality ingredients are best and processed foods should be kept at a minimum. Adding these antioxidant rich foods can help you combat short term and long term inflammation and support a healthy immune system overall.
If you’re looking to save time on choosing healthy anti-inflammatory foods, check out our perfectly portioned anti-inflammatory meals.