Sweets, cakes and cookies, and soda: They’re not dense in nutrients, and they’re easy to overeat, which can lead to weight gain, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol (all related to inflammation). Sugar causes the body to release inflammatory messengers called cytokines. Soda and other sweet drinks are main culprits. Anti-inflammatory diet experts often say you should cut out all added sugars, including agave and honey.
High-fat and processed red meat (like hot dogs): These have a lot of saturated fat, which can cause inflammation if you get more than a small amount each day.
Butter, whole milk, and cheese: Again, the problem is saturated fat. Instead, eat low-fat dairy products. They’re not considered inflammatory.
French fries, fried chicken, and other fried foods: Cooking them in vegetable oil doesn’t make them healthy. Corn, safflower, and other vegetable oils all have omega-6 fatty acids. You need some omega-6s, but if you get too much, as most Americans do, you throw off the balance between omega-6s and omega-3s in your body and end up with — you guessed it — more inflammation.
Coffee creamers, margarine, and anything else with trans fats: Trans fats (look on the label for “partially hydrogenated oils”) raise LDL cholesterol, which causes inflammation. There’s no safe amount to eat, so steer clear.
Wheat, rye, and barley: The focus here is gluten, and this one’s a controversial maybe. People who have celiac disease need to avoid gluten. But for everyone else, the science is solid that whole grains are beneficial.
Chronic inflammation is said to be the root cause of a host of health problems. Multiple factors contribute to the inflammatory process, including age and lifestyle factors such as stress, lack of exercise, and poor food choices . When your body recognizes anything that is foreign – such as a chemical, an invading microbe, or even plant pollen ¬– your immune system becomes activated and releases chemicals to attack what it thinks is foreign. This reaction often triggers a process called inflammation.
Occasional bouts of inflammation directed at truly threatening invaders protect your health. However, sometimes inflammation persists even when you are not threatened by a foreign invader. This is when a minor inflammation can become a major problem. When this happens day in and day out, your body becomes chronically inflamed, most often resulting in some health problem or complaint.
Since poor food and drink choices may trigger the body’s inflammatory response, one of the simplest things you can do to reduce inflammation is eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Of course, reducing stress, getting enough sleep, and increasing exercise help too!
What is an anti-inflammatory diet?
An anti-inflammatory diet is designed to prevent or reduce low-grade inflammation in the body. It is usually rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, fish, and certain culinary herbs and spices. Foods rich in antioxidants help reduce inflammation by reducing the damage from free radicals.
For an eating plan that closely follows the principles of anti-inflammatory eating, consider the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils.
What does an anti-inflammatory diet do?
An anti-inflammatory diet keeps inflammation in the body at bay, and may even help reduce it for good. In fact, one of the most powerful tools to combat inflammation comes not from the pharmacy, but from the grocery store. The following foods help reduce inflammation in the body and can easily be incorporated into the diet on a daily basis:
- berries (such as blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries)
- dark leafy vegetables (such as kale, spinach, and collard greens)
- fruits (such as cherries, pineapple, papaya, apples, tomatoes, and avocados)
- nuts (such as walnuts, almonds, and pecans)
- herbs and spices (such as turmeric, cayenne, ginger, rosemary, and cinnamon)
- healthy oils (such as olive oil, omega-3 oils from fish and nuts/seeds)
- deep sea fish (such as salmon, anchovies, and sardines)
What about anti-inflamatory drinks?
Although a general overall anti-inflammatory diet is a good lifestyle change if you suffer from chronic inflammation, anti-inflammatory drinks are easy to prepare at any time of day. They also digest much faster than most anti-inflammatory foods.
One drink that often gets overlooked is water. Water hydrates, cleanses by flushing out toxins in the body, and can help soothe inflammation. You can also elevate your plain glass of water by adding lemon or ginger. Lemon has alkalizing properties, and ginger contains gingerols that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Not a fan of cold water? Make it into a tea! Lemon and ginger tea is delicious with a touch of honey, and you can even add in some turmeric for an extra anti-inflammatory punch.
Celery juice has been on the forefront of the healthy juicing movement lately, and for good reason. Along with its vast array of healing benefits, celery juice is full of powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and has been shown to reverse inflammation by starving pathogens .
1 bunch organic celery
Rinse the celery and run it through a juicer. Drink immediately for best results.
Alternatively, chop the celery and blend it in a high-speed blender until smooth. Strain well and drink immediately.
Tips: Drink 475 mL (16 oz) first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. If you find the taste of straight celery juice too strong, you can adjust the flavour. As you get used to it, keep increasing the ratio of celery; the greatest benefits come when celery juice is consumed on its own.
Traditional chai tea – not the boxed, pre-made variety – is made from a blend of super-herbs known for their anti-inflammatory benefits (think cinnamon, clove, and cardamom). Mix these wonderful herbs with turmeric and you have a Golden Chai Latte that will not only keep you warm, but will help reduce inflammation within, while tasting super delicious!
Golden Chai Latte
2 1/2 cups cashew milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
2 teaspoons loose leaf chai tea
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1. Pour water and 2 cups of cashew milk (reserve the other 1/2 cup) in a medium-sized pot and warm over medium heat.
2. Place loose leaf chai in a tea strainer and add to the milk/water mixture. Add spices and bring to a light boil. Remove pot from heat before liquid fully boils.
3. Allow pot to cool for about 5 minutes, and then remove the tea strainer. Stir in maple syrup.
4. Pour golden chai tea into a glass and froth (or simply pour) 1/2 cup cashew milk atop. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg.
Feeling like you need a bit more help to reduce inflammation?
Sometimes knowing what to cook or making that first step in changing eating and lifestyle patterns can be difficult. Although making changes to food choices from pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory is the optimal way to go, you can also get a little kick-start on this process by taking certain antioxidant supplements such as curcumin (from the spice turmeric), astaxanthin, and boswellia.
When we look at the diseases that plague our society — arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) — we see that long-term lifestyle changes are needed. What might not be as obvious is the common denominator tied to all of them and more: inflammation is at the root of most diseases. By addressing the inflammation with anti-inflammatory foods, not only can the symptoms of these diseases be alleviated, but we could even see them disappear. Let’s dive into the top foods that will combat inflammation.
- What Are Anti-Inflammatory Foods? And How Can They Transform Your Health?
- The Anti-Inflammatory Diet
- Top 15 Anti-Inflammatory Foods
- Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet
- General Anti-Inflammatory Diet Tips:
- What Are Anti-Inflammatory Foods?
- Inflammatory Foods to Avoid
- Anti-Inflammatory Foods Central to an Anti-inflammatory Diet
- 3 Controversial Foods in an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
- 5 Best and Worst Foods for Skin Inflammation
- 5 Foods That Cause Skin Inflammation
- 5 Anti Inflammatory Foods
What Are Anti-Inflammatory Foods? And How Can They Transform Your Health?
Inflammation as a bodily function is not necessarily a bad thing. When the body is injured or ill, the lymphatic (immune) system springs into action, bringing the immune system’s army of white blood cells to the area of concern via increased blood flow.
With the increased attention to the area, there might also be swelling, redness, heat, and pain or discomfort. You’ve probably seen this inflammatory response in action, as a cut or scrape becomes hot and puffy around the wound while the extra blood runs. Inflammation, in a healthy body, is the normal and effective response that facilitates healing.
Sadly, we know this isn’t the whole story.
When the immune system overreaches and begins attacking healthy body tissues, we’re met with an autoimmune disorder like leaky gut and inflammation in otherwise healthy areas of the body. Inflammatory effects also are linked to arthritis and fibromyalgia symptoms, as well as celiac and irritable bowel disease (IBD). For diseases that aren’t autoimmune, inflammation can still play a part as the body continuously tries to heal the tissues in a given area. Asthma creates inflamed airways; inflammation related to diabetes affects insulin resistance; and so on.
Despite the connection between inflammation and prevalent diseases, as well as the connection between diet and inflammation that we’ll explore, diet isn’t always analyzed in response to inflammation. In a 2014 study on diet and IBD, 33 percent of the patients in the study opted against the proposed anti-inflammatory diet. All of the patients who participated and consumed anti-inflammatory foods found enough relief that they were able to discontinue at least one of their medications. Still, the study notes that physicians typically offer “if it hurts, don’t do it” advice instead of clear dietary guidelines. (1)
Certainly, there is more we can do to promote anti-inflammatory lifestyle changes.
The Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Standard American diets (appropriately called SAD) are never touted as exemplary, but when talking about inflammation, it becomes vitally important to rethink our typical diets. As a report from the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases reported:
While today’s modern diet may provide beneficial protection from micro- and macronutrient deficiencies, our over abundance of calories and the macronutrients that compose our diet may all lead to increased inflammation, reduced control of infection, increased rates of cancer, and increased risk for allergic and auto-inflammatory disease. (2)
To move toward an anti-inflammatory diet and anti-inflammatory foods, we primarily move away from the abundance of overly processed, unbalanced diets of the West and toward the ancient eating patterns of the Mediterranean. (3) A Mediterranean diet comprises plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, little to no red meat, certainly no chemicals or meat additives, and an abundance of omega-3 foods.
As we look into the anti-inflammatory components of certain foods and herbs, we can see how this kind of diet is linked with lowered inflammation. Among the many compounds found in fresh produce, a few general categories stand out as beneficial when attacking inflammation and inflammatory diseases at their source.
- Antioxidant foods
- Essential fatty acids
There’s little doubt that the pursuit of a healing diet or a Paleo diet begins with a menu high in vegetables, fruits, wild meats and sprouted seeds rich with omega-3 benefits. The evidence is clear that such anti-inflammatory foods can regulate the immune system and impact the way inflammation affects our bodies and our lives. (4)
Related: Improve Your Diet & Health with a Clean Eating Meal Plan
Top 15 Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Small, gradual changes are typically more sustainable, easier for the body to adapt to and can make you less likely to go back to your old ways. So rather than emptying your pantry and sailing off to the Mediterranean, you can pursue an anti-inflammatory diet one step at a time.
By adding in the anti-inflammatory foods that fight inflammation and restore health at a cellular level, you can begin to repair the body without any drastic changes. Once you find foods that heal your body and satisfy your palate, you can remove the inflammation-causing offenders without feeling deprived. Let’s take a look at 15 of the best anti-inflammatory foods you can add to your diet.
1. Green Leafy Vegetables
The produce drawer is the first spot in your refrigerator or pantry to fill when fighting inflammation. Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants that restore cellular health, as well as anti-inflammatory flavonoids. If you struggle to consume added portions of green leafy vegetables, try this delicious anti-inflammatory juice that incorporates greens alongside some of the strongest anti-inflammatory foods in the list.
Swiss chard nutrition, for example, is extremely high in the antioxidants vitamin A and C, as well as vitamin K, which can protect your brain against oxidative stress caused by free radical damage. Eating chard can also protect you against the common vitamin K deficiency.
2. Bok Choy
Also known as Chinese cabbage, bok choy is an excellent source of antioxidant vitamins and minerals. In fact, recent studies show that there are over 70 antioxidant phenolic substances in bok choy. These include something called hydroxycinnamic acids, which are robust antioxidants that scavenge free radicals. (5) A versatile vegetable, bok choy can be made in many dishes outside of Chinese cuisine, so make it a go-to anti-inflammatory food.
In recent pharmacological studies, benefits of celery include both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities that help improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as prevent heart disease. Celery seeds — which can be found either in whole seed form, extract form or ground-up — have impressive health benefits on their own, as they help to lower inflammation and to fight bacterial infections. It’s an excellent source of potassium, as well as antioxidants and vitamins.
Also, balance is the key to a healthy body free of inflammation. A good example of mineral balance tied to inflammation is the proper mix of sodium foods and potassium-rich foods. Sodium brings in fluid and nutrients, while potassium flushes toxins. We know that processed foods are high in sodium, but our SAD diets aren’t as rich in potassium. Without this pairing, toxins can build up in the body, once again inviting inflammation. One of the benefits of celery is that it’s an excellent source of potassium, as well as antioxidants and vitamins.
A marker of a food chock-full of antioxidants is its deep color, and beets are a prime example! The umbrella category of antioxidants includes a great deal of substances. In general, they fight to repair the cell damage caused by inflammation. In the case of beets, the antioxidant betalain gives them their signature color and is an excellent anti-inflammatory. (6) When added to the diet, beet benefits include repairing cells and adding high levels of inflammation-fighting potassium and magnesium.
Beets also contain quite a bit of magnesium, and a magnesium deficiency is strongly linked with inflammatory conditions. (7) Calcium, while a vital nutrient, is not processed well within the body without magnesium. When calcium builds up in the body, it becomes unwanted — this unpleasant buildup, such as calcified kidney stones, then invites inflammation. But when a balanced diet is consumed, with anti-inflammatory foods rich in calcium as well as magnesium, the body better processes what’s consumed.
The poster vegetable for healthy eating, it’s no secret that broccoli is a valuable addition to any diet. For an anti-inflammatory diet, it’s invaluable. Broccoli is high in both potassium and magnesium, and its antioxidants are particularly potent anti-inflammatory substances in their own right. (8)
Broccoli is an antioxidant powerhouse, with key vitamins, flavonoids and carotenoids, and thus a perfect anti-inflammatory food. These work together to lower oxidative stress in the body and help battle both chronic inflammation and the risk of developing cancer. (9)
One antioxidant in particular stands out as an especially strong anti-inflammatory, and that’s quercetin. Found in citrus, olive oil and dark-colored berries, quercetin is a flavonoid (a beneficial substance or phytonutrient that’s prevalent in fresh foods) that fights inflammation and even cancer. (10) The presence of quercetin as well as the fellow phytonutrient anthocyanins (so-called water-soluble vacuolar pigments that usually appear red, purple or blue) explains why there are so many health benefits of blueberries. (Both quercetin and anthocyanins are also naturally occurring in cherries.)
In a study seeking treatment for IBD, an extract from the noni fruit was used to affect the gut flora and colon damage done by inflammatory diseases. Of the effects the extract had, quercetin created the prominent anti-inflammatory actions.
Another study found that consuming more blueberries slowed cognitive decline and improved memory and motor function. The scientists in this study believed these results were due to the antioxidants in blueberries protective the body from oxidative stress and reducing inflammation.
Usually, when it’s packaged in supplement form, quercetin is often paired with bromelain, a digestive enzyme that’s one of the benefits of pineapple. After being used for years as part of an anti-inflammatory foods protocol, bromelain is observed to have immune-modulating abilities — that is, it helps regulate the immune response that so often creates unwanted and unnecessary inflammation. (11)
Pineapple also helps improve heart health because of the effects of powerful bromelain. which can fight blood clotting and is nature’s answer to those taking an aspirin a day to lower the risk of heart attack. Bromelain has been shown to stop blood platelets from sticking together or building up along the walls of blood vessels – both known causes of heart attacks or strokes.
The benefits of pineapple are due to its high supply of vitamin C, vitamin B1, potassium and manganese, in addition to other special antioxidants that help prevent disease formation. Pineapple is filled with phytonutrients that work as well as many medicines do to reduce symptoms of some of the most common illnesses and conditions we see today.
It’s the ultimate fatty fish. Salmon is an excellent source of essential fatty acids, and considered one of the best omega-3 foods. Omega-3s are some of the most potent anti-inflammatory substances, showing consistent relief of inflammation and reduction of the need for anti-inflammatory medications. (12)
Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function. (13)
The source of fish and meat among anti-inflammatory foods is a vital component. One of the dangers of farmed fish is it doesn’t have the same nutrients as wild-caught salmon.
9. Bone broth
Bone broths contain minerals in forms that your body can easily absorb: calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and others. They contain chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, the compounds sold as pricey supplements to reduce inflammation, arthritis and joint pain. (14)
When my patients suffer from leaky gut syndrome, I ask them to consume a lot of bone broth it contains collagen and the amino acids proline and glycine that can help heal leaky gut and the damaged cell walls of the inflamed gut.
When following a diet without a lot of meats, nuts and seeds can make up the difference for protein and omega-3s. Add omega-3-rich walnuts to green leafy salads drizzled with olive oil for a satisfying anti-inflammatory meal, or grab a handful for an on-the-go snack.
Phytonutrients can help protect against metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular problems and type 2 diabetes. And some phytonutrients in walnuts are hard to find in any other foods. (15)
11. Coconut oil
So much can be written about the way herbs and oils work together to form anti-inflammatory partnerships. Lipids (fats) and spices create strong anti-inflammatory compounds, especially coconut oil and the components of turmeric (see #15). (16) In a study in India, the high levels of antioxidants present in virgin coconut oil reduced inflammation and healed arthritis more effectively than leading medications. (17)
Also, oxidative stress and free radicals are the two biggest culprits of osteoporosis. Since coconut oil benefits include fighting such free radicals with its high levels of antioxidants, it’s a leading natural treatment for osteoporosis.
Coconut oil uses include topical preparations as well as culinary — and as a heat-stable oil, it’s excellent for sautéing anti-inflammatory vegetables.
12. Chia seeds
Fatty acids found in nature are more balanced than the fats we typically consume in our typical diets. Chia seeds benefits, for example, offer both omega-3 and omega-6, which should be consumed in balance with one another. (18)
Chia are an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory powerhouse, containing essential fatty acids alpha-linolenic and linoleic acid, mucin, strontium, vitamins A, B, E, and D, and minerals including sulphur, iron, iodine, magnesium, manganese, niacin, thiamine.
Chia seeds’ ability to reverse inflammation, regulate cholesterol and lower blood pressure make it extremely beneficial to consume for heart health. (19) Also, by reversing oxidative stress, someone is less likely to develop atherosclerosis when they’re regularly consuming chia seeds.
An excellent source of omega-3s and phytonutrients, flaxseeds benefits include being packed with antioxidants. Lignans are unique fiber-related polyphenols that provide us with antioxidant benefits for anti-aging, hormone balance and cellular health. Polyphenols support the growth of probiotics in the gut and may also help eliminate yeast and candida in the body.
Before you use them alongside your other new anti-inflammatory foods, consider grinding them in a coffee grinder to ensure the digestive tract has easy access to their many benefits. (20)
Turmeric’s primary compound, curcumin, is its active anti-inflammatory component. Documented for its affects against inflammation in numerous circumstances, turmeric health benefits prove invaluable in an anti-inflammatory diet. (21)
The journal Oncogene published the results of a study that evaluated several anti-inflammatory compounds. It found that aspirin (Bayer, etc.) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc.) are least potent, while curcumin is among the most potent anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative agents in the world. (22)
Due to its high anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is highly effective at helping people manage rheumatoid arthritis (RA). A recent study out of Japan evaluated its relationship with interleukin (IL)-6, the inflammatory cytokine known to be involved in the RA process, and discovered that curcumin “significantly reduced” these inflammatory markers. (23)
Used fresh, dried, or in supplement form and extracts, ginger is another immune modulator that helps reduce inflammation caused by overactive immune responses.
Ayurvedic medicine has praised ginger’s ability to boost the immune system before recorded history. It believes that because ginger is so effective at warming the body, it can help break down the accumulation of toxins in your organs. It’s also known to cleanse the lymphatic system, our body’s sewage system.
In fact, ginger health benefits may even include treating inflammation in allergic and asthmatic disorders. (24)
With anti-inflammatory foods filling the diet, you naturally begin to eliminate pro-inflammatory foods and substances — they’re not as satisfying as a diet rich in whole foods.
A prime suspect is the duo of saturated and trans fatty acids (trans fat). Found in processed foods, these fats cause inflammation and increase risk factors for obesity (such as increased belly fat), diabetes and heart conditions. (25) The same foods are also likely to be higher in omega-6 fatty acids, which are necessary but only to an extent.
In excess and without the balance of omega-3s, omega-6 fats actually create inflammation in the body. Sadly, the University of Maryland Medical Center reports, “The typical American diet tends to contain 14–25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids.” (26)
Simple, refined sugars and carbohydrates are more inflammation-causing culprits. Limiting refined grains is an important factor in an anti-inflammatory diet. (27) Whole grains should replace the refined carbohydrates, as truly whole grains are important sources of nutrition. (28) Sourcing these grains as fermented sourdough allows the nutrients to be broken down and better available to the body. (29)
Finally, establishing a regular routine of physical activity can help prevent systemic inflammation from building up or returning. (30) An active life fueled by fresh, whole anti-inflammatory foods and unrestricted by processed, toxic compounds can set you on the path toward freedom from inflammation.
Read Next: Top 10 Magnesium Rich Foods Plus Proven Benefits
Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet
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It is becoming increasingly clear that chronic inflammation is the root cause of many serious illnesses – including heart disease, many cancers, and Alzheimer’s disease. We all know inflammation on the surface of the body as local redness, heat, swelling and pain. It is the cornerstone of the body’s healing response, bringing more nourishment and more immune activity to a site of injury or infection. But when inflammation persists or serves no purpose, it damages the body and causes illness. Stress, lack of exercise, genetic predisposition, and exposure to toxins (like secondhand tobacco smoke) can all contribute to such chronic inflammation, but dietary choices play a big role as well. Learning how specific foods influence the inflammatory process is the best strategy for containing it and reducing long-term disease risks. (Find more details on the mechanics of the inflammation process and the Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid.)
The Anti-Inflammatory Diet is not a diet in the popular sense – it is not intended as a weight-loss program (although people can and do lose weight on it), nor is the Anti-Inflammatory Diet an eating plan to stay on for a limited period of time. Rather, it is a way of selecting and preparing anti-inflammatory foods based on scientific knowledge of how they can help your body maintain optimum health. Along with influencing inflammation, this natural anti-inflammatory diet will provide steady energy and ample vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids dietary fiber, and protective phytonutrients.
You can also adapt your existing recipes according to these anti-inflammatory diet tips:
General Anti-Inflammatory Diet Tips:
- Aim for variety.
- Include as much fresh food as possible.
- Minimize your consumption of processed foods and fast food.
- Eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables.
- Most adults need to consume between 2,000 and 3,000 calories a day.
- Women and smaller and less active people need fewer calories.
- Men and bigger and more active people need more calories.
- If you are eating the appropriate number of calories for your level of activity, your weight should not fluctuate greatly.
- The distribution of calories you take in should be as follows: 40 to 50 percent from carbohydrates, 30 percent from fat, and 20 to 30 percent from protein.
- Try to include carbohydrates, fat, and protein at each meal.
- On a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, adult women should consume between 160 to 200 grams of carbohydrates a day.
- Adult men should consume between 240 to 300 grams of carbohydrates a day.
- The majority of this should be in the form of less-refined, less-processed foods with a low glycemic load.
- Reduce your consumption of foods made with wheat flour and sugar, especially bread and most packaged snack foods (including chips and pretzels).
- Eat more whole grains such as brown rice and bulgur wheat, in which the grain is intact or in a few large pieces. These are preferable to whole wheat flour products, which have roughly the same glycemic index as white flour products.
- Eat more beans, winter squashes, and sweet potatoes.
- Cook pasta al dente and eat it in moderation.
- Avoid products made with high fructose corn syrup.
- On a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, 600 calories can come from fat – that is, about 67 grams. This should be in a ratio of 1:2:1 of saturated to monounsaturated to polyunsaturated fat.
- Reduce your intake of saturated fat by eating less butter, cream, high-fat cheese, unskinned chicken and fatty meats, and products made with palm kernel oil.
- Use extra-virgin olive oil as a main cooking oil. If you want a neutral tasting oil, use expeller-pressed, organic canola oil. Organic, high-oleic, expeller pressed versions of sunflower and safflower oil are also acceptable.
- Avoid regular safflower and sunflower oils, corn oil, cottonseed oil, and mixed vegetable oils.
- Strictly avoid margarine, vegetable shortening, and all products listing them as ingredients. Strictly avoid all products made with partially hydrogenated oils of any kind. Include in your diet avocados and nuts, especially walnuts, cashews, almonds, and nut butters made from these nuts.
- For omega-3 fatty acids, eat salmon (preferably fresh or frozen wild or canned sockeye), sardines packed in water or olive oil, herring, and black cod (sablefish, butterfish); omega-3 fortified eggs; hemp seeds and flaxseeds (preferably freshly ground); or take a fish oil supplement (look for products that provide both EPA and DHA, in a convenient daily dosage of two to three grams).
- On a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, your daily intake of protein should be between 80 and 120 grams. Eat less protein if you have liver or kidney problems, allergies, or autoimmune disease.
- Decrease your consumption of animal protein except for fish and high quality natural cheese and yogurt.
- Eat more vegetable protein, especially from beans in general and soybeans in particular. Become familiar with the range of whole-soy foods available and find ones you like.
- Try to eat 40 grams of fiber a day. You can achieve this by increasing your consumption of fruit, especially berries, vegetables (especially beans), and whole grains.
- Ready-made cereals can be good fiber sources, but read labels to make sure they give you at least 4 and preferably 5 grams of bran per one-ounce serving.
- To get maximum natural protection against age-related diseases (including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative disease) as well as against environmental toxicity, eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and mushrooms.
- Choose fruits and vegetables from all parts of the color spectrum, especially berries, tomatoes, orange and yellow fruits, and dark leafy greens.
- Choose organic produce whenever possible. Learn which conventionally grown crops are most likely to carry pesticide residues and avoid them.
- Eat cruciferous (cabbage-family) vegetables regularly.
- Include soy foods in your diet.
- Drink tea instead of coffee, especially good quality white, green or oolong tea.
- If you drink alcohol, use red wine preferentially.
- Enjoy plain dark chocolate in moderation (with a minimum cocoa content of 70 percent).
Vitamins and Minerals
The best way to obtain all of your daily vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients is by eating a diet high in fresh foods with an abundance of fruits and vegetables. In addition, supplement your diet with the following antioxidant cocktail:
- Vitamin C, 200 milligrams a day.
- Vitamin E. Most adults should limit their daily supplement intake of vitamin E to 100-200 IU (in the form of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols).
- Selenium, 100-200 micrograms per day.
- Mixed carotenoids, 10,000-15,000 IU daily.
- The antioxidants can be most conveniently taken as part of a daily multivitamin/multimineral supplement. It should contain no iron (unless you are a female and having regular menstrual periods) and no preformed vitamin A (retinol). Take these supplements with your largest meal.
- Women should take supplemental calcium, preferably as calcium citrate, 500-700 milligrams a day, depending on their dietary intake of this mineral. Men should avoid supplemental calcium.
Other Measures To Consider
- If you are not eating oily fish at least twice a week, take supplemental fish oil, in capsule or liquid form (two to three grams a day of a product containing both EPA and DHA). Look for molecularly distilled products certified to be free of heavy metals and other contaminants.
- Talk to your doctor about going on low-dose aspirin therapy, one or two baby aspirins a day (81 or 162 milligrams).
- If you are not regularly eating ginger and turmeric, consider taking these in supplemental form.
- Add coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) to your daily regimen: 60-100 milligrams of a softgel form taken with your largest meal.
- If you are prone to metabolic syndrome, take alpha-lipoic acid, 100 to 400 milligrams a day.
- Drink pure water, or drinks that are mostly water (tea, very diluted fruit juice, sparkling water with lemon) throughout the day.
- Use bottled water or get a home water purifier if your tap water tastes of chlorine or other contaminants, or if you live in an area where the water is known or suspected to be contaminated.
Also, read the 16 Top Sources for the Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Watch Dr. Weil discuss How to Eat: The Anti-Inflammatory Diet
We all want to perform at our best—whether it’s at work, at the gym or playing with our kids. But one of the biggest issues that many people face is chronic inflammation. Inflammation can cause pain and fatigue that can hold you back.
“Inflammation is more than the swollen finger you hit with a hammer or the toe you stubbed,” said Dana M. Alexander, a dietitian at Geisinger. “When we don’t take care of our bodies, we can develop chronic inflammation, which can show up throughout the entire body, leading to joint pain, weight gain and even diseases like Alzheimer’s or heart disease.”
Believe it or not, inflammation is often a good thing—it’s how your immune system alerts your body that there’s an issue that needs to be taken care of. There are many different things that can cause inflammation, but a contributing factor is often found in the typical American diet, with foods that are rich in fat and salt.
“French fries and soda might be delicious, but too much of these foods can leave you feeling achy, tired and out of sorts,” said Alexander. “Research points to inflammation causing chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s, dementia and diabetes.”
The good news is that inflammation can be reduced by selecting foods with anti-inflammatory properties.
Here are eight foods that can help you reduce inflammation.
Berries (mostly blueberries)
These little superfoods can pack a punch when it comes to reducing inflammation.
“Berries, especially blueberries, are full of vitamins and antioxidants called flavonoids that can help fight inflammation,” said Alexander. “They also have chemicals that help regulate your immune system, which can reduce chronic inflammation.”
Beating inflammation is as easy as a cup of tea. Tea has antioxidants called catechins, reduce inflammation. Green tea contains EGCG, the most powerful type of catechin. Other teas have this effect too, but green tea has the most benefits.
The humble beet has its benefits. Studies show that beets can decrease inflammation and other risk factors for chronic diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes.
Broccoli and other vegetables in the cruciferous family are all high in vitamin K. Some research suggests that vitamin K can help regulate inflammation in the body by affecting as many as 14 different causes of inflammation. Unfortunately, most of us do not get enough vitamin K in our diets. There are two types of vitamin K—one that is found in leafy green vegetables like spinach and one that is found in liver and eggs.
“When most people think of chocolate, they think of it as a treat instead of a health food,” said Alexander. “But, cocoa contains antioxidants that reduce inflammation and lower blood sugar levels. Make sure to get chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao for the highest amounts of antioxidants.”
When it comes to inflammation, you’ll hear about omega-3 fatty acids. Fish, especially salmon, is a great source of omega-3s—it contains two different types, DHA and EPA. Omega-3s are a type of nutrient that can help reduce inflammation and ease joint pain.
Ginger is more than just a side to sushi or an ingredient in tea; ginger has benefits of its own, too. Ginger contains chemicals that are antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. Studies show that it helps ease severe inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis, too.
While it may not be familiar to many Americans, turmeric is popular in Asia—particularly in India.
Turmeric is a yellow spice that has many health benefits. One of the chemicals in turmeric inhibits chronic inflammatory signals in the body. This eases inflammation, which can prevent joint damage, arthritis, heart disease and liver damage.
For more information, visit Geisinger.org.
Using herbs, spices and other foods to help reduce inflammation in the body might not seem like a big deal. But it’s actually one of the best ways to protect your health, says Amy Jamieson-Petonic, Director of Wellness Coaching at Cleveland Clinic.
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Chronic inflammation — a normal bodily process gone awry — can contribute to conditions ranging from heart disease and diabetes to cancer. The scariest part? You may not even realize you have this condition.
Flying under the radar
It’s impossible to ignore the acute inflammation that accompanies an injury — pain and swelling are the hallmarks.
In contrast, chronic inflammation happens deep down in your body and often doesn’t cause any symptoms. So it can fly under the radar. But that doesn’t stop it from wreaking havoc on your health.
The good news is that the day-to-day choices you make — what you pop in your mouth, especially — affect your inflammation levels.
Your body’s three-alarm fire
Inflammation isn’t inherently bad. In fact, we couldn’t survive without it. Normal inflammation is the body’s response to any injury or infection. It’s part of your body’s natural healing process.
Say you scrape your knee and develop a skin infection. Your immune system sends waves of specialized cells to attack the bacteria and damaged tissue, like an army of soldiers fighting off an invading force. When the good guys have gained the upper hand, they recede, and your body begins to heal.
That’s the key part: The inflammation shuts off. It helps your body heal but doesn’t damage it unless something has gone awry. The problems arise when it fails to shut off and becomes chronic — that’s when it does harm.
Fanning the flames
Chronic inflammation isn’t restricted to one area of your body. It burns slowly and steadily, releasing molecules of inflammation such as cytokines and C-reactive protein (CRP).
Over time, this causes a chemical chain reaction in the body that leads to serious problems. Arteries can become inflamed, setting the stage for heart attacks and strokes. Insulin resistance (a diabetes precursor), full-blown diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and even depression can develop.
An everyday injury or infection can spark the initial flame, but it takes more than that to keep it burning. High blood pressure can contribute to inflammation, as can being obese. Smoking and stress also encourage the destructive domino effect. And then there’s your diet.
Some foods are fire starters
Almost everything we eat either encourages or discourages inflammation. The Mediterranean diet works wonders for controlling inflammation. There are lots of reasons to avoid saturated fats, refined carbs and sugars, and trans fats (the type so prevalent in processed foods). But it turns out that these foods can also help create those molecules of inflammation.
Think of them as fire starters. In one study, the more sweets, red meat, processed meat, “white” foods and french fries people ate, the higher their levels of CRP and other indicators of inflammation.
Some foods are fire fighters
Luckily, there are fire fighters galore too. Plant foods are rich in antioxidants and other phytonutrients. These healthy compounds have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Vegetables, fruit, herbs and spices are loaded with compounds that reduce inflammation, as are whole grains, olive oil, nuts, seeds and legumes.
And the omega-3s — the healthy fats found in fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna — also help cool the flames. Focusing on these foods will also help keep your weight healthy, which is critical for keeping inflammation in check.
Studies bear out the benefits
One large study showed that people who eat a lot of veggies and fruit but avoid meat and white flour have lower levels of inflammation. Upping your fiber alone — which will happen naturally on the Mediterranean diet — has been shown to lower levels of CRP by up to 40%..
So eating a Mediterranean diet might be the change that prevents you from developing inflammation that can lead to a host of medical conditions.
You may not be able to cut out every last fire-starter in your life. But you can gain the upper hand by making smart choices about what’s on your plate.
What Are Anti-Inflammatory Foods?
The goal of an anti-inflammatory diet for arthritis is to reduce unnecessary inflammation and the joint degeneration and pain it causes.
Following proper nutrition may help to reduce uneccessary inflammation.
Inflammatory Foods to Avoid
According to many experts, certain foods seem to promote inflammation and should be avoided.
- Processed foods, such as commercial baked goods and bars and many prepackaged meals
- Red meat
- Refined grain products, such as white bread and white pasta
- Refined sugar and refined sugar products, such as candy and soda
- Deep-fried foods
- Certain oils, including corn, safflower, soy, and peanut oils
- Dry roasted nuts and beer nuts
See Foods to Avoid with Fibromyalgia
Grocery stores are filled with processed foods and sugary drinks—too many to list here—so this list is merely a guideline. People are encouraged to read food labels and avoid foods that contain ingredients such as refined sugar, corn syrup, refined flour, and corn oils.
Anti-Inflammatory Foods Central to an Anti-inflammatory Diet
Chemical compounds found naturally in many foods, including most fruits and vegetables, seem to have anti-inflammatory properties. Certain anti-inflammatory foods, like the ones listed below, are highly recommended.
- Cold water fish, such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines, bass, and anchovies
- Fresh and (additive-free) frozen fruits, including apples, apricots, bananas, berries, cantaloupe, grapes, kiwi fruit, oranges, papaya, pineapple, and avocados
- Certain oils, including flaxseed and olive oils
- Nuts, including almonds, walnuts, and macadamia nuts
- Deep green vegetables such as spinach, kale, swiss chard, collards, and broccoli
- Other vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, onions, and sweet potatoes
- Certain spices, including ginger and turmeric
- Green tea and water, particularly mineral water
- Whole grains, including wheat, rice, barley, buckwheat, bulgur wheat, millet, oats, quinoa, and spelt
- Flaxseeds, chia seeds, and tofu
Watch: Video: Reduce Arthritis Inflammation with this Delicious Smoothie
See Turmeric and Curcumin for Arthritis
Watch: Video: The Best-Tasting Anti-Inflammatory Cocktail You’ve Never Tried
Fish, vegetable oils, walnuts, flax seeds, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, and leafy vegetables are especially high in omega-3 fatty acids (sometimes called n-3 fatty acids). Evidence shows that a diet that includes omega-3 fatty acids can lead to a modest reduction in symptoms for patients with rheumatoid arthritis.1
Just because a food is not on the above list does not mean it cannot be part of an anti-inflammatory diet. There are many varieties of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts, beans, and lean fish, so people can take advantage of this diversity to enjoy a delicious and varied diet.
See How to Create a Fibromyalgia-Friendly Diet
In This Article:
- An Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Arthritis
- What Are Anti-Inflammatory Foods?
- The Ins and Outs of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
- Video: The Best-Tasting Anti-Inflammatory Cocktail You’ve Never Tried
3 Controversial Foods in an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Some foods that are normally considered part of a healthy diet may cause inflammation in some people. Common examples of these foods are nightshade plants, dairy products, and wheat gluten.
- Nightshade plants
Eggplant, pepper, white potatoes and tomatoes are collectively called “nightshade” plants. These plants contain a chemical called solanine, which some people believe promotes arthritis inflammation.
The Arthritis Foundation does not support the position that nightshade plants cause arthritis inflammation but does acknowledge that some people may be sensitive to certain vegetables.
- Dairy products
Over the years researchers have found that dairy products are associated with many benefits, such as reducing the risk of gout in men2 and slowing down the progression of osteoarthritis in women.3 Low-fat yogurt, cheese and milk can be particularly beneficial. However, in certain people, dairy products may produce inflammation that affects the joints.4
- See Gout Prevention and Osteoarthritis Symptoms and Signs
Like dairy products, whole-wheat products can be part of a healthy diet. However, a protein found in wheat, called gluten, is associated with inflammation and joint pain in certain individuals.
See How Gluten Can Cause Joint Pain
People with an allergy or sensitivity to gluten should not eat wheat, barley or bulgur wheat. They should also avoid oats that are not labeled gluten free. (Oats are naturally gluten free, but many oat crops are grown in rotation with wheat and barley crops and are therefore cross-contaminated.)
See Ingredients That May Trigger Fibromyalgia Symptoms
Food allergies and sensitivities vary from person to person. Individuals may need to work with a health care provider or nutritionist to find an optimal, tailored anti-inflammatory diet.
June 19, 2013 — intro: Inflammation is part of the body’s immune response; without it, we can’t heal. But when it’s out of control—as in rheumatoid arthritis—it can damage the body. Plus, it’s thought to play a role in obesity, heart disease, and cancer.
Foods high in sugar and saturated fat can spur inflammation. “They cause overactivity in the immune system, which can lead to joint pain, fatigue, and damage to the blood vessels,” says Scott Zashin, MD, clinical professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
Other foods may curb inflammation. Add these items to your plate today.
quicklist: 1 category: Foods That Fight Inflammation title: Fatty Fish url: text: Oily fish, like salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines, are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help reduce inflammation. To get the benefits, however, you need to eat fish several times a week, and it should be cooked in healthy ways: In a 2009 study from the University of Hawaii, men who ate baked or boiled fish (as opposed to fried, dried, or salted) cut their risk of heart disease by 23 percent compared to those who ate the least.
Not a fan of fish? Consider fish-oil supplements. They can cut inflammation, although a 2013 study found that if a diet is too high in omega-6 fatty acids (found in processed foods and vegetable oil), fish-oil supplements may spur inflammation.
The 10 Best Foods for Your Heart
quicklist: 2 category: Foods That Fight Inflammation title: Whole Grains url: text: Consuming most of your grains as whole grains, as opposed to refined, white bread, cereal, rice, and pasta can help keep harmful inflammation at bay. That’s because whole grains have more fiber, which has been shown to reduce levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation in the blood, and they usually have less added sugar.
But a 2013 Harvard study found that not all products labeled “whole grain” are much healthier than their refined counterparts. To be sure you’re getting the benefits, look for foods with a whole grain as the first ingredient, and no added sugars.
Don’t Be Fooled By These Food Labels
quicklist: 3 category: Foods That Fight Inflammation title: Dark Leafy Greens url: text: Studies have suggested that vitamin E may play a key role in protecting the body from pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines—and one of the best sources of this vitamin is dark green veggies, such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and collard greens. Dark greens and cruciferous vegetables also tend to have higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals—like calcium, iron, and disease-fighting phytochemicals—than those with lighter-colored leaves.
11 Healthy Kale Recipes
quicklist: 4 category: Foods That Fight Inflammation title: Nuts url: text: Another source of inflammation-fighting healthy fats is nuts—particularly almonds, which are rich in fiber, calcium, and vitamin E, and walnuts, which have high amounts of alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fat. All nuts, though, are packed with antioxidants, which can help your body fight off and repair the damage caused by inflammation. Nuts (along with fish, leafy greens, and whole grains) are a big part of the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to reduce inflammation in as little as six weeks.
Best and Worst Nuts for Your Health
quicklist: 5 category: Foods That Fight Inflammation title: Soy url: text: Several studies have suggested that isoflavones, estrogen-like compounds found in soy products, may help lower CRP and inflammation levels in women—and a 2007 animal study published in the Journal of Inflammation found that isoflavones also helped reduce the negative effects of inflammation on bone and heart health in mice.
Avoid heavily-processed soy whenever possible, which may not include the same benefits and is usually paired with additives and preservatives. Instead, aim to get more soy milk, tofu, and edamame (boiled soybeans) into your regular diet.
Everything You Need to Know About Soy
quicklist: 6 category: Foods That Fight Inflammation title: Low-Fat Dairy url: text: Milk products are sometimes considered a trigger food for inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, because some people have allergies or intolerances to casein, the protein found in dairy. But for people who can tolerate it, low-fat and nonfat milk are an important source of nutrients. Yogurt can also contain probiotics, which can reduce gut inflammation.
“Foods with calcium and vitamin D, such as yogurt and skim milk, are good for everyone,” says Karen H. Costenbader, MD, associate professor of medicine and rheumatoid arthritis doctor at Harvard Medical School. In addition to their anti-inflammatory properties, she says, “it is important to get enough calcium and vitamin D for bone strength, and possibly reduction of cancer and other health risks.”
11 Foods for Healthy Bones
quicklist: 7 category: Foods That Fight Inflammation title: Peppers url: text: “Colorful vegetables are part of a healthier diet in general,” says Dr. Costenbader. “As opposed to white potatoes or corn, colorful peppers, tomatoes, squash, and leafy vegetables have high quantities of antioxidant vitamins and lower levels of starch.” Bell peppers are available in a variety of colors, while hot peppers (like chili and cayenne) are rich in capsaicin, a chemical that’s used in topical creams that reduce pain and inflammation.
Peppers, however, are nightshade vegetables—which some doctors and patients believe can exasperate inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis. “What helps one person may be harmful to another,” says Dr. Zashin. “You just need to pay attention to your diet and your symptoms, and stick with what works for you.”
Diet Changes That May Ease RA Pain
quicklist: 8 category: Foods That Fight Inflammation title: Tomatoes url: text: Tomatoes, another nightshade veggie, may also help reduce inflammation in some people. (Of course, Dr. Zashin’s advice about what works for you, individually, applies here, as well.)
Juicy red tomatoes, specifically, are rich in lycopene, which has been shown to reduce inflammation in the lungs and throughout the body. Cooked tomatoes contain even more lycopene than raw ones, so tomato sauce works, too—and a 2012 Iranian study found that tomato juice consumption was also beneficial.
The Best Foods for Every Vitamin and Mineral
quicklist: 9 category: Foods That Fight Inflammation title: Beets url: text: This vegetable’s brilliant red color is a tip-off to its equally brilliant antioxidant properties: Beets (and beetroot juice) have been shown to reduce inflammation, as well as protect against cancer and heart disease, thanks to their hearty helping of fiber, vitamin C and plant pigments called betalains.
quicklist: 10 category: Foods That Fight Inflammation title: Ginger and turmeric url: text: These spices, common in Asian and Indian cooking, have been shown in various studies to have anti-inflammatory properties. “While the evidence in terms of RA inflammation is not very strong, they are vegetables—and part of a healthy, vegetable-rich diet,” says Dr. Costenbader.
Turmeric, the ingredient that gives curry its yellow color, works in the body by helping to turn off a NF-kappa B, a protein that regulates the immune system and triggers the process of inflammation, researchers say. Its relative ginger, meanwhile, has been shown to reduce inflammation in the intestines when taken in supplement form.
Hurry, Eat Curry to Fight Infection, Inflammation
quicklist: 11 category: Foods That Fight Inflammation title: Garlic and Onions url: text: There’s a good reason why these pungent vegetables are known for their immunity-boosting properties. In test-tube and animal studies, garlic has been shown to work similarly to NSAID pain medications (like ibuprofen), shutting off the pathways that lead to inflammation. Onions contain similar anti-inflammatory chemicals, including the phytonutrient quercetin and the compound allicin, which breaks down to produce free radical-fighting sulfenic acid.
quicklist: 12 category: Foods That Fight Inflammation title: Olive Oil url: text: “Anything that fits into a heart-healthy diet is probably also good for inflammation—and that includes healthy, plant-based fats like olive oil,” says Dr. Zashin, author of Natural Arthritis Treatment. In fact, a 2010 Spanish study found that the Mediterranean diet’s myriad health benefits may be largely due to its liberal use of olive oil, especially the extra-virgin kind. The compound oleocanthal, which gives olive oil its taste, has been shown to have a similar effect as NSAID painkillers in the body.
How to Eat Like A Greek Islander
quicklist: 13 category: Foods That Fight Inflammation title: Berries url: text: All fruits can help fight inflammation, because they’re low in fat and calories and high in antioxidants. But berries, especially, have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties—possibly because of anthocyanins, the powerful chemicals that gives them their rich color.
Studies have shown, for example, that red raspberry extract helped prevent animals from developing arthritis; that blueberries can help protect against intestinal inflammation and ulcerative colitis; and that women who eat more strawberries have lower levels of CRP in their blood.
6 Healthiest Berries for Women’s Hearts
quicklist: 14 category: Foods That Fight Inflammation title: Tart Cherries url: text: In a 2012 presentation, Oregon Health & Science University researchers suggested that tart cherries have the “highest anti-inflammatory content of any food.” Studies have found that tart cherry juice can reduce the inflammation in lab rats’ blood vessels by up to 50%; in humans, meanwhile, it’s been shown to help athletes improve their performance and reduce their use of anti-inflammatory pain meds.
Experts recommend eating 1.5 cups of tart cherries, or drinking 1 cup of tart cherry juice, a day to see similar benefits. And yep, they’ve got to be tart—sweet cherries just don’t seem to have the same effects.
This article originally appeared on Health.com.
5 Best and Worst Foods for Skin Inflammation
Inflammation is the biggest trigger for skin issues.
We all know when something is inflamed on the outside, but the problem really starts inside the body. Internal inflammation can happen for a host of reasons such as from poor dietary habits, environmental toxin exposures, immune system overactivity (allergies, autoimmune disease), digestive problems and even hormone imbalances.
A high level of inflammation within the body can cause many health problems including skin inflammation. One simple way to combat this is to eat more anti-inflammatory foods and eliminate the inflammatory ones.
But, what is an anti-inflammatory food? More importantly, what is an inflammatory food?
What you eat has a dramatic effect on your skin health. You may just think nutrition affects your internal health and your weight, but eating the right foods can also improve the quality of your skin and decrease skin inflammation.
5 Foods That Cause Skin Inflammation
- Sugar is everywhere. Try and limit processed foods, desserts and snacks with excess sugar. Opt for fruit instead. Check out my blog on sugar and your skin for more information on reducing your intake.
- Dairy promotes inflammatory biochemical pathways in the body. Milk (and other dairy products) is a common allergen that can trigger inflammation, digestive problems, acne, skin rashes, and even breathing difficulties.
- Barbecued and Overcooked Meat are age-accelerators and pro-inflammatory. Cooking meat at high temperatures, such as with barbecuing, increases advanced glycation end products (also know as AGEs). AGEs cause our skin to become less elastic and we become more prone to wrinkles and accelerated aging. In addition, research shows that meat cooked at high temperatures can become carcinogenic. Limit your intake of red meat to grass fed, and don’t overcook it.
- Refined Grains have very little fiber and have a high glycemic index. They are everywhere: white rice, white flour, white bread, pasta, pastries… Try and replace with minimally processed whole grains or skip the grains altogether and eat more veggies!
- Trans Fats and Common Cooking Oils such as “vegetable oil,” soy, corn, and cottonseed promote inflammation. You’ll find trans fats hidden as “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils. These oils are often used in packaged foods because they’re inexpensive and tend to have a long shelf life, but these oils should be completely avoided.
5 Anti Inflammatory Foods
- Berries have a high antioxidant content, which helps protect against and reverse oxidative damage associated with inflammation and premature aging. Aim for organic berries, as pesticides are hard to wash away due to their size.
- Sweet Potatoes are a great source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, beta-carotene, manganese and vitamin B6 and C, these potatoes actually help heal inflammation.
- Ginger contains a host of health benefits. Among them, it helps reduce inflammation and control blood sugar. Ginger in food or as tea is a great addition to any diet.
- Wild Alaskan Salmon contains anti-inflammatory omega 3s and the antioxidant astaxanthin. Choose wild over farmed to reduce your exposure to inflammation-boosting environmental toxins and enhance the nutrient levels.
- Cruciferous Vegetables broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale and cauliflower are all loaded with antioxidants. Naturally detoxifying, they can help rid the body of possible harmful compounds.
This is just a small taste of all the great healthy and anti-inflammatory foods out there. By focusing on foods like these, and avoiding the worst inflammatory foods, you help banish the causes of skin inflammation.
If you’d like more ideas on best and worst foods as well as top nutrients for skin health, you can get my book Clean Skin From Within on Amazon.
Not sure where to start? Take my skin quiz at www.TheSkinQuiz.com for your own customized skin report.