Dealing with a particularly stubborn eczema outbreak lately? Or are your gut issues leaving you blocked up again? Inflammation can affect us in mysterious ways, from our brain down to our toes, it’s all connected. So, let’s take a look at the inflammation-busting powerhouses to add to your weekly shopping list.
Chronic inflammation is one of the driving forces for developing diseases like cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, autoimmune conditions, heart disease and fatty liver disease. Our busy, high-stress lives combined with diets rich in added sugars, excess salt and hydrogenised oils, it’s no wonder than so many of us are falling ill with all manner of unexplained symptoms. For some of us, it’s itchy skin and gut troubles, while others may be feeling under the weather with what may seem like flu-like symptoms:
- High temperature
- Aches and pains
- Low appetite
The underlying cause may be inflammation, and it’s true what they say; you are what you eat. Here are 5 foods to fight inflammation and get your health back on track.
This fruit – yep, tomatoes are a fruit! – is rich in a range of vitamins and minerals, including immune-boosting vitamin C, along with packing an impressive lycopene content. Lycopene is an antioxidant hailed for its anti-inflammatory properties, and it’s even been linked to risk reductions for a variety of cancers. This is because it supports the following anti-cancer functions:
- Reducing DNA damage
- Promoting cancer-fighting enzymes
- Fighting the growth of cancer cells
Tip: Gently cook these in a bit of extra virgin olive oil – this will not only increase the lycopene content of the tomatoes, but it’ll give you an anti-inflammatory boost from the olive oil.
Berries should be your first port of call when you’re looking for an anti-inflammatory kick. Whether you go for strawberries, raspberries, blueberries or blackberries, you’re guaranteed a healthy dose of antioxidants – these nutrients slash your risk for inflammatory diseases. Part of the reason for this is the effect they have on natural killer cells – these are the cells help your immune system ward off pathogens – and a study proved those who consumed blueberry powder on the daily had significantly greater amounts of these anti-inflammatory cells. Plus, another study found that those who regularly ate strawberries had reduced inflammatory markers – the kinds that are associated with heart disease – than those who skipped out on the berries.
This comforting beverage isn’t just good for warming up a cold evening, it also happens to be loaded with anti-inflammatory polyphenols. These are health-boosting compounds which are known to reduce free radicals in the body, with one in particular – epigallocatchin-3-gallate – found to relieve the symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases. Green tea can also reduce the risks of developing conditions like Alzheimer’s, cancer and heart disease – all of which thrive on inflammation. Leaky gut – also known as gut permeability – involves a compromised gut lining where toxins may escape into your blood stream, and it’s a massive contributor to the development of heart disease and diabetes. Green tea, however, was shown to drastically reduce our chances of developing leaky gut, thereby warding off inflammation and the conditions that come with it.
This root veggie is loaded with antioxidants, plus it has antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. You know that aromatic, ginger-bready fragrance wafting off of ginger? That comes from an oil known as gingerol – and this is the ingredient you can thank for those anti-inflammatory properties. Not only does it help to reduce oxidative stress – this is the stuff that can cause premature aging, low immunity and even cancer – but it also fights infection in the body. A study shows it cuts down the chances of getting colds and flu, and decrease the severity of symptoms. Plus, ginger can also reduce swelling, making it beneficial for those with rheumatoid and osteoarthritis – both of which cause painful swelling of the joints. It can also help with the following:
- Period cramps
- Lowering blood sugars
- Reducing indigestion symptoms
Tip: For a persistent headache, mix a little ginger powder in with a glass of water. This should reduce the pain in a matter of minutes.
Extra virgin olive oil
The Ikarians are onto something – these long-living Greeks consume a healthy dose of olive oil, often with brekkie, lunch and dinner, and there’s a pretty good reason why you should too. The oleic acid in olive oil is responsible for its anti-inflammatory properties – this is a monounsaturated fat which makes up over 70% of the total makeup of olive oil. This stuff has been proven to reduce inflammation in the body, which in turn strengthens our DNA and cells, along with reducing our risk for cancer. The antioxidants in olive oil are the main weapons against inflammation, including one known as oleocanthal, which has similar effects to ibuprofen – one of the most popular pain relief drugs on the market – just a tablespoon of olive oil has the power of around 10% of the power of an ibuprofen dose. Pretty impressive for a humble oil! Studies also prove that the oleic acid in olive oil reduces the levels of C-reactive protein – this is a major marker of inflammation in the body. Lose this stuff and you’ll lose a lot of those unwanted symptoms too.
The runners up
There are a few other anti-inflammatory foods worth mentioning – after all, variety is the key to getting the most out of your diet.
- Leafy green veggies like spinach, cabbage, kale, and collard greens
- Nuts like walnuts, almonds and pistachios
- Omega 3-rich foods like salmon, hemp seeds and navy beans
- Fruits like apples, cherries and oranges
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