For thousands of years food was used not only to nourish and fill, but also to heal. As scientific advances allowed for the creation of pharmaceuticals, the use of the healing powers contained in many foods took a backseat in favor of prescriptions. But today research is proving what ancient cultures have known for centuries: the foods we eat play a powerful role in our health and wellness and we can even incorporate anti-inflammatory foods to up our health considerably!
While advances in medicine are wonderful, the power of food cannot be overlooked. Especially because the foods we eat have the power to either promote inflammation or to help prevent or reduce internal inflammation.
Why Is Too Much Inflammation Such a Bad Thing? Inflammation is not inherently a bad thing. A small amount of inflammation can actually be a good thing. It is the body’s response to injury or invader. The problem comes when there is an excess of inflammation in the body, which (thanks to factors such as the standard American diet (SAD)) happens all too often.
Excess internal inflammation plays a key role in a host of problems including joint pain, lethargy, weight gain, autoimmune disease, sleep problems, headaches, and much more. In addition to all of these problems, scientists are continually learning more diseases to which inflammation is a major contributor, including heart disease and some cancers.
How Does Food Affect Inflammation? You may be wondering what exactly the connection between food and this harmful excess inflammation is. Because of the reactions it causes in the body, food can cause either a pro-inflammatory or an anti-inflammatory response. Foods that are high in omega 6 fatty acids, are difficult to digest, are highly processed, or are high in sugar all promote dangerous levels of inflammation.
Thankfully, there are also foods that help to combat this inflammation. In particular, foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids and/or high in antioxidants are powerhouses for warding off harmful inflammation and its detrimental effects. Harness the power of anti-inflammatory foods by including these top anti-inflammatory foods in your diet on a daily basis.
Shopping List Top Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Produce:Because of their antioxidant levels, all fruits and vegetables are beneficial in the fight against inflammation, but the following options contain particular phytochemicals (naturally occurring chemical compound found in plants) that have been shown to be especially effective in reducing inflammation levels.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, & cabbage
Dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale (also contain omega 3s)
Omega 3 Fatty Acid Rich Foods: While both omega 6s and omega 3s are essential fatty acids, the typical diet has an excess of inflammation promoting omega 6 fatty acids and a deficit of omega 3s. Aim to remedy this deficit by getting in plenty of omega 3 rich foods each day.
Cold water fatty fish like tuna, salmon, and sardines
Misc. There are a few other dietary options that you can incorporate into your diet regularly to help ward off inflammation.
Spices, especially turmeric and ginger
So, considering upping your intake of anti-inflammatory foods to take better overall call of your health and wellness!