We’ve all heard of inflammation, but what does it mean in terms of our health? Put very simply, inflammation is our immune system’s response when something is wrong, whether it’s infection, stress, or injury. Unfortunately, more studies are showing that inflammation plays a significant role in most of the diseases plaguing our society, including arthritis, heart disease, irritable bowel disorders, and even cancer. So what can we do to fight it?
One of the greatest sources of chronic inflammation today is the Standard American Diet—eating processed foods, too much sugar, lots of meat, etc. Luckily, our diets are one of the easiest things we can fix. Opting for inflammation-fighting foods can help your body fight disease, and all it takes is a trip to the grocery store.
Berries like blueberries, strawberries, and cherries are inflammation-fighting machines. With their high flavonoid content (a type of antioxidant), they combat the oxidative stress that can cause inflammation. In fact, 2011 study found that ingesting blueberries after exercise increased the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines. To maximize berries’ healing properties, opt for eating them raw as cooking can destroy certain antioxidants.
Recipe to try: Kale & Berry Breakfast Bowl
2. Leafy greens:
Leafy greens such as kale or spinach are packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients that help counteract inflammation, like vitamin A and vitamin C. They’re also high in vitamin K, which has been shown to suppress inflammatory response in certain studies. Greens are great to eat whole but can also be juiced or blended into smoothies.
Recipe to try: Green Smoothie
Prized for their ruby-red color, beets contain betaine, an amino acid that is associated with a lower concentration of inflammatory markers. In addition, they’re a great source of potassium and magnesium, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. Beets can be eaten raw or cooked but are delicious when juiced.
Recipe to try: Inflammation-Busting Beet Juice
Known for its many health benefits, turmeric earns a rightful place on the list of inflammation-fighting foods. Unsurprisingly, it’s another antioxidant at work here—curcumin, which also gives turmeric its yellow color, has been shown in study after study to combat inflammation. While it’s most popular in powdered form, opt for fresh turmeric for maximum benefits.
Recipe to try: Turmeric-Infused Coconut Oil
5. Green tea:
Green tea is one of the most potent sources of antioxidants, giving it anti-inflammatory super powers. Many studies have shown that green tea can help reduce the risk of heart disease—the No. 1 killer of Americans—because of its therapeutic, inflammation-fighting properties. Most recommend two to three cups of green tea per day to feel its benefits.
Recipe to try: Honeydew Green Tea Popsicles
6. Chia seeds:
Thanks to their high content of Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA), chia seeds help mitigate inflammation while providing protein and healthy fats, making them a nutritional powerhouse. They’re also a great source of antioxidants, giving them dual inflammation-fighting power. Chia seeds are great in smoothies and salads and make a delicious Jell-O-like pudding.
Recipe to try: Chia Pudding
Pineapples contain bromelain, a digestive enzyme that’s been shown to have immunomodulating properties. By helping to regulate immune response, bromelain can reduce inflammatory activity. As with most fruits and veggies, opt for raw to preserve pineapple’s antioxidants and phytonutrients.
Recipe to try: Pineapple Sunshine Smoothie