The food we eat has a big effect on how our body’s inflammatory system works. For example, foods high in carbohydrates have been seen to have an effect on raising the likelihood of chronic inflammation.
On the other hand, low-carb foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants are seen to do the direct opposite.
It becomes clear, then, that if we want to stay fit and healthy, making sure we avoid foods that increase the likelihood of suffering chronic inflammation must be one of our priorities.
Here’s a list of the 10 best anti-inflammatory foods to add to your diet and why we need them.
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Why Do We Need Anti-Inflammatory Foods?
To understand why consuming anti-inflammatory foods are a good idea, you first have to understand what inflammation is—when it is a good thing and when it is not.
The term inflammation refers to one of the body’s most important protective mechanisms. All through our lifetime, we come in contact with organisms and chemicals that pose a threat to the body—some of these threats are milder than others.
The body always responds to these by releasing several chemicals in a mechanism called inflammation. This means inflammation is an immune response to harm.
There are two kinds of inflammatory responses. An acute inflammatory response is a short-term and low-spread response. This is what is seen when we sustain cuts on our skins.
The body senses a compromise in vascular integrity and sends signals to cells around that area to initiate inflammation. It is these signals that make the area swell up a bit, so the repair cells can get to work and healing can take place. If this response is blocked, wound healing will be slow.
In contrast with acute inflammation, chronic inflammation is a widespread inflammatory response. It takes place over a longer period and is usually not pronounced.
One can suffer chronic inflammation for a while and not know it. It has been associated with diseases like heart disorders, stroke, hypertension, and anxiety.
Experts believe that chronic inflammation does not just exist on its own. There seem to be some factors that trigger and even sustain it, and one of those factors is our diet.
10 Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Here is a list of 10 anti-inflammatory foods you should have on your table as often as you can.
Fishes are a great source of protein, meaning they are great if you are trying to build some muscle. But that’s not all. They are also a storehouse of unsaturated fatty acids.
Unlike saturated fats, which cause a build-up of cholesterol on the walls of blood vessels, unsaturated fatty acids are healthy.
They are two kinds of unsaturated fats: monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.
Polyunsaturated fats are the ones stored in fish. High concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids, a kind of polyunsaturated fat, have been linked to lowering the risk of premature death. It has also been linked to reducing the risk of heart diseases, stroke, and inflammation.
Eat fish as often as you can. They’re an amazing meal for most kinds of lunch.
Again, another seafood. Shrimps are such a great idea because they contain quite low calories while managing to contain healthy amounts of protein, fat, minerals, and vitamins.
The fat contained in shrimp is also an omega-3 fatty acid, a polyunsaturated fat with powerful anti-inflammatory properties. The vitamins include vitamin B6 and vitamin E, which is great for the skin.
Some minerals contained in shrimps include zinc, a micronutrient that helps improve our immunity and helps our gut function better, and iodine, which is needed for the production of one of the most important hormones in the body: tyrosine. Without this mineral, we are at risk of developing thyroid disorders.
Nuts are a healthy choice of anti-inflammatory food. They are tasty and do not contain a lot of calories.
Instead, they contain polyunsaturated fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids contained in nuts have been linked to reducing inflammations that might cause arthritis. They also contain vitamin E, which helps keep the skin moist and healthy.
Nuts may also have an impact on weight loss because aside from the vitamins and nutrients, the fiber in nuts also helps us feel full for a while after we eat them.
Have you ever wondered why there is a saying that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Well, it’s because apples are one of the healthiest foods out there.
A whole apple contains almost every nutrient needed in a balanced diet: carbohydrates, vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber.
The anti-inflammatory effects of apples come from their high antioxidant content. Antioxidants are a class of compounds that function to mop out free radicals from the body.
Free radicals can cause oxidative stress since they are free compounds that can react quite easily with other body compounds. Therefore, mopping them out is effective in lowering the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other harmful kinds of inflammation.
A dietician will always tell his clients to stick to eating fruits when they are trying to consume anti-inflammatory foods. This is such great advice, as fruits are a great source of natural antioxidants.
Berries taste great, and at the same time, they contain vitamins and minerals, and fiber. Vitamin C helps the immune system function optimally. Fiber helps our lower gastrointestinal tract (GIT) function better—they make our stools heavier and easier to pass.
The fibers found in berries are soluble. They also have an effect on lowering our blood glucose levels as well as the level of cholesterol in our system.
Anthocyanins, a class of antioxidants found in berries, have strong anti-inflammatory properties. They help keep cells in good shape by mopping out free radicals.
Avocados are a rich source of many nutrients. A whole avocado contains a lot of potassium, magnesium, and fiber.
Potassium helps in regulating body functions like water balance, cell signaling, and also the contraction and relaxation of muscles. Magnesium is needed for maintaining blood pressure. Fibers in avocados make it easier to pass stools.
Carotenoids contained in avocado are powerful in reducing the risks of cancers. They help keep free radicals in the body low, reducing oxidative stress. They also stop the inflammation of new skin cells.
Include avocados in your meals as often as you can. Be creative. They can make a list of beautiful recipes.
Carrots are root vegetables containing vitamins, minerals, and fibers.
Pectin, a fiber contained in carrots, can lower blood sugar. It does this by slowing the digestion of sugars and starches. They also have an effect on lowering your cholesterol levels.
Carrots also contain a lot of carotenes. Our bodies convert this compound into vitamin A, which is great for our eyes. Without enough vitamin A, one is at risk of developing a condition called night blindness.
Vitamin K, also contained in carrots, is helpful during coagulation.
Eat carrots as often as you can. If possible, make juices out of them and have yourself a drink.
When it comes to almonds, you are sure to get a lot of healthy fatty acids, vitamin E, and the compound manganese. They also contain magnesium.
Eating almonds will help maintain your blood fatty acid levels. The healthy fatty acids contained in them will also reduce your risk of heart disease since they do not build up on the walls of arteries.
Compared to other anti-inflammatory foods, almonds contain more calories. This does not mean that they will destroy your weight loss goals. If you can stick to having just enough, you are fine.
A few almonds once in a while are great for you.
9. Olive Oil
Olive oil is part of one of the healthiest diet plans there is—the Mediterranean Diet. You should stick to this diet plan if you are down to eat just anti-inflammatory foods.
Olive oil contains a monosaturated fatty acid called oleic acid. This fatty acid helps lower the risk of chronic inflammation and can also lower the risk of cancer.
Olive oils also contain some vitamin E, making them an added advantage to your skin. Just like you would do the coconut oil, you can use olive oil on your skin to keep it aglow.
Oranges contain a rich amount of vitamin C, fiber, calcium, and potassium. As I’ve mentioned previously, fiber keeps the GIT healthy while lowering the concentrations of cholesterol in the body.
Vitamin C helps immune function and also helps maintain connective tissue and blood vessel integrity.
If you are not in for having whole oranges, you can have yourself some homemade orange juice. It tastes great and is great for you.
Anti-inflammatory foods must be our go-to foods, seeing that they are foods that are loaded with chemicals that mop out inflammatory proteins. They are a class of food that have a healthy concentration of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, and our bodies would benefit greatly from them.
However, be especially careful of seafood if you have a history of allergic reactions. Many people show sensitivity to seafood like shrimp and fish because they contain allergens.
Though, this shouldn’t discourage you since there are still eight other anti-inflammatory foods on this list that you can choose from.
Featured photo credit: Towfiqu barbhuiya via unsplash.com