The jig is up…inflammation is the root of most diseases, and that makes anti-inflammatory nutrition more important than ever.
Unfortunately, the modern Western diet is full of inflammatory foods.
It’s also low on inflammation-busters like celery and salmon.
Luckily, if you’re looking for up-to-date anti-inflammatory nutrition facts, you’ve come to the right place.
It’s time to fight inflammation and prevent disease with diet the anti-inflammatory way!
What Is Inflammation?
Inflammation is the redness, swelling, heat, and pain that occurs when your cells are injured or infected.
It also happens at a cellular level as white blood cells trigger the body’s protective processes.
The truth is that inflammation is healthy in small doses.
Without it, wounds would fester and infections might overrun the body.
However, too much inflammation can be equally destructive.
For example, chronic inflammation can increase the risk of anxiety, heart disease, and more…
How Inflammation Causes Disease
When inflammation runs amuck, it can attack healthy tissues and have long-term consequences.
For starters, chronic inflammation can trigger autoimmune disorders, like:
- Irritable bowel disease (IBD)
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Celiac disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
In fact, a 2014 study found that IBD patients who ate an anti-inflammatory diet experienced enough relief to stop taking at least one of their medications. (1)
But inflammation affects more than just IBD and other autoimmune conditions.
It’s also strongly linked to many types of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Plus, food sensitivities, headaches, and a variety of mental health issues often trace back to, you guessed it, inflammation.
Stress and Inflammation
Stress contributes to inflammation…BIG time.
For some people, no matter how perfect your anti-inflammatory diet is, chronic stress can still undermine your health.
The problem is that stress wreaks havoc on healthy gut bacteria.
Stress has also been linked to heart disease, and stress management can help speed recovery from heart attacks. (2)
Not only that, but stress also weakens the blood-brain barrier.
In other words, the brain loses the ability to protect itself from inflammatory toxins in the blood.
To make matters worse, a 2018 study found that high-stress hormone levels can literally shrink the brain! (3)
Fortunately, you can reduce stress and inflammation by strengthening the gut.
Anti-Inflammatory Nutrition Facts and Gut Health
What comes to mind when you think of bacteria?
Do you picture harmful invaders or friendly companions?
The truth is that when it comes to stress and inflammation, your gut bacteria are your friends.
Over the last few decades, scientists have begun to understand just how critical gut bacteria is.
The gut contains 10-100 billion bacterial cells, and they’re an essential part of… (4)
- Mental health
- Autoimmune conditions
- and more…
However, not all gut bacteria are your friends.
The “microbiome,” as it’s called, also contains harmful bacteria that can weaken the gut lining and promote obesity.
A weak gut lining allows inflammation to enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body.
Unfortunately, the modern Western diet is full of foods like sugar and processed vegetable oils that fuel bad bacteria.
However, by following the anti-inflammatory nutrition facts laid out in this article, you can strengthen the gut lining and reduce inflammation.
How to Reduce Inflammation with Anti-Inflammatory Nutrition
Believe it or not, not all doctors take gut health into consideration when treating inflammation.
So the question is, how do you fight inflammation on your own?
As you just learned, the gut is a great place to start, and food is the best medicine.
According to a study published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Immunology, roughly 70 percent of your immune cells are found in the digestive tract. (5)
Depending on your body chemistry, certain foods can have a powerful effect on inflammation.
However, at the same time, other foods might make inflammation worse.
It’s up to you to figure out which are which, and this article is here to help.
At the same time, research shows that many of us simply eat too much food in general:
According to a 2014 study, “Our overabundance 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.” (6)
So what’s the solution?
Switch to an anti-inflammatory diet!
For example, people in the Mediterranean region have significantly lower rates of heart disease and mental illness, as well as longer lifespans. (7)
Researchers believe that this is mostly due to their whole-food, anti-inflammatory diet.
Unlike Americans, they eat very few processed foods, plenty of veggies, and tons of omega-3s, which are incredible for reducing inflammation.
These foods also contain large amounts of critical nutrients, including:
- Amino acids
- Essential fatty acids
…and other anti-inflammatory compounds.
11 Top Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Ginger is a spice and root vegetable that fights inflammation and boosts the immune system.
Used fresh in juice, dried in dishes, or taken as supplements and extracts, ginger is able to quickly calm the inflammatory response.
Ayurvedic medicine has used ginger for thousands of years to eliminate toxins and heal the sick.
Plus, research shows that ginger can even treat inflammation related to digestion, allergies, and asthma. (8)
Turmeric is a spice and root vegetable of the same family as ginger.
Most importantly, it contains a potent anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin.
A 2014 rodent study found that “(Curcumin extract) significantly inhibited the production of inflammatory cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), interleukin-6 (IL-6), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), and C-reactive protein (CRP).” (9)
Ultimately, curcumin was able to reduce inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity in obese mice.
At the same time, a separate study found that curcumin can reduce inflammation better than aspirin (Bayer) and ibuprofen (Advil). (10)
Celery is a stalky vegetable that’s packed with antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins that reduce inflammation.
Together, these nutrients hydrate and heal the gut, improve cholesterol, and lower blood pressure.
A lot of celery’s value comes from the electrolytes it contains, such as:
A healthy balance of these minerals is critical for almost all of the body’s functions.
Potassium, for example, flushes toxins out of the cells, while sodium brings in fluid and nutrients.
Unfortunately, most processed foods are high in sodium but low in other electrolytes, leading to a dangerous imbalance.
As a result, the cells can become malnourished and toxic.
Did your mom ever tell you to eat your broccoli when you were a kid?
Growing up, broccoli is the poster vegetable for a healthy diet.
That’s because broccoli is an antioxidant powerhouse.
You’ll find key flavonoids, carotenoids, and vitamins galore! (11)
Plus, broccoli contains tons of minerals like potassium and magnesium.
Together, these nutrients treat chronic inflammation and reduce the risk of cancer.
But keep in mind that broccoli is more nutritious when cooked.
That’s because raw broccoli contains compounds called “anti-nutrients” that reduce absorption.
Luckily, cooking broccoli lightly can minimize the effects of anti-nutrients so that you get more anti-inflammatory compounds in each bite.
5. Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables like chard, kale, and spinach are always welcome additions to any anti-inflammatory diet.
To begin with, they’re high in master antioxidants like vitamin C and A.
These nutrients keep the brain in tip-top shape by protecting it from free radicals.
Chard, in particular, is loaded with vitamin K, which is important for preventing bone loss and excessive bleeding.
Can’t stand the taste of green leafy vegetables?
Try juicing them instead!
It’s a great way to get all the micronutrients without having to chew like a bunny rabbit.
However, the downside is that you’ll miss out on all the fiber, which is great for the gut.
For example, the fiber in spinach reduces intestinal inflammation and promotes healthy gut bacteria.
6. Bok Choy
Bok choy, also known as Chinese cabbage, is another excellent source of antioxidants.
In fact, it’s one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables on the planet!
Not only is it packed with micronutrients, but it can also prevent cancer and heart disease.
Bok choy’s secret lies in its ability to reduce inflammation.
For starters, it contains high levels of vitamin C, A and K, which are master antioxidants.
To top it all off, bok choy has phytonutrients, like:
- Phenolic compounds
These nutrients support almost every system in the body and also help with appetite control.
And unlike other similar foods like leafy greens, bok choy has a slightly sweet, pleasant taste.
So if you cringe at the thought of kale and collard greens, give bok choy a try!
Blueberries are low in sugar and packed with phytonutrients that reduce inflammation and fight cancer.
Plus, these berries are especially good for the brain as you age.
Blueberries contain several anti-inflammatory compounds, but the best one is called quercetin.
Quercetin is a flavonoid that’s found in most dark-colored berries, olive oil, and citrus fruits.
However, it’s especially concentrated in blueberries.
Even better, quercetin has been shown to reduce gut inflammation and improve irritable bowel disease (IBD). (12)
The scientists involved in these studies believe that blueberries heal the body by preventing oxidative stress.
Papaya is one of the most underrated foods for fighting inflammation and supporting the gut.
For starters, it’s low on sugar.
Even better, it’s the only source of papain, an enzyme that breaks down protein and improves digestion.
As a result, papaya can help people with IBD, constipation and other intestinal disorders.
For example, one recent study found that people who took a papaya-based medicine improved symptoms of constipation and bloating. (13)
At the same time, other studies have shown that papaya leaves and seeds can treat ulcers in both animals and humans. (14)
But papaya isn’t just a one-trick pony—in addition to papain, it also contains:
- C Vitamin
- A Vitamin
- K Vitamin
Plus, papaya has high levels of the flavonoids lutein and zeaxanthin.
Together with vitamin A, these nutrients help support eye health as you age.
9. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a powerful addition to any anti-inflammatory diet because it helps the body absorb other nutrients like curcumin.
However, coconut oil is also incredibly beneficial on its own…
For example, a 2014 animal study found that the compounds in virgin coconut oil can treat arthritis in rats. (15)
Also, oxidative stress is one of the main causes of osteoporosis, a degenerative bone disease.
Fortunately, coconut oil contains plenty of antioxidants to fight oxidative stress and is a leading natural treatment for bone health.
Plus, coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils to cook with.
Unlike other oils that oxidize at low temperatures, coconut oil stays stable at high temperatures.
As a result, it’s less likely to trigger inflammation in the body.
10. Salmon (and other wild-caught fish)
Salmon might be the ultimate fatty fish when it comes to reducing inflammation.
However, other wild-caught fish also contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, such as:
Omega-3s are one of the most important anti-inflammatory nutrients there are.
Believe it or not, omega-3s fight inflammation in the gut, joints, blood, brain, and nearly in every other nook and cranny of the body.
A recent study in the Journal of American College of Nutrition found that “Many of the placebo-controlled trials of fish oil in chronic inflammatory diseases reveal significant benefit, including decreased disease activity and a lowered use of anti-inflammatory drugs.” (16)
Plus, researchers also concluded that “Omega-3 fatty acids…might be useful in the management of coronary heart disease, major depression, aging, and cancer.”
With that said, the source of your fish is extremely important.
Farmed fish have a lot of dangers, including an increased risk of cancer.
To make matters worse, it doesn’t contain anywhere near the same levels of nutrients as wild-caught fish.
That’s why it’s important to eat high-quality fish that comes from natural food sources.
11. Bone Broth
Bone broth is made by slowly boiling the bone marrow and cartilage of animals like cows and chickens.
The broth that’s leftover is rich in easy-to-absorb minerals, such as:
Plus, bone broth also contains compounds like chondroitin and glucosamine, which treat arthritis and joint pain.
Most importantly, however, bone broth is brimming with collagen and amino acids like glycine and proline.
Together, these nutrients are a powerhouse for healing leaky gut and fighting inflammation throughout the body.
Inflammatory Foods to Avoid
As it turns out, avoiding inflammatory foods is just as important as eating the good ones.
If you dump tons of processed junk into your body, it doesn’t matter how much wild-caught salmon you eat, you’re still going to have issues with inflammation.
Here’s a list of the top inflammatory foods to avoid:
- Refined carbohydrates (bread, pasta)
- Gluten (wheat, rye, barley)
- Processed vegetable oils (canola, soybean, safflower)
Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for inflammatory compounds to sneak into your diet.
A prime suspect is the unhealthy vegetable oil that’s used in processed foods.
These promote inflammation and increase the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. (17)
Plus, processed foods tend to be high in omega-6 fatty acids.
Shockingly, the typical American diet contains up to 20 times more omega-6s than omega-3s, and this imbalance can cause severe inflammation. (18)
Another food group to watch out for is the nightshade family, which includes:
- Capsicum peppers
These foods contain the solanaceae alkaloid, which can trigger autoimmune reactions in some individuals.
However, for the most part, avoiding sugar, simple carbs, gluten, dairy, soy, alcohol, caffeine, and processed foods will help plenty.
How to Figure Out Which Foods are Triggering You
Do you have symptoms like chronic pain, low energy, headaches, and digestive issues?
Often times, inflammation can be to blame.
In this case, the best way to figure out which foods are causing inflammation is to do an elimination diet.
The first step is to remove all inflammatory foods and potential irritants from your diet.
After that, stick to your new bare-bones diet for roughly six weeks as your body heals.
Last but not least, reintroduce each food one at a time, and wait at least a week or two before re-introducing another food.
This way you’ll be able to see which foods trigger your symptoms.
With that said, even if you feel fine after eating a big bag of candy, it doesn’t mean that you should.
Certain foods, like sugar, have no place in a healthy diet.
If you have any more questions about anti-inflammatory nutrition facts, feel free to contact us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.