Most of us have searched for the “diet” that will help us age with grace, prevent disease, lose weight, and optimize our overall health and wellness. But there could be a hidden problem that we are not addressing. A problem that could be causing whatever it is we are trying to fix. I'm talking about something that naturally occurs in our body -- a part of our body’s immune response. When managed, we live in comfort -- moving easily without pain, stiffness, redness, and swelling. Sometimes it comes and goes, and for other’s it’s a chronic condition.
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Inflammation is now a part of mainstream conversation when it comes to certain disease states, and learning how to naturally manage it can be life changing. In fact, if you do an Amazon search using the keywords “anti-inflammatory” in books, you will find more than 1,400 titles. The most natural remedy can, of course, come from our diets. As Hippocrates says: "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." With a healthy diet and lifestyle, you can begin to remedy or offset the burden placed on your body and allow it to start healing more efficiently, increasing your body’s immunity and preventing diseases such as obesity, heart problems, cancer, and other degenerative issues.
Below are 12 foods that are so easy to incorporate into your everyday meals that it will be a delight to eat well for your body!
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Turmeric contains curcumin, a strong anti-inflammatory compound that has been shown to inhibit a number of pro-inflammatory compounds in clinical studies. Recent studies have shown that it has similar effects to over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs. Its use in the treatment for diseases such as irritable bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as its role in reducing the risk of diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, is being investigated.
Try it: Turmeric and Lemon Tea
Why I love it: It's a great way to start your morning or end your day!
Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which inhibit a pro-inflammatory enzyme called COX. Omega-3 fatty acids also counter the pro-inflammatory effects of omega-6 fatty acids, which are often overconsumed in American diets.
Try it: Grilled Salmon with Citrus Sauce
Why I love it: It is perfect for your next barbecue and pairs well with grilled vegetable kebabs.
Walnuts are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids (specifically for vegetarians). Additionally, they contain numerous polyphenols that act as antioxidants to fend off oxidative damage.
Why I love it: This dish is the perfect side with any protein! The sweetness of the grapes is perfect with the nutty flavors of the walnuts and Brussel sprouts.
A key compound in ginger called gingerol suppresses pro-inflammatory compounds including cytokines and chemokines, as well as pro-oxidative agents that lead to systemic stress.
Try it: Carrot Ginger Soup
Why I love it: It's a double dose of goodness!
Green tea is rich in a polyphenol called EGCG; research suggests that this compound inhibits pro-inflammatory pathways. Green tea has been investigated for its therapeutic use in cancers, irritable bowel disease, and diabetes.
Why I love it: Sure, you can enjoy all the benefits of green tea straight from the tea bag or leaf. Or you can incorporate it into your cooking (like this recipe) and actually soak your brown rice in green tea. Not only does it soak up all the nutrients, the tea gives the dish a delicate, earthy taste.
Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens like kale, collard greens, and spinach contain a host of anti-inflammatory compounds, including vitamins C and E and antioxidants, that curb inflammatory processes.
Why I love it: I love quesadillas in general! I think they are perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner; and with the addition of the white beans as your protein source, you bump up the fiber!
Onions have several anti-inflammatory compounds, including quercetin, that inhibits pro-inflammatory activity and exert antioxidant effects.Whether you are topping your burgers with grilled onions, making a stir-fry or chopping them up into a salad, you will be sure to enjoy the taste as well as the health benefits.
Try it: Greek Salad
Why I love it: The combination of fresh vegetables with a good, strong, thinly sliced red onion is a match made in heaven and a personal favorite of mine.
Garlic comes from the same allium family as onions. It contains a number of anti-inflammatory compounds, including allicin, that inhibit pro-inflammatory messengers. Along with antioxidants, it has been shown to limit the progression of atherosclerosis and to promote heart health.
Try it: Roasted Garlic Hummus
Why I love it: Hummus is a great way to incorporate garlic! It pairs well with fresh vegetables or even homemade crackers.
Anthocyanins impart vibrant red, blue, and purple colors to berries, but they’re also useful for their strong anti-inflammatory properties. Anthocyanins have been shown to reduce the activity of a compound responsible for initiating a wide array of pro-inflammatory processes. In addition, as antioxidants, they limit oxidative stress.
Try it: Berry Granola Parfait Pops
Why I love it: Berries make a great snack, and this frozen treat will delight your guests and your taste buds! #Gorgeousness
Cruciferous Vegetables (Like Broccoli)
Cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolates, which are studied for their ability to block a pro-inflammatory transcription factor. They also contain vitamin K, which regulates the immune and inflammatory response, as well as omega-3 fatty acids.
Why I love it: Brocolli, spinach, and avocado! Can anyone say, “green goodness!” This recipe is perfect as a light meal or snack. You get both crunch as well as soft textures to make this an enjoyable eating experience.
Flaxseeds contains ALA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid that helps protect against cardiovascular inflammation. They’re also rich in lignans, a polyphenol that inhibits the formation of platelet-activating factor (PAF), a risk factor for inflammation.
Why I love it: Baking is a great way to incorporate flaxseeds. In this recipe, you are also sneaking in zucchini. My son loves these muffins -- "kid tested, mother approved!"
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
The consumption of olive oil is correlated with a reduced amount of inflammatory markers in the blood. At least nine different polyphenols work to limit inflammation in the body through various mechanisms, including decreasing the production of pro-inflammatory messenger molecules. Olive oil is a staple in most households as it makes a perfect base for a vinaigrette, and can be used when cooking or baking. I love dipping warm bread into olive oil instead of using butter. You can also infuse flavor into most oils.
Try it: Herb-Infused Olive Oil
Why I love it: This recipe is super simple and includes rosemary, which also has anti-inflammatory properties!
Try this delicious, healthy recipe!