We toss the word inflammation around quite a bit, so much so that most of us tend to think we're all inflamed, that it’s perfectly normal and that there’s nothing that can be done about it. But inflammation is a pretty serious sign that something's gone haywire in your body. While the occasional inflammatory response is normal and healthy, chronic inflammation is the root cause of many serious ailments, including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, obesity and gastrointestinal disorders.
Inflammation is a sign that your body is craving attention and, you guessed it, nourishment! Switching from the Standard American Diet (SAD) to an anti-inflammatory, whole-foods, plant-based regimen will help reduce inflammatory markers and support a healthy body. Many of the foods you’ve been making into smoothies already fit this category, but here are ten additional anti-inflammatory options to help you along.
Enzymes are powerful in helping shut down the markers that are triggered when we have an inflammatory response. When foods are properly broken down before absorption into the bloodstream, they're also less likely to cause the pain and discomfort associated with inflammation.
These two foods contain two very specific enzymes known to combat inflammation. Pineapple is rich in the digestive enzyme bromelain, while papaya is known for its inflammation-fighting digestive protein papain.
Research shows tart cherries help reduce the likelihood of experiencing a gout attack, a condition where recurrent episodes of inflammatory arthritis attack the big toe, the most commonly affected area. Cherries may also help improve recovery following strenuous exercise by reducing inflammatory markers and oxidative muscle damage.
Rich in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, such as flavanols, flavonols, anthocyanins and ellagic acid, berries also contain a natural compound shown to potentially inhibit tumor growth. They top the list of antioxidant-rich foods, which help fight oxidative damage (most often the cause of inflammation in the body) by turning off the inflammation signals triggered by cytokines and COX-2s.
Cranberries are most noted for preventing urinary tract infections.
5. Green Tea
Green tea is a major source of the catechin epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which contains potent free-radical scavenging ability. It may also help halt arthritis development and progression by blocking Interleukin-1, a pro-inflammatory cell, from damaging cartilage.
In a 2005 study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers discovered that epicatechin and other flavanols found in cacao proved to be effective at inhibiting the action of leukotrienes. Leukotrienes are inflammatory messengers that can be helpful in normal levels but are also known to be a key contributor to inflammation-related conditions when produced in excess.
The flavonoids found in cacao are also inhibitors of cyclooxygenase (COX-I), which contributes to inflammation.
Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to blunt inflammatory markers in disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, heart disease, diabetes, skin disorders and cognitive decline, among others.
Flax and chia seeds are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, they are filled with fiber, promoting bowel regularity and reduced risk of inflammatory bowel disorders.
Researchers found that the addition of avocado or its oil increased the absorption of carotenoids, beneficial antioxidants, by anywhere from 700 to 1700 percent. These carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, lutein, alpha-carotene, and zeaxanthin, function as important antioxidants to fight inflammation, strengthen the immune system, and protect the body against free radical damage.
Avocados are an excellent source of healthy fats, including monounsaturated fat and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid.
Turmeric contains active ingredient curcumin, a potent antioxidant, liver detoxifier, and anti-inflammatory. Curcumin has been shown to produce the same anti-inflammatory effects of the drug ibuprofen, without the side effects.
Ginger contains the appropriately-named compounds gingerols. These substances are believed to contribute to their anti-inflammatory magic!
Ginger is not only used as a potent anti-inflammatory root, it is also a carminative, a substance that helps reduce the formation of intestinal gas.