In one sense, inflammation is a useful tool of the body to combat infection and injury, but it can also lead to chronic issues and disease if left unencumbered. Inflammation is a sensitive defense mechanism that can be triggered in a number of ways: stress, a sedentary lifestyle, and even food. That’s right, diet can trigger the protective process, essentially misfiring the system and creating problems. Thankfully, there are several foods that can combat inflammation.
While not most peoples’ favorite food, mushrooms are among the best anti-inflammatory foods in existence. Its low-calorie count and nutrient-dense makeup help mushrooms take the number one spot for inflammation combatting foods. While mushrooms grow everywhere and include a diverse collection of species, edible mushrooms make up a small percentage of that whole. Only a few mushrooms are produced commercially, and the bulk of those include truffles, shitake, and portobello.
Some of the most powerful fruits in the war against inflammation are berries. While berries are high in fiber, minerals, and vitamins, they also contain the antioxidant anthocyanin that also reduces the risk of disease. Additionally, a study on the effects of daily blueberry consumption in men found that the fruit aided in the production of natural killer cells that promote healthy immune function. The regular consumption of strawberries showed a reduction in markers associated with heart disease in adults.
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3. Fatty Fish
While all fish contain some level of omega-3 fatty acids, fatty fish contain long-chain omega-3s specific to combatting inflammation: EPA and DHA. The fatty fish considered the best sources of these omega-3s includes:
The fatty acids in these fish lead to a reduction in heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome risks.
While most peppers are beneficial in moderation, chili peppers and bell peppers show particular promise in anti-inflammatory properties. Chili peppers can reduce inflammation and possibly lead to healthier aging because they contain ferulic and sinapic acid. Bell peppers can reduce oxidative damage in sarcoidosis patients because of the antioxidant quercetin. While these specific compounds lead to some anti-inflammatory effects, both chili and bell peppers have multiple antioxidants contributing to their abilities.
Grapes are not only delicious, but they can also reduce the risks of Alzheimer’s, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and eye disorders. One of the contributing compounds to grapes’ effects is resveratrol. Researchers have found that people consuming grapes routinely experienced decreased inflammatory gene markers and an increase in adiponectin levels. Low levels of adiponectin can lead to weight gain and an increased risk of cancer.
Turmeric is a source of curcumin and other anti-inflammatory compounds. Several studies suggest that consuming turmeric can lead to a reduction in inflammation related to several chronic conditions, including diabetes and arthritis. However, the most beneficial anti-inflammatory found in the spice, curcumin, might require the addition of a supplement into your diet because it would be hard to gain an effective dose through turmeric alone.
What are some other foods that can help combat inflammation and disease? While this list is a good start, it is not exhaustive. If you know of any other foods, spices, or drinks, leave a comment below and continue the conversation.