Inflammation has received a lot of bad press lately and for very good reason. Inflammation may be a good thing in some cases and even a sign that your body is successfully fighting an infection… but when it is allowed to persist it can also cause a wealth of problems.
Inflammation is one of the body’s acute responses to an infection by bacteria or a virus. It also occurs in response to an injury. Its aim is to protect the area, to rush important nutrients to it and to stem the movement of invading pathogens.
The problem is that a great many things can cause inflammation and in some case, this results in ‘chronic’ inflammation. Meaning in other words that the inflammation isn’t going to go away once the healing is over and you’re going to be stuck with it.
At this point, inflammation can actually be a bad thing and can start to cause pain and discomfort, even potentially leading to tissue damage. This is the case in some forms of arthritis and other inflammation-related disorders.
But moreover, inflammation can also damage our cells and make us more likely to get ill. And through the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, it can actually impair our cognitive functioning and leave us confused and foggy.
Think back to the last time that you were ill. Perhaps you remember that you didn’t just feel ill but were also generally sluggish. Maybe you couldn’t hold your attention on anything for very long and you struggled to watch TV and read books. Maybe you got cabin fever. Perhaps you just felt depressed.
This is caused by inflammation. And if chronic inflammation is allowed to go on then it can prevent you from functioning at your mental best while at the same time increasing your risk of developing a number of health conditions. Chronic inflammation has even been linked with depression.
So, what can you do to prevent this? Whether you suspect that inflammation is making you feel groggy, or whether you’re struggling with pain and discomfort in your joints, this post is going to examine your options and hopefully help you to find a solution to your pain and discomfort – by changing your diet. Read on for 20 foods that are naturally anti-inflammatory.
1. Coconut Water
Coconut water is incredibly good for you and has a number of amazing effects in the body. The main benefits of coconut water come from the simple fact that it offers the perfect balance of electrolytes. Electrolytes include the likes of sodium, potassium and calcium and are among the things that our muscles and nerves use in order to communicate.
When you drink coconut water, it can help to improve that communication and this boosts your energy. At the same time, it also helps to encourage and enhance the body’s natural self-repair functions and thereby prevents inflammation!
Blueberries are among the powerful sources of antioxidants in the world. They contain a huge amount of vitamin C among many other very important micronutrients.
It’s no surprise then that blueberries have been shown in studies to do everything from booting cognitive function and performance on tests, to enhancing the mood and combating cancer!
Blueberries are very low on the glycemic index too, which means that they won’t hit you with a large number of carbohydrates and spike the blood sugar. This is important seeing as inflammation is actually made a lot worse if you consume large amounts of simple carbs.
This list is focussed on what you can eat in order to prevent and combat inflammation but remember this is as much about what you avoid eating as what you seek out!
Yogurt is on this list because it is a source of natural, healthy pro-biotics. When you think of bacteria, you may be forgiven for assuming that it is always going to be unhealthy and bad for you. As it happens though, bacteria can be good or bad and in fact the good kind is very important for our health.
Good bacteria sits in the stomach and helps to kill off bad bacteria, it helps to breakdown our food and it helps to produce important hormones and neurotransmitters. All these things can effectively prevent inflammation, making this a great choice if you want to improve your overall health.
Pineapple is another excellent place to get your helping of antioxidants and vitamin C. On top of that though, it’s also high in electrolytes like magnesium – all things that we’ve already covered and know are very good for our health!
But what makes pineapple especially interesting is the content of bromelain. This is a digestive enzyme that helps to break down food in the mouth and at the same time helps with digestion once food reaches the stomach.
Poor digestion and poor absorption of nutrients are just two causes of inflammation and so it follows that pineapple can be a great choice for combating this!
Tuna fish is a fantastic option if you want to combat inflammation. The reason for this is that it is high in a substance called omega 3 fatty acid, which you have no doubt heard of before.
The big benefit with omega 3 fatty acid is that it helps to improve your ratio of omega 3 to omega 6. Both these fatty acids are important and necessary but most of us have far too much 6 and not enough 3. This is simply due to the fact that the modern diet contains much more 6 – it is added to preservatives. And the twist? Too much 6:3 will result in inflammation.
When you eat tuna, you can help to readdress this balance and it makes a big difference to how you feel and perform!
Another excellent source of omega 3 fatty acid is salmon. This will once again help you to improve your 3:6 ratio.
But there’s another benefit of omega 3 that I haven’t touched on yet: cell membrane permeability. In short, when you consume omega 3, the body uses it to form cells. This replaces other fats that might have been used and in doing so, it helps to make the cells more fluid and less easily damaged. That in turn means less inflammation and it means greater performance!
Of course any oily fish will also provide an excellent source of lean protein.
Honey is fantastic for a wide range of reasons and is high on a whole ton of different lists when it comes to health foods.
Among its many benefits, honey may help to combat allergies. This is very useful for us, seeing as allergies are one of the number one causes of inflammation.
The reason for this is that honey when sources locally can contain trace amounts pollen. This in turn enables the body to use it as a kind of vaccine and to adjust to that substance in the body.
Honey is also high in good sugars, naturally soothing and may help sleep.
Celery is very high in vitamin C along with beta-carotene and manganese. More excitingly though, it’s also a great source of phytonutrients which are very important and can do a host of good things for the body.
We’re still learning new exciting things about phytonutrients all the time. But what we know is that they’re among the most powerful agents in combating inflammation. Seeing as celery is also a great way to hydrate and to get plenty of fiber – and it is incredibly low in calories – there’s no reason not to dip in!
One of the most important ways you can avoid inflammation is simply to remain as well hydrated as possible. This is something that a lot of us simply don’t do – too many people fail to realize the importance of hydration and the folly of not being properly hydrated.
Water is needed for practically every function in the human body and as such, it is critical that you consume it in the right amounts. If you do not, then you will create harmful by-products and you’ll even experience serious headaches as the brain shrinks due to a loss of fluid. If your mouth is dry and you’re feeling sluggish, then start drinking more water fast.
10. Bok Choy
Bok choy tastes great in stir fry and does our health a world of good. This goes excellently if you want to stir in some strips of beef and some soy sauce. Not only are bok choy low calorie and a great source of vitamin C, but they’re also very high in omega 3 and zinc.
Now, you know all about omega 3 at this point. But what about that zinc? Well, turns out that zinc is a chain breaking substance that can perfectly combat free radicals. Free radicals attack the cells and they cause cellular damage, mutation and inflammation. So more bok choy!