Top 10 Anti-inflammatory foods
Costco doesn’t stock millions of dollars in glucosamine chondroitin for nothing.
The inflammatory industry’s top brass are literally swimming in cash from the American quick fix mentality. Do I blame them?
Rather than educate ourselves in a holistic methodology, where our lifestyle behaviors are recognized as the prime factors that shape our physical pain or pleasure, the American majority chooses to eat pills. Lots and lots of pills.
The time has come to put down the bottle and seek out the root cause.
As we get into the later years where Jeopardy suddenly becomes exciting and every new song we hear sounds like bathtubs falling down the stairs, our bodies have an innate ability to tell us if we’ve led a healthy life up to that point.
Make no mistake, the foods we consume every day in the decades before symptomatic arthritis and inflammation ever occur are your greatest defense shield against them ever existing at all. If getting up in the morning makes you groan with stiffness and your skin doesn’t feel like the tight, vital and healthy coverage it used to be, you may have a case of dietary inflammation!
A lot of anti-inflammatory drugs in the pharmaceutical market claim to take away aches and pains all the while promoting “healthy joints.” This is simply just a case of instant gratification with minimal effort; in other words it’s the easy way out. A great analogy of pharmaceuticals would be like putting a band-aid on a gun shot wound. It may take away the symptom for a while, but when it comes to the root cause, it’s literally what you are putting in your mouth! Long-term application of some of the major anti-inflammatory meds such as NSAIDs can actually weaken our immune system and cause extremely negative side effects.
Look no further than nature for the cure! The world has provided us with a bounty of anti-inflammatory foods that have no negative side effects. Did I mention they taste pretty good too? In addition to their abilities to reduce inflammation, they also provide a generous amount of vitamins and minerals to help fuel our body in it’s natural and self-improving state. It is a fact that our bodies are the most advanced machine on this planet. There are still thousands of biological processes in our endocrine system, for example, that scientists are still baffled by.
With our current knowledge that the body is the very best, when it comes to healing itself, it is only logical that we would use natural based or whole food supplements to provide our immune systems with the boost they need to fight inflammation. Bodies function best with natural and unprocessed enzymes.
The joints, knees, lower back pain and stiff legs of the country swallow down literally millions of pills every week as a magical answer for the ills that plauge thier day. But are these pills really made of nutrients that decrease inflammation and do they actually work?
The jury is out and the answer is NO. (depending on who you ask but I got my research from the mayo clinic) Inflammatory pain effects millions of Americans every year. It has become one of the largest supplement industry cash cows in the country. But what is most alarming is why no one is focusing on the actual CAUSE of the pain, rather than just the symptom. In this article, I’ll help you get rid of your pain by using whole, natural foods and spices. Let’s roll-
Is an Asian spice usually found in mixed curry powder and some Indian dishes. It contains a powerful, natural and non-toxic compound called curcumin. Recent studies have found that turmeric’s natural anti-inflammatory benefits are equal to hydrocortisone and Motrin, but without their undesired side effects.
Antonym- Sugar. It can hardly be called a “spice”, but the worldwide use of sugar challenges the effects of any spice. Sugar has led to a host of illnesses linked to the over consumption of this high glycemic load. A diet high in sugar will directly cause inflammation in the bod. With it’s removal, will be an overall relief of pain.
2. Wild Alaskan Salmon
Salmon is an excellent source of eicosapentaenoic acids and docosahexaenoic acids, two potent omega-3 fatty acids that positively impact inflammation. The benefits of omega-3 have been approved by numerous studies and range from preventing CHD and cancer, to combating autoimmune diseases. Including some sardines or mackerel in your diet twice a week can aid in the fight against inflammation as well. If fish is not your prime selection of food however, you can also get omega-3 from high-quality supplement companies such as Carlson.
Antonym- Polyunsaturated vegetable oils. Polyunsaturated oils are found in safflowers, soybeans, corn and sunflowers. Polyunsaturated fats have an unstable nature when subjected to the corrosive factor of oxygen. High consumption of omega-6 fatty acids, present in higher amounts of polyunsaturated oil, has been associated to inflammatory response in the body which can lead to CHD and cancer. While omega-6 in the correct amount is important to health, the goal is to balance your omega-6 and omega-3 ratios with a lean toward more omega-3’s.
3. Green Tea
The flavonoids in green tea are a strong natural anti-inflammatory that have been shown in multiple studies to reduce the risk of CHD and cancer.
Antonym- Processed cow’s milk and non-organic milk carry antibiotics and growth hormone residues that inflame tissues and irritate the immune system when consumed over the course of a year or more. Many people with Lactose Intolerance cannot digest milk properly, causing a major disruption in the digestive tract.
A large source of antioxidants, blueberry is high in phytonutrients that reduce anti-inflammatory damage against diseases such as cancer and dementia.
Antonym- Any fruit sprayed with herbicide, pesticide an/or fungicides. Insects and fungi enjoy berries and are attracted to their high sugar content. Berries, of non-organic nature, are sprayed with pesticides and these chemicals are very hard, if possible at all, to wash away due to the berry’s smaller size. Go organic or wild only to reduce toxicity!
For the correct metabolic type, as in all nutrients, broccoli can be very nutritious. It contains anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer phytonutrients such as sulforaphane, which help the body to release selected carcinogenic compounds.
Antonym- Nightshades! Fort many people, these vegetables can cause inflammation. Tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants and others are classed in the group of nightshades, which contain a high alkaloid value (excessive alkaloids may affect joint health, nerve-muscle function and digestion).
6. Sweet Potato
Sweet potato is a good source of complex carbohydrate, beta-carotene, manganese, vitamin B6 and C as well as dietary fiber. Working together, these nutrients are powerful antioxidants that help to reverse inflammation in the body.
Antonym- Processed, non-organic potatoes. Although potato is a good source of vitamin C, all fried potato chips and french fries aren’t. Commercially sprayed processed potatoes are prepared in overheated polyunsaturated or hydrogenated oils, as we have discussed, and are packed with high amounts of sugar and salt to boot. These factors increase the risk of CHD, cancer and diabetes.
Extra Virgin olive oil is tasty! It has a rich supply of polyphenols that protect the heart and blood vessels from inflammation. The monounsaturated fats in olive oil are converted into anti-inflammatory agents and can lessen the occurrences of asthma and certain arthritis.
Antonym- Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. This processed, heat treated commercial oil contains trans-fatty acids that lower HDL cholesterol and raise LDL— a sure sign you are well on your way to contracting CHD.
Kelps like kombu contain fucoidan, a type of complex carbohydrate that yields high anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and anti-oxidative properties. Studies on fucoidan helps to control liver and lung cancer as well as promoting collagen synthesis. The high fiber content also helps to induce fullness, slow fat absorption and promote weight health. Use only organic kelps harvested from unpolluted seas.
Antonym- Seaweed snacks. Power blow dried and sugary. Go easy on seaweed snacks- they are heavily salted and coated with vegetable oils and sugars.
Papaya contains papain, a protein-digesting enzyme. In combination with other nutrients like vitamin C and E, papain helps to reduce inflammation, and improves digestion.
Antonym- Processed, sulfured and preservative packed fruits. Dried papaya fruits usually contain high levels of the chemical sulphur dioxide, a preservative that has been linked to increased respiratory disease. Eat organic fresh fruits when possible!
Raw! The parts of coconut we digest are from the seed of the coconut fruit. Coconut is suggested for its anti-microbial, anti-viral, anti-bacteria effects, and medium fatty acid chains that help to prevent high cholesterol and CHD. Coconut oil is one of the healthiest food oils that don’t burn when used at high heat. Great for your skin as well; apply liberally on dry days!
Antonym- Processed, sugared and HCFS sweetened or heat dried versions of coconut destroy the living cells and nutrient density in coconuts, eliminating the benefits of the most amazing fruit on the planet. Coconut water should be on your list as well; it is made from angel tears. (metaphor for amazing)
The truth tastes good, so remember, you are what you eat!
About the author: Josh Trent, NASM-CES, CPT, HLC, is a corrective exercise specialist and participatory sports technology expert with over 9 years in the fitness industry. His passion is to accelerate wellness evolution through the power of the Digital Health and Quantified Self movements. You can follow him on Twitter @wellnessforce, or through his website www.wellnessforce.com.