When left untreated, inflammation can become a very debilitating condition, especially if it’s chronic inflammation. While certain medications quickly and effectively reduce inflammation, they may come with side effects and usage limits that prevent long-term use. Instead, try changing your diet and lifestyle to reliably manage inflammation, particularly if you’re dealing with recurring swelling, pain, or immobility in a specific area due to an injury or illness. Fortunately, nature has equipped us with plenty of nutritious foods that help our immune systems properly regulate inflammatory processes. Try incorporating these top anti-inflammatory foods into your diet to reduce the likelihood of future flare-ups and expedite the healing process during bouts of inflammation:
1. Celery Juice
Short and intermittent celery juice fasts have been shown to reduce inflammation by starving bacteria and other pathogens which could be burdening your body’s immune response. If drinking celery juice isn’t your cup of tea, you can try it in powdered form, like this Basik Nutrition’s Refresh celery juice powder. Because the powder can be mixed into any drink, shake, or smoothie, you may find this as a more convenient and flexible approach for an anti-inflammatory boost.
2. Cucumber Juice
Like celery juice, cucumber juice can be used as the basis for a powerful anti-inflammatory drink. Blending other ingredients on this list with cucumber juice can provide an effective tonic that protects you from inflammation. This vegetable’s anti-inflammatory properties come from the phytonutrients it contains, namely flavonoids, triterpenes, and lignans, which are also potent antioxidants.
Fish, including salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, and anchovies, are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, proven to help lubricate joints and fight inflammation. When consumed, these fatty acids metabolize into compounds called protectins and resolvins, which serve to protect you from inflammation and resolve current flare-ups. Clinical studies have shown that people who regularly consume salmon have lower C-reactive protein inflammatory markers. Because fish are abundant protein sources, they can promote the growth of lean muscle without causing undesirable weight gain, unlike red meat.
Turmeric contains a potent anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin, known for its anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogenic properties. Furthermore, curcumin shows promising potential for reducing the development of heart disease because it lowers levels of bad cholesterol and promotes enhanced circulation. While not the tastiest concoction in the world, sprinkling some black pepper into a turmeric tea creates a powerful tonic. The compound piperine found in black pepper increases the absorption of curcumin by 2000%.
Carrots are rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene, both of which help prevent rheumatoid arthritis and reduce inflammation markers. While many other vegetables are more nutritious when served raw, cooking carrots actually increases the bioavailability of their nutrients. That’s great news because eating raw carrots can be difficult for many people with dental issues. In addition, blended or juiced carrots can make a tasty foundation for an effective anti-inflammatory drink or shake.
Berries contain potent antioxidants known as anthocyanins. Anthocyanins can improve immunity, reduce inflammation, fight cancer, and reduce the risk of developing heart disease. However, some berries remain on the dirty dozen list, meaning they’re one of the top 12 most pesticide-laden foods. Thus, it’s best to search for organic and/or locally grown berries. If you do buy commercially grown berries from the grocery store, be sure to give them a good pesticide wash.
The cruciferous vegetable broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane, an antioxidant that reduces inflammation by lowering levels of inflammatory markers like NF-kB and cytokines. Perhaps best renowned for being one of the most densely nutritious foods at the grocery store, broccoli is a welcome addition to any diet. The fact that they’re high in fiber also means they promote regular bowel movements and better digestion.
Avocados are loaded with the healthiest monounsaturated fats you can eat. Plus, they contain potassium, magnesium, and fiber. They also consist of polyphenols – antioxidants with proven anti-inflammatory properties. Avocados are such potent anti-inflammatory foods that one study even showed that participants who consumed hamburgers with avocado had lower inflammatory markers than others who consumed hamburgers without avocados.
Edible mushrooms like portabello, shiitake, and truffles are rich in trace minerals and nutrients like copper, selenium, and B vitamins. Their anti-inflammatory effect comes from their high concentration of phenols and other potent anti-oxidants.
Other lesser-known mushroom varieties, like chaga, lion’s mane, reishi, and turkey tail have significant overall health benefits of their own. For example, lion’s mane promotes the production of nerve growth factor (NGF) and surrounding myelin. This provides positive cognitive benefits for clearer thinking and enhanced focus.
Bell peppers, rich in vitamin C and an antioxidant called quercetin, have proven to reduce an important inflammation marker in people who suffer from sarcoidosis. Chili peppers contain ferulic acid and sinapic acid, both of which reduce inflammation and slow the effects of aging. Chili peppers also contain capsaicin, a compound that improves circulation and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Top Anti-Inflammatory Foods and Long-Term Diet Changes
If you only sustain your commitment to healthy eating for brief periods before relapsing into the Standard American Diet (SAD), you probably won’t see the best results. If, on the other hand, you maintain a consistently healthy diet regimen for a period of two or more consecutive weeks, you should really start to notice a profound improvement in your wellbeing.
The best anti-inflammatory diet includes fruits and vegetables. However, when you’re dealing with a persistent case of inflammation due to repetitive stress injuries, arthritis, or another medical condition, your body probably won’t heal and rejuvenate overnight. Ultimately, temporary diet changes will only lead to temporary improvement. However, knowing these top anti-inflammatory foods can only help you in the long-run.
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