Inflammation is more prevalent as we age, especially because of declining anti-oxidants. If we add foods that fight inflammation into our meals and include them with a balanced eating plan that includes a range of vegetables, fruits, proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats, it can contribute to overall health and cut down inflammation in the body.
Even hormonal imbalances can lead to inflammation. Hormonal imbalances are quite common in women throughout their life, including during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause. These hormonal changes can influence the inflammatory response.
For example, variations in estrogen and progesterone levels during the menstrual cycle can affect immune responses and potentially contribute to inflammation.
It’s important to remember this one simple fact: you are what you eat.
Too often, we forget this. I want you to think about a time when you ate something, and you felt bloated, tired, lazy, or had other pain. This is your body’s response to food. We ignore these signs because, let’s face it, some foods that are bad for us taste really good. Pizza, burgers, french fries, bagels, need I say more?
And while some foods can cause a negative response in our bodies, other foods can be very good for us.
Mother nature is good to us and provides us with tons of foods that fight inflammation and keep us healthy and strong. In case you aren’t sure what they are, here’s a good list.
Switching our diets isn’t easy. Start slowly and go easy on yourself. I always tell people to clean out all the bad food from their kitchen, and while you should do that, don’t deny yourself the odd treat every now and then too.
12 Must-Have Foods That Fight Inflammation
While there are only 12 foods that fight inflammation on this list, there are tons more. Check out this resource for more information.
A popular ingredient in traditional Indian medicines and cuisines, Turmeric contains the compound curcumin, which has strong anti-inflammatory effects. We can add turmeric powder or fresh turmeric root to curries, smoothies, golden milk, soups, stews, etc.
In recent years, Turmeric shots have become immensely popular, particularly in the West.
Another popular ingredient in Indian cuisines, ginger contains gingerol, a bioactive compound with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
There are so many ways to consume ginger: add ginger to curries, dressings, smoothies, and hot chocolate, or enjoy a cup of fresh ginger tea. Another option is to have a glass of ginger water every day to support your digestive system.
Packed with antioxidants, berries can help reduce inflammation. Try to obtain the variants which are available locally during the season. We can enjoy them in smoothies, salads, oatmeal, or as a healthy snack.
Some of the most easily accessible berries are blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Rich in vitamin C and fiber content, berries are good for our overall health too.
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as EPA and DHA, which have anti-inflammatory effects, fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, and anchovies help reduce inflammation and support heart health.
Some options to add more fish to your diet: grilled fish, salmon strips, or some Mediterranean baked fish.
One of the healthiest alternatives out there with various health benefits, leafy vegetables like kale, broccoli, and spinach are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that combat inflammation. We can add them to salads, stir-fries, or smoothies.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Oleocanthal, a compound with anti-inflammatory properties, is an integral part of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Try switching to extra virgin olive oil as a dressing or for light cooking.
It is typically advised to maintain an average daily amount of ~2 tablespoons per day to provide effective anti-inflammatory benefits.
Nuts and Seeds
Walnuts, raisins, almonds, chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds are some of the most common options. These nuts and seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber that fight inflammation. Add them to smoothies, oatmeal, salads, or yogurt. Another way to consume more nuts and seeds is to add ground variants to baked goods or consume nut-based butter such as almond butter.
Matcha green tea has recently grown in popularity as a healthy beverage alternative over coffee. Green tea typically contains a substance called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) which possesses anti-inflammatory properties. Replace usual sugary beverages with green tea for a refreshing and healthier option.
Filled with antioxidants, including flavanols, dark chocolate has been considered a superfood with anti-inflammatory effects and may improve heart health and mood. One can switch to dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa (70% or higher) and enjoy it in moderation.
Packed with probiotics and protein, Greek yogurt aids in gut health and helps counter inflammation. We can choose plain, unsweetened varieties and add them to our own oatmeal, smoothies, toppings, etc.
There are also yogurts made with sweeteners available in the market for all the folks with a sweet tooth out there.
Black pepper is loaded with the bioactive compound called piperine, which has anti-inflammatory perks. There are various ways to consume black pepper in everyday life: as a seasoning in salads, rolls, steak, vegetable soup, rice bowls, etc.
Tomatoes have been identified for their anti-inflammatory benefits. They consist of various compounds high in antioxidants that add to their anti-inflammatory results, especially lycopene and vitamin C. Most notably, Lycopene is an effective antioxidant that provides tomatoes with a vibrant red color.
Switching to a Healthy Anti-Inflammatory Diet
It seems as we get older, we get more health conscious, but it’s hard to switch to a healthier diet overnight. We’ve been eating poorly for most of our lives. Our bodies are used to this lifestyle. As is our brain.
I would suggest slowly start incorporating foods that fight inflammation and eliminate bad foods. For example, next time you have a sweet tooth, grab a bowl of berries instead of reaching for cookies.
It will also help you to clean out your kitchen of all bad foods.
While at the grocery store, instead of reaching for that bag of cookies or chips, how about skipping those aisles altogether and just heading straight for the foods that fight inflammation and are actually better for you?
It won’t be easy, but eventually, your body will crave all those healthy foods and shudder at the thought of pizza.
Keep a health journal
I think keeping a health journal is a great way to record the changes your body will be going through. It will keep you on track to stay on a clean eating plan too!