Your immune system attacks anything in your body that it recognizes as foreign—such as an invading microbe, plant pollen, or chemical. The process is called inflammation. Intermittent bouts of inflammation directed at truly threatening invaders protect your health.
However, sometimes inflammation persists, day in and day out, even when you are not threatened by a foreign invader. That’s when inflammation can become your enemy. Many major diseases that plague us—including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s—have been linked to chronic inflammation.
One of the most powerful tools to combat inflammation comes not from the pharmacy, but from the grocery store. “Many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects,” says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Choose the right foods, and you may be able to reduce your risk of illness. Consistently pick the wrong ones, and you could accelerate the inflammatory disease process.
Foods that inflame:
– refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
– French fries and other fried foods
– soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
– red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
– margarine, shortening, and lard
Here are the TOP 5 anti-inflammatory foods
1. Blueberries—a study in the Journal of Nutrition showed that eating berries daily could significantly reduce inflammation. Why is this exactly? Well berries contain a class of antioxidants called flavonoids, but it’s the anthocyanins, specifically, that contribute their anti-inflammatory effects by effectively turning off inflammatory and immune genes.
2. Green tea—a humble drink that’s been cherished as a health miracle for centuries. These benefits stem from catechins, the group of antioxidants concentrated in the leaves of tea plants. And the most powerful of all catechins, a compound called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, is found almost exclusively in green tea. Scientific studies, like one in the Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology & Research, suggest that the high EGCG and polyphenol content in green tea make it a stronger anti-inflammatory elixir than other teas like black tea.
3. Chia Seeds—with 9 grams of healthy fats (including inflammation-quelling ALA omega-3s) alongside a whopping 11 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein per ounce, chia seeds can stabilize blood sugar, boost weight loss, suppress appetite, and even help keep your body hydrated throughout the day. Put them all together, and you have an inflammation-fighting superfood.
4 Strawberries—strawberries are delicious, juicy, and sweet – and to make it even better, they’re also good for your health. Strawberries are low in calories, high in fiber, and they contain vitamins and minerals your body needs to function normally, including a lot of vitamin C. They also have anti-inflammatory properties and plenty of potential health benefits. Just about all berries are good for you because the pigments that give them their color also contain antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation.
5. Kiwis—enzymes are one of the oldest natural remedies for inflammation. bromelain, an enzyme rich extract from the pineapple fruit, has been used by the medical community for over 50 years. The most effective enzymes seem to be the ones that break down proteins. These are found abundantly in several fruits like kiwi, pineapple and green papaya. When consumed raw, a portion of these enzymes are absorbed intact into the bloodstream where they break down inflammatory complexes.