When it comes to your health, one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is to manage inflammation. If you have read any of my previous posts, you probably are starting to notice a theme: inflammation is the culprit behind so many health conditions and diseases. When we focus on managing inflammation, everything else will start to fall into place. In this article we will discuss six of the most effective anti-inflammatory foods, and I’ll give ideas how to incorporate them into your diet. Ready? Let’s chat!
Why it’s so important to manage inflammation
Chronic inflammation has been linked to everything from autoimmune disease and mood disorders to heart disease and certain types of cancer. It can wreak havoc on your digestive system, immune system, joints, and cognitive function. In fact, inflammation is the root cause behind so many health conditions that plague the population today. So, if inflammation is to blame for so many diseases, then what is to blame for inflammation?
While there are a variety of factors that can lead to inflammation, including stress or a lack of physical activity, a diet high in inflammatory foods can certainly have a big impact. The good news: just as some foods lead to increased levels of inflammation, there are others that are just as powerful at combatting inflammation. Remember, food is medicine, and with the right combination of healthy, anti-inflammatory foods in your diet, you will be on your way to better health in no time.
Top Foods to Eat on an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
I would be remiss if I didn’t kick off this section with bone broth. While you read this, imagine that I am shouting it from the roof tops. Bone broth is the ultimate gut healing, anti-inflammatory super food and your stomach will thank you for eating it! So, what makes bone broth so powerful? It is PACKED with collagen, which has the power to repair the intestinal lining and support gut health. Read more about the benefits of collagen in my article linked here. An unhealthy gut is a major contributor to inflammation. So, by keeping the get healthy, we are reducing the chances of developing gut related inflammatory conditions. Collagen also supports joint health. As inflammation has been linked to rheumatoid arthritis and other joint related conditions, eating foods that support joint health reduces the likelihood of suffering from joint related diseases.
How to eat it: Look for a high-quality bone broth at your local health food store. I typically order the Kettle & Fire brand. Heated up on the stove, it makes a great mid-day snack on its own or use it in your favorite soup recipe in place of vegetable or chicken stock.
Ginger is another superfood when it comes to gut health. Like collagen, ginger can calm intestinal inflammation, allowing the gut lining the opportunity to heal. Ginger is also a powerful tool when it comes to improving digestion. It reduces bloating and reflux, both of which can irritate the digestive system and lead to inflammation. Finally, ginger is effective at ridding the body of various toxins such as bacteria, fungus and heavy metals. When we have too many of these pesky pathogens in our system, they can disrupt our gut microbiome, leading to inflammation and a weakened immune system.
How to eat it: My favorite way to incorporate ginger into my diet is through stir fry! I combine coconut aminos (soy sauce alternative) with garlic and ground ginger or ginger paste for a delicious stir fry sauce. I have also found ginger cubes in the frozen section at Trader Joe’s which I add into my morning smoothie. Or opt for ginger tea! It’s delicious and has incredible calming abilities on the digestive system.
Wild Caught Salmon
Although wild caught salmon is my favorite, any wild caught fatty fish will do! This includes mackerel, tuna and sardines. Fatty fish are an excellent source of the long chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. As these fatty acids are digested by the body, they release compounds that are effective in fighting inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to fight against anxiety and depression, promote brain health and reduce the risk of heart disease.
How to eat it: The stir-fry sauce described above makes for an amazinggg marinade or sauce for salmon. Served with a side of veggies and a scoop of brown rice, trust me, the meal will be on repeat at your house! Or, for the sushi lovers among us, tuna and salmon nigiri are another delicious option for getting your daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The Mediterranean Diet has been praised for its anti-inflammatory properties. And it would be impossible to talk about the Mediterranean Diet without talking about extra virgin olive oil. It is the cornerstone of the diet, and for great reason! Extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest fats that you can eat. It’s rich in monounsaturated fat and antioxidants that have been shown to be effective in reducing inflammation. Be sure to look for “extra virgin” on the label as refined olive oil does not carry all the same health benefits.
How to eat it: The easiest way to add extra virgin olive oil into your diet is to cook with it! Use it in place of butter or cooking spray when cooking on the stove. It also works great in salad dressing! Combine three-parts olive oil with one-part balsamic vinegar, some Dijon mustard, garlic and Italian herb seasoning for a delicious and healthy make-at-home salad dressing.
Where to start with berries? Berries are another incredible superfood chalk full of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. There is no shortage of health benefits when it comes to these fruity friends, including support for brain health and immune system support. And of course, they have been shown to reduce inflammation! Fresh or frozen, these superfoods definitely deserve a spot on your plate.
How to eat: In addition to being enjoyed on their own, my favorite way to get my daily dose of berries is through a smoothie. Frozen berries add to the creamy consistency of the smoothie while also packing a nutritional punch. They can also be combined with yogurt and granola for a breakfast parfait or added as a garnish to your favorite chia pudding.
Broccoli, kale and Brussel sprouts – oh my!
What do these veggies have in common? They are all part of the cruciferous vegetable family. Eating a diet rich in these veggies has been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease and some forms of cancer. And again, these beauties are full of antioxidants which fight against inflammation causing compounds such as cytokines. Veggies are also a great source of fiber which helps keep our bodies regular. The more toxins you can expel from the body, the healthier your gut microbiome, which in turn helps to combat inflammation.
How to eat: Ok hear me out….stir-fry! I know, I’m a broken record. But seriously, what better way to get a mountain of veggies on your plate combined with that delicious, anti-inflammatory ginger sauce? Other ideas include kale blended into a smoothie, roasted broccoli and Brussel sprouts served alongside your favorite protein, or make Brussel sprouts the main event with a shaved Brussel sprout salad.
By no means are the foods described above an exhaustive list, but they are a great place to start for anyone seeking to heal or prevent inflammation through diet. Interested in learning more about living an anti-inflammatory life or using food as medicine? Remember to subscribe to the JUICED newsletter below to stay up to date on the latest content!
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