Inflammation is a big topic today. And for a very good reason! What we’re finding is that chronic, low-level inflammation is linked to multiple severe health issues, including heart disease, obesity, diabetes and even arthritis. Many people don’t understand what this means or how they can stop it.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s defense response to something it perceives as being a danger, but this is not a bad thing at all! Acute inflammation (meaning it doesn’t last long) helps the body to ward off infections and to promote healing. However, chronic inflammation – the body’s response in overdrive for months or even years – that causes us a lot of problems.
What causes inflammation?
The Standard American Diet causes inflammation. Yep – it’s that simple. High levels of sugars, high levels of refined simple carbohydrates, high levels of sodium and high levels of saturated fats and trans-fats are the cause. They turn on this immune response, and it simply does not turn back off. And while it’s on, it causes severe and often permanent damage.
Luckily, any health issue caused by diet can often be reversed by changing the diet. And even if you are already suffering from a disease caused by inflammation – such as arthritis or heart disease - you can often make a big difference in your symptoms by making the dietary changes as described below.
The five best foods for inflammation
As scientists studied inflammation, they found that one diet seemed to reverse the chronic inflammation faster than any other diet: the Mediterranean diet. People who eat a diet full of healthy fats, whole grains, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and little red meat, were found to have the lowest levels of chronic inflammation than any other population.
To properly follow this diet, you need to stop eating the Standard American Diet and start eating foods from the list below.
1. Foods that contain high levels of Omega 3’s.
Omega 3 foods include chia seeds, salmon, mackerel, tuna sardines, and anchovies. Omega 3’s are powerful anti-inflammatories that are often lacking in today’s diet. However, if you love your beef – opt for organically raised grass-fed beef as it has a higher level of Omega 3’s than the traditionally raised beef.
2. Naturally Fermented foods
Years ago, pretty much every culture ate naturally fermented foods. Today, very few people do. However, what we know is that the probiotics in naturally fermented foods can help the body fight infection, and they can built immunity, which lowers the body’s need to become inflamed in the first place.
3. Healthy oils
If you don’t do anything else, drop the canola oil and the processed vegetable oils completely from your diet. Despite the marketing hype, these oils are often the worst culprits in terms of inflammation because they have an extremely high Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio. Omega 6 fats give us inflammation and Omega 3s fight it.
Healthy fats are higher in Omega 3s and are usually non-processed. These include cold-pressed olive oil, coconut oil, nut oil, or avocado oil.
4. Colorful Vegetables
Colorful vegetables, such as those that are dark green, bright red or orange contain some of the highest levels of antioxidants. Vegetables high in antioxidants are also some of the highest anti-inflammatory foods available. In addition, even though they are not colorful, garlic and onion should be a dietary staple. They are nutrient-dense, and jam packed with vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to stay healthy.
5. Fresh Fruits
Like vegetables, fruits (including tomatoes as tomato is technically a fruit) are great anti-inflammatory agents. They all contain high levels of vitamins, minerals and fiber that helps the body gain a higher level of immunity.