More and more research is establishing a link between chronic inflammation and various chronic and degenerative diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Inflammation is the immune system’s natural response to an attack to the body, either through injuries, such as a cut or insect bite, or in response to an infection or exposure to irritants. The inflammation process protects the body by isolating the injury or infection, drawing more nourishment and immune cells to the area to promote healing.
Prolong and unwarranted inflammation, on the other hand, damages the body instead of healing it, causing health problems and illnesses. Genetics, lack of exercise, stress and exposure to toxins are all contributors to chronic inflammation.
Fortunately, the right foods can protect you and even reverse the damage caused by chronic inflammation. Learning how specific foods influence the inflammatory process is the best way to counter it and prevent long-term disease.
Here are the five best anti-inflammatory foods that you can include in your diet.
Antioxidants are nutrients that help neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are highly interactive molecules that can damage cells and trigger inflammation. Cauliflower, cabbage and red bell peppers are good sources of vitamin C; carrots, sweet potatoes, and winter squash supply beta-carotene; tomatoes are rich in lycopene; and leafy greens like spinach and kelp also provide a good supply of antioxidants.
Polyphenols are anti-inflammatory phytochemicals found in plants. Most notable of these compounds are anthocyanin, which gives fruits and vegetables their rich blue, purple and red hues. Some excellent sources of polyphenols include apples, red cabbage, blueberries, cranberries, cherries, red and purple grapes, radish, broccoli and tea.
Quercetin belongs to a group of plant pigments called flavonoids, and possesses potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Quercetin is found in garlic, red and yellow onions, red grapes and broccoli.
Curcumin is a compound found in turmeric that gives it its bright hue. It is also one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory compounds found in nature.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that play an important role in several bodily functions. Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to several health-promoting benefits, including anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory capabilities.
There are two major types of omega-3s. First is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is found in plants. Sources of ALA include soybean, flaxseed, walnuts kale, brussels sprouts, spinach, and salad greens.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are found in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines and herring.