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5 Foods That Fight Inflammation

5 Foods That Fight Inflammation

5 foods with inflammation-fighting powers


Eat these foods to help combat inflammation.

Although often unpleasant, inflammation is an essential part of the body’s immune response to help us heal. However, too much inflammation can cause illnesses, one of the most serious being rheumatoid arthritis. And studies have shown that it can also lead to obesity, heart disease, and cancer. Inflammation can also lead to unfavorable conditions such as joint pain, fatigue, and damage to blood vessels. So how can too much inflammation be avoided?

Click to see the 5 Foods That Fight Inflammation (Slideshow)

Common foods to steer clear of, which can cause inflammation by spurring overactivity in the immune system, are high in saturated fat and sugar. But the good news is that there are also foods that can combat it.

Foods with omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins D and E, and flavonoids and carotenoids can fight against inflammation. To get these nutrients, you should eat fatty fish, olive oil, whole grains, darky leafy greens, and low-fat or nonfat dairy. Foods such as nuts, colorful produce like tomatoes, peppers, berries, and cherries, and garlic, ginger, and turmeric also contain inflammation-battling compounds.

Check out our slideshow on five foods that fight inflammation for more information on the causes of inflammation and to learn how to combat it and stay healthy.

20 Anti-Inflammatory Recipes to Help You Glow From the Inside Out

Inflammation is your body's normal way of protecting you. However, chronic inflammation–due to excess stress, sleep deprivation, or a poor diet–is not normal or healthy.

When your body is chronically inflamed, you can experience swelling, joint pain, bloating, digestive problems, fatigue, and the worsening of diseases such as Alzheimer's, depression, and cancer.

Fortunately, there are foods that can help fight the effects of chronic inflammation. Vegetables, low-sugar fruits, healthy fats from avocados, fish, and nuts, herbs and spices, and (sometimes gluten-free) whole grains can all help to reduce inflammation in the body.

If you are experiencing any chronic inflammation, or if you're looking to simply give your body a healthy reset, here are some anti-inflammatory recipes that will make you glow from the inside out.

Foods that help reduce inflammation include:

Berries – All berries have flavonoids that carry anti-inflammatory properties and berries are carry high levels of antioxidants.

Cherries – Cherries are rich in anthocyanins and numerous studies found that cherries support fighting inflammation (3) and even help reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis. (4)

Turmeric – Turmeric is one of the most studied plants in the world and it known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It has a unique compound called curcuminoids which research has found to interfere with chemicals in the body that cause inflammation.(5)

Pineapple, Papaya, Kiwi – Pineapple is a popular ingredient in many natural joint pain supplements. Papaya, Kiwi, and pineapple have an important compound called bromelain which reduces inflammation response in the body. (6)

Avocado, Walnuts, Chia seeds – Any food that is rich in omega 3 fatty acids like fish, chia seeds, avocado, and walnuts have been studied to fight inflammation. (7)

Leafy Green Vegetables – Kale, Spinach, and Chard all have high levels of magnesium. Research has found that Magnesium reduced certain types of chronic inflammation (8)

There are other natural foods and herbs that help reduce inflammation in the body but the above ingredients are the key ones with research behind them.

Here are 7 Amazing Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie Recipes:

Raw Oats


Throw together a jar of overnight oats packed with dark chocolate, berries, nuts, and a dash of cinnamon, and you'll be fighting inflammation and drastically reducing belly fat. The raw oats are a resistant starch, a type of carb that passes through your gut undigested. Instead of feeding you, it feeds your healthy gut bacteria, which in turn produce a fatty acid that encourages more efficient fat oxidation known as butyrate. Higher levels of butyrate reduce inflammation in your body and help reduce insulin resistance as well. Less inflammation means less bloating and a slimmer you.

The 5 Best Foods to Fight Inflammation

Did you know that an overwhelming amount of chronic disease stems from chronic inflammation in the body? And with that notion, many conditions can be prevented by addressing and taking steps to reduce inflammation within the body.

Inflammation is actually a naturally occurring process within the body, designed to help the body heal from injury or disease. It is triggered by the immune system in response to a perceived threat, such as a cut or an illness. Acute inflammation, which occurs over a usually short period of time, is a beneficial tool that helps to return your body to it&rsquos healthiest state. However chronic inflammation, which occurs over an extended period (and is often less intense) is the kind that is linked to autoimmune conditions, prolonged stress, and debilitating disease.

After all, it is understood that chronic disease stems from chronic inflammation within the body. There is sufficient evidence to now show that heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer&rsquos disease, and even obesity can be influenced by this prolonged immune response. So by addressing the root cause, we begin to adopt a holistic, preventative approach to healthcare. And one of the best ways we know how to remedy and reduce inflammation in the body is with proper nutrition and using the medicinal properties of food. After extensive research, I&rsquove discovered that these are the best foods to fight inflammation - for all diets!

1. Turmeric (Get That Golden Goodness)

Golden lattes aren&rsquot going anywhere and I, for one, am happy that they&rsquore here to stay. Partly because of how delicious they are, and partly because turmeric is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatories in our diet. This is due to curcumin, a compound found in the root that is responsible for the vibrant (often staining) yellow pigment we&rsquove all come to associate with turmeric. The exact mechanisms that determine how curcumin works in the body are still yet to be understood, but there are countless studies across different chronic health conditions that re-instate this belief. So from curries to coffee substitutes, don&rsquot forget to add a healthy dose of turmeric to your day (and remember to add cracked black pepper, as the compounds found in pepper are needed to help deliver the health benefits of curcumin).

2. Fatty Fish & Flaxseeds (Hello Omega-3s)

We&rsquove been told time and time again how important a balanced intake of omega-3s is important for brain health, but there&rsquos so much more to it than simply supporting the brain. Omega-3s are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acids, structurally signified by their double bonds between carbon atoms. These fats, which are crucial for good health, can reduce the production of molecules and substances linked to inflammation, such as inflammatory eicosanoids and cytokines. There is even consistent peer-reviewed evidence that highlights the relationship between high intakes of fatty acids and reduced inflammation throughout the body. No matter your dietary preferences, there&rsquos even more of a case to add omega-3-rich foods to your plate.

Plant-based Tip: Flaxseed or linseed oil is an alternative to fatty fish, that&rsquos easy to use in everything from daily smoothies to salad dressings. It&rsquos quite fragrant, so start small, and you&rsquoll be all over the rewards in no time.

3. Leafy Green Vegetables

We know that leafy greens are ideal for alkalizing and detoxifying the body, but they also offer anti-inflammatory benefits. Greens like kale, arugula, silverbeet, spinach, chard, and collard greens, to name a few, offer a rich nutritional profile with high concentrations of micronutrients that reduce chronic inflammation in the body. Vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are the four fat-soluble vitamins, have shown across multiple studies that they can fight inflammation. A lot of leafy greens also partially breakdown to contain alpha-linolenic acid, which is one type of omega-3 fat (and we know how wonderful that is for inflammation)!

4. Extra-Virgin Cold-Pressed Olive Oil

No kitchen is complete without cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil. If possible, organic is best here too. But what sets this apart from your regular olive oil? It&rsquos the first extraction from the olive, done without any heat or chemicals that destroy the integrity of this amazing plant. Extra virgin olive oil has widespread health benefits, including improving heart health, promoting brain function, potential anti-cancer benefits, and it can also handle moderately high temperatures without oxidating. The best thing about olive oil is that most of these incredible benefits come from the anti-inflammatory properties of the food. Olive oil is rich in oleic acid, which studies have shown reduces inflammation and may even have beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer, alongside powerful antioxidants like oleocanthal, which has actually been shown to work similarly to ibuprofen - only naturally!

5. Blueberries & Pomegranates

It&rsquos not just the traditionally healthy foods that claim all of the amazing health benefits there are fun foods that contain anti-inflammatory properties too! Take blueberries, for instance, which are loved as a natural source of antioxidants. The major antioxidant, anthocyanin, is what gives this berry it&rsquos gorgeous deep blue color and is largely thought to be responsible for the anti-inflammatory capabilities, along with the high fiber and vitamins A, C, and E content. Pomegranates, not unlike blueberries, are also often enjoyed for the antioxidants they contain. One of these antioxidants, punicalagin, has potent anti-inflammatory properties with studies showing that they can reduce inflammation in the digestive tract, as well as in breast and colon cancer cells.

So if you&rsquove ever needed an excuse to keep eating more of your favorite foods, let this be it. These are just some of the best foods to fight inflammation, and ongoing research is telling us there is plenty more. Of course, all foods should be consumed in moderation in a healthy, balanced diet, but as always, try to include these plants-as-medicine foods at any opportunity!

If you&rsquore looking for the latest research and information on reversing chronic inflammation, healing your gut naturally, improving your energy levels, and conquering anxiety and overwhelm for good, then our latest summit is for you! Click here to learn more about The Food Matters Total Wellness Summit and save your free spot !

James Colquhoun is the filmmaker behind Food Matters, Hungry For Change, and Transcendence Seasons 1 & 2 and founder of Food Matters and FMTV. Along with Laurentine ten Bosch, James founded the Food Matters community …

The homemade dressing for this salad is so full of anti-inflammatory ingredients that being heavy-handed will work in your flavor, er, favor. It’s made with olive oil, lemon juice, turmeric, mustard, ginger, and garlic, then drizzled over the mixture of kale, onions, pecans, and mint.

Get more anti-inflammatory vegetarian recipes&mdashand share your own favorites&mdashin Well+Good’s Cook With Us Facebook group.

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The skin of a pear contains more phenolic phytonutrients than its flesh, shows a 2015 study from North Dakota State University, which also recommends the fruit as a way to help better control blood glucose levels and prevent type 2 diabetes. Kantor adds that pears’ phytonutrients include antioxidant and anti-inflammatory flavonoids as well as cinnamic acids and other potentially anticancer phytonutrients.

Click here for our Pumpkin Pear Soup recipe.

What Does ‘Anti-Inflammatory’ Mean?

Inflammation is your body’s response to fighting against things that harm it, such as infections, injuries and toxins. It’s your body’s attempt to heal itself, but while it can do good in some cases, it can become your enemy in others. When your body recognizes anything that’s foreign (such as an invading microbe, plant pollen or chemical), it triggers inflammation.

While inflammation can protect your health, if it persists when you’re not threatened by a foreign invader, it can be dangerous. Chronic inflammation has been linked to major diseases such as cancer, heart disease, depression and Alzheimers, and commonly results in pain, redness, and swelling. ‘Anti-inflammatory’ is a drug or substance that reduces inflammation in the body. There are certain foods that have awesome anti-inflammatory properties that help to heal inflammation.

The Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Eat (Plus Eight to Avoid)

Inflammation is at the root of many chronic diseases, but you can fight it with food. Arm yourself with knowledge, and then use these delicious, disease-fighting recipes from my cookbook, Meals that Heal.

2 Types of Inflammation

Inflammation is a natural response by the immune system. But there are two very different types.

“Good” acute inflammation occurs when we get a cut, break a bone, or come into contact with a bacteria or virus. Symptoms like swelling, redness, or a fever may be bothersome, but these are signs the body is healing itself. The symptoms will go away in a few days.

�” chronic inflammation is triggered by a foreign body or irritant, such as chemicals, additives, and other compounds in the environment or in the food we eat.It can be triggered by stress and inadequate sleep, too. Symptoms are vague, and this inflammation doesn’t go away on its own.

Foods can either calm inflammation or contribute to it.

Top 8 Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Eat

  1. Leafy greens (romaine, arugula, spinach, kale)
  2. Extra-virgin olive oil
  3. Berries
  4. Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts)
  5. Fatty fish (salmon)
  6. Green tea
  7. Fermented and probiotic-rich foods (yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi)
  8. Nuts and seeds

Top 8 Pro-Inflammatory Foods to Avoid

  1. Foods high in saturated and trans fats
  2. Foods with added sugars and/or artificial sweeteners
  3. Fried foods
  4. Processed foods
  5. Cured and processed meats
  6. Alcohol in excess
  7. Caffeine in excess
  8. High omega-6 to omega-3 ratios

From Subtle to Serious

Think of initial chronic inflammation as a small fire in the body. It’s localized and not yet severe. Poor food choices trigger inflammation that can result in slightly higher than normal blood sugar or blood pressure.

But just like how sparks from a small fire can create a second or third fire, this initial inflammation can increase the body’s sensitivity, making it easier for irritants to result in inflammation in another area of the body. Poor food choices, combined with stress and inactivity, can trigger inflammation in the form of weight gain, hypertension, and/or insulin resistance.

If these small fires aren’t put out, more fires start, and they become one large systemic blaze. In the body, symptoms become more noticeable. If nothing changes, inflammation pushes the body to serious conditions, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

There are 25 Diseases and Conditions Connected to Chronic Inflammation

Speak with your doctor about chronic inflammation if you experience any of the following:

  • Memory loss
  • Joint pain
  • Weight gain or inability to lose weight
  • Above-normal blood sugar
  • Hypertension (or prehypertension)
  • Bloating, gas, or constipation
  • High LDL, low HDL
  • High triglycerides
  • Fatigue
  • New sensitivities to foods or the environment
  • Headaches

Long-Term Effects of "Bad" Inflammation

Unless it’s calmed, low-grade, chronic inflammation takes a gradual toll on the body, damaging cells and overworking the immune system, which can lead to these health issues: heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, cancer, osteoarthritis, and irritable bowel syndrome—to name just a few.

The Right Ratio

Often labeled the “good” fat, unsaturated fats and oils contain both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. But most Americans over consume omega-6 and don’t get enough omega-3. This skewed ratio, as well as the fact that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and prevent disease, is thought to be a contributor to inflammation. 

Healthy fats and oils are made up of a blend of fatty acids, so choose good sources of omega-3, such as fatty fish, flaxseed, walnuts, chia seeds, and omega-3-rich eggs, daily. Then choose foods that have a higher proportion of omega-3s, like avocados, almonds, and oils from olives, avocados, canola, corn, and peanuts. 

60%  Percentage of Americans with at least one health condition either caused by or aggravated by chronic inflammation.

Anti-Inflammatory Recipe to Try: Zucchini Taco Skillet

"Fight off inflammation with this healthy taco skillet which uses zucchini and lean ground beef." �rolyn Williams PhD, RD

5 Foods that Fight Inflammation

Inflammation is a common response the body has to injury, pain, illness, and stress. If your body has a temporary, acute inflammatory response, it is simply a sign of natural healing.

But inflammation can become problematic when it becomes a chronic, low-level condition. It is like an unattended fire burning away and attacking healthy body tissues. Inflammation is seen at the root of many other diseases, such as diabetes, auto-immune and heart diseases, neurological disorders, and cancer.

Wondering what causes it? Our modern habits alone can lead to this common condition, including eating too many sugary, high-processed foods insufficient omega-3 intake lack of sleep lack of movement or exercise chronic stress lack of down-time away from technology and poor digestive health.

So how can we fight it off? If you want to stay healthy and live longer, start by adding these 5 anti-inflammatory foods to your diet:

Kelp: This sea vegetable is a type of brown algae that is rich in fucoidan, a complex carbohydrate that is anti-inflammatory. Studies have shown it to have antitumor and radioprotective properties. Its high-fiber content also helps balance blood sugar and promotes weight loss. If you’ve never cooked with veggies, start with something simple, like this kelp cucumber salad.

Wild-Caught Salmon: This fish provides healthy doses of omega-3 essential fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation and are essential for brain health. Salmon and other oily fish also provide the crucial Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) omega-3 fatty acids, which are not found in plant sources. Make sure your salmon is wild and not farmed, because farmed salmon does not have the same health benefits. Try this ginger broiled wild salmon.

Shiitake Mushrooms: Common in Chinese and Japanese cooking, shiitake mushrooms provide anti-cancer benefits in addition to anti-inflammatory properties. They have been used medicinally in China for more than 6,000 years. Try them in a simple stir-fry or in this soothing shiitake gravy.

Papaya: This tropical fruit contains high levels of papain (a protein-digesting enzyme) and vitamins C and E which, combined, help reduce inflammation. Papaya can also help you improve your digestion. Try it in this Thai papaya salad.

Sweet potato: Don’t overlook the benefits of this common tuber. It is rich in anti-oxidants such as vitamin B6 and C, and the anti-stress mineral magnesium. Moreover, their naturally sweet flavor and high fiber content make them perfect for curbing sweet cravings. Try this baked caraway sweet potato with rosemary.