What Causes Inflammation?

Inflammation is a process in which your body protects itself from things like infection, illness, and even injury. Whenever your body determines that something is wrong, it goes into overdrive in an attempt to fight off whatever is afflicting you.

While inflammation can be a good thing as it's a natural process where the human body uses it to help fight illness and protect the body for additional harm, there are times where certain medical conditions cause faulty inflammatory responses by the body. This can sometimes cause acute to severe discomfort for those afflicted by inflammation.

What Are The 5 Classic Signs Of Inflammation?

How do know if your discomfort is more than a brief annoyance and actually the sign of something else? Funny, you should ask....

Here are a few of the telltale signs of inflammation.

  • Pain
  • Heat
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Loss of Function

Foods That Fight Inflammation

Did you know that are a number of different foods that can help reduce inflammation? Your health can be improved by incorporating foods that are high in anti-inflammatory properties.

Let's take a look at some of the most popular fresh foods that can fight off the effects of inflammation.

Broccoli

broccoli

This sprout's anti-inflammatory property comes its glucosinolate content. Studies have shown that these compounds help fight diseases by triggering an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory response. In addition, broccoli is high in vitamin K, another mineral that is known to regulate inflammatory responses in the body. If that wasn't good enough, these sprouts are also abundant in magnesium, potassium, and essential B-vitamins. No wonder broccoli is amongst some of the best superfoods. The best thing about broccoli is that it is versatile and can be included in any dish, like this broccoli and cheese quiche.

Tomatoes

tomatoes

The chemical lycopene gives tomatoes their vibrant red color and it fights depression-causing inflammation and protects against cell damage. To get the benefits of tomatoes, it's best to leave the skin on. In fact, research shows that processed tomatoes have 2.5 times more lycopene than raw ones. Specifically, ketchup and tomato sauce has 5mg of lycopene while one serving of raw tomatoes has less than 1mg. Don't purchase bland store-bought tomato sauce or ketchup, make your own with this recipe for homemade Italian tomato sauce or take a crack at homemade ketchup!

Blueberries

bowl of blueberries

Blueberries are high in the antioxidant quercetin, a flavonoid that fights inflammation and cancer. The anti-inflammatory properties of quercetin are amplified with the phytonutrient anthocyanins, a flavonoid that gives blueberries their color and processes anti-inflammatory capabilities. If you're still not sold on the power of blueberries, a study in the Journal of Nutrition found that consuming blueberries daily slowed cognitive decline. Scientists involved in this study concluded that the results were due to the antioxidants in blueberries protecting the body from oxidative stress. To get the benefit of this superfood, you can throw them in yogurt or blend them in a berry and banana smoothie.

Green Leafy Vegetables

swiss chard

You're told numerous times to "eat your greens," and for good reason. Leafy dark green vegetables like spinach, kale, swiss chard, and collard greens are packed with carotenoids-antioxidants. Carotenoids-antioxidants are known to protect cells and prevent early stages of cancer. In addition to this, leafy greens are loaded with vitamin K, C, and B-12. A way to reap the cancer-fighting benefits of green veggies is through juicing. Not only is it more nutritious than eating them whole, it is more convenient than cooking them. Try this recipe for the classic green juice made with spinach, kale, and green apple. If you don't own a juicer and are thinking about starting your juicing journey, check out our guide of the different types of juicers along with our list of the best centrifugal juicers on the market.

Beets

beets

You know a superfood is full of antioxidants just by looking at its color. Betalains are pigments that give beets their vibrant purple color and are known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They help fight cell damage done by inflammation. Beets are also high in magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is linked to many inflammatory diseases. Additionally, without magnesium calcium cannot be processed. A buildup in calcium causes kidney stones that invite more inflammation. To avoid this, it's crucial to include magnesium-rich foods like beets in your diet. Ditch the regular potato chips and reach for some beet chips.

Pineapple

pineapple chopped into slices

Pineapples contain the chemical bromelain, a digestive enzyme that reduces inflammation and improves osteoarthritis, poor digestion, and muscle soreness. Bromelain has also been proven to prevent blood clotting, lowering the risk of heart attack. This powerful fruit is also full of nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin B1, potassium, and manganese. To add, pineapples are full of phytonutrients that relieve the symptoms of inflammatory ailments like joint pain. Pineapples are great by themselves but taste even better when blended with banana and coconut in a Pina Colada Smoothie.

Salmon

raw salmon

The omega-3s in salmon possess potent anti-inflammatory capabilities. In particular, the EPA and DHA in salmon effectively attack inflammation through the increase of adiponectin. This hormone enhances the body's ability to burn fat, use carbs for energy, and boosts metabolism, which ultimately decreases markers of inflammation. Also, the omega-3s in salmon have been proven to alleviate inflammation and reduce the need for anti-inflammatory medications. Along with this, they are known to lower risk of chronic anti-inflammatory conditions like heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Add a piece of tender and flaky baked salmon to your dinner plate tonight.

Chia Seeds

chia seeds piled

Another healthy superfood high in healthy fats is chia seeds. They are rich in both omega-3 and omega-6. Additionally, they contain vitamins A, D, E, and B, along with minerals like sulfur, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, and thiamine. These tiny seeds have powerful benefits, including lower blood pressure, reverse inflammation, and regulate cholesterol. Like almost all foods on this list, the antioxidants in chia seeds work by preventing oxidative stress. Chia seeds can be added to anything including water, but a more interesting snack is homemade mango yogurt with lucuma and chia seeds.

Red Pepper

red pepper

According to Journal of Food Science, out of all the peppers, red peppers are the most beneficial. They have the greatest amount of the anti-inflammatory vitamin C and bioflavonoids beta-carotene, quercetin, and luteolin. Luteolin has been found to counteract free radicals and decrease inflammation. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid that is associated with the reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. As explained earlier, quercetin yields an array of health benefits and can take the place of an over-the-counter antihistamine by decreasing the number of cells reacting to an allergen. Red peppers are great when chopped in an omelet or stuffed with your favorite savory filling.

Walnuts

walnuts

Don't be afraid to go nuts over this next antioxidant-rich food. Walnuts are high in omega-3s, DHA, and EPA. Like explained previously, these healthy fats provide anti-inflammatory benefits. Nuts, in particular, are great for decreasing the risk of heart disease. Therefore, walnuts are a great snack that you should add to your anti-inflammatory diet. Get cracking, and sprinkle some chopped walnuts in a leafy green salad or add them to delicious banana bread.

Foods To Avoid

For every food that helps fight inflammation, there has to be one that makes it worse. Here are just a few of the different types of food you should avoid if you have problems with inflammation. It might be difficult, but it will be worth it in the long run to avoid any of these foods.

  • Processed Meats
  • Sugary Drinks
  • White Bread and White Pasta
  • Soybean Oil and Vegetable Oil
  • Cookies, Candy, and Ice Cream
  • Gluten
  • Excess Amounts of Alcohol
  • Foods Loaded with Carbohydrates
  • Chips and Crackers
  • Fried Foods
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