The word "inflammation" is thrown around during healthy water cooler chatter probably as much as the word "superfood." But I think most people aren't quite sure what it means. Essentially, inflammation is the body’s reaction to stress — like an alarm bell alerting all of your cells to a problem that needs to be fixed ASAP.
That stress can come from your diet, lifestyle, environment or an infection. When you catch a cold, it’s your body’s way of fighting it off. When you cut your skin, it’s the way it heals itself. Short-term inflammation is helpful, but too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing — and that’s the kind of inflammation that everyone is talking about.
Prolonged, chronic inflammation is linked to heart disease, obesity, diabetes and just about every other chronic disease that can have severe, life-threatening consequences. Knowing which foods cause inflammation and which foods fight it is one of the best strategies to reduce chronic inflammation and stay uber healthy. So, what are some of my favorite foods that fit this bill? Here ya go!
These coveted berries deserve their praise. They contain anthocyanins, compounds that act as antioxidants and reduce inflammatory responses. Anthocyanins are also what cause these berries to turn your fingers purple. Can’t get your hands on some? That’s OK, just include blueberries, cherries, cranberries and eggplant in your diet.
2. Brussels sprouts
This cruciferous veggie contains an antioxidant called sulforaphane, which has been shown to reduce levels of inflammatory compounds. It’s also linked to a reduced risk of diseases like heart disease and cancer, which may be attributable to its anti-inflammatory powers. Sprouts newbie, are you? Get started this way.
In addition to its brain health and blood-pressure benefits, cinnamaldehyde (a compound found in cinnamon) is an antioxidant that inhibits expression of inflammatory compounds. It’s not just for apple pie, these muffins will make you want to get up in the morning!
4. Olive oil
Olive oil’s many health benefits are partially attributed to its ability to prevent inflammation. It contains oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat linked to reducing inflammation and is loaded with powerful antioxidants, the compounds that battle free radicals. Just be sure to reach for cold-pressed. Pour some on your salad (when you heat it too high, you’ll lose some of that goodness as the molecular structure changes) and you’ll also absorb more fat soluble vitamins found in those greens.
Organosulfur compounds in garlic have been found to inhibit inflammatory enzymes and to decrease production of inflammatory-signaling molecules in the blood. Now you have an excuse for that garlic breath and your partner still has to kiss you!
These berries are kind of the triple threat against battling inflammation. They contain powerful antioxidants like vitamin C, anthocyanins and glutathione. That’s likely why studies have shown eating them regularly can reduce inflammatory markers.
This spice is trending for good reason. It’s filled with curcumin, which acts as a powerful antioxidant to fight free radicals while at the same time lowering levels of enzymes that cause inflammation. It’s like the Superman of anti-inflammatory foods.
For more tips on how to live a nutritious life, follow Keri on Instagram @nutritiouslifeofficial.