Inflammation is a normal part of the body’s immune response. It’s the body’s way of removing harmful stimuli and beginning the healing process. In many cases, inflammation can be beneficial. Infections, wounds, and any damage to tissue would not be able to heal without an inflammatory response. Signs of inflammation include pain, redness, swelling, immobility and heat. If you’ve sprained your ankle, inflammation would be a clear sign that the healing has begun.
However, the problem begins when inflammation in the body becomes chronic and ongoing and it begins to show up in other ways including digestive stress, fatigue, brain fog and persistent joint pain. Untreated chronic inflammation can lead to a series of long-term health problems such as arthritis, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and debilitating digestive illness.
If your joints are continuously achy or if you experience unexplained fatigue or digestive stress (bloating, constipation, diarrhoea or food sensitivity) then you may want to take a closer look at your diet and make a few tweaks.
The top 7 foods to eat to reduce inflammation:
- Omega-3-rich foods including salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring, and nuts such as walnuts and almonds.
- Healthy oils such as extra virgin olive oil, avocado and walnut oil: Extra virgin olive oil is loaded with heart-healthy fats, as well as oleocanthal, which has properties similar to non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Berries: Fruits high in antioxidants can help fight free radicals, which can cause cellular damage.
- Broccoli: Rich in vitamins K and C, broccoli also contains a compound called sulforaphane, which researchers have found could help prevent or slow the progression of osteoarthritis (OA). Broccoli is also rich in calcium, which is known for its bone-building benefits.
- Soy: Soybeans are low in fat, high in protein and fiber, affordable, and they’re also packed with phytonutrients, which helps decrease inflammation.
- Green tea: Is high in polyphenols, which has been shown to have particularly potent antioxidant effects.
- Garlic: It’s the sulfur compounds in garlic that seems to help reduce joint inflammation.
And whilst you should boost your diet with anti-inflammatory rich foods, it’s also important to reduce or eliminate the foods that are part of the problem.
Here are the top 5 foods to reduce in your diet:
- Processed sugar: Desserts, ice cream, lollies, soft drink, confectionery, pastries, milkshakes, and fruit juice. Studies have shown that processed sugars trigger the release of inflammatory messengers called cytokines.
- Salt: High salt diets promote tissue inflammation.
- Saturated fats (usually found in animal products like red meat and dairy products): Several studies have shown that saturated fats trigger adipose (fat tissue) inflammation, which also leads to heart disease.
- Alcohol: Excessive use weakens liver function and the body’s ability to detox, leading to increased inflammation.
- Omega 6 fatty acids: These fatty acids are found in vegetable oils such as corn, safflower, sunflower, grapeseed, soy and peanut. Omega 6 fatty acids are essential for the body’s function and development, but the over-consumption of omega-6s can trigger the body to produce pro-inflammatory chemicals.
Other culprits include gluten, MSG, casein (found in dairy products) and refined carbohydrates (white flour products) and trans fats.
Don’t know where to start, what to cook or what to eat? Download my e-book ‘Refuel – Nourishing recipes to feed your tired and hungry muscles’ or check out the blog for dozens of my recovery recipes.