Inflammation of the body leads to a rise of cortisol, the stress hormone, and can lead to a myriad of health problems. By filling your diet with anti-inflammatory foods, you can do your body a favor and help decrease its inner stress. Here is a complete guide to the different types of foods that fight inflammation, from fruits and vegetables, to healthy fats and protein.
All the health claims about fiber in the news have a certain degree of truth to it. Fiber is an inflammation fighter that can slow the rate of glucose absorption, so you won’t experience the typical sugar high and subsequent crash characterized by refined carbohydrates, commonly found in baked goods. Fiber is also great for the digestive system, as its roughness can “scrub” the colon clean, prevent constipation, and aid the digestive process. Be sure to always drink tons of water when ingesting fiber, as fiber and water usually go hand in hand.
Be sure to swap all the white, refined carbohydrates out for wholesome, unprocessed grains. The easiest swap would be whole wheat breads. However, whole grains don’t need to be boring; ancient grains, such as couscous, quinoa, or millet, can add a new texture or taste to healthy foods.
[Related – 10 Must-Have Foods For Your High Fiber Diet Plan]
Fruits And Vegetables
Fresh veggies and fruits are perhaps the best first line of defense towards neutralizing inflammatory foods. Not only are they packed with fiber (see the benefits above), they are also filled with essential nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants. As a general rule, the more colorful and vibrant the produce is, the more antioxidants it contains. This does not mean just eating the typical lettuce and carrots; try to eat the colors of the rainbow for variety. Here are some alternative suggestions if you are bored with your typical produce:
- Swiss chard
- Sweet potatoes/purple yams
- Seaweed or kelp
- Brussels sprouts
A great anti-inflammatory source of protein is oily fish that are high in omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids have been proven to decrease inflammation in the body and help decrease cardiovascular-related diseases, ocular diseases, and have brain protecting benefits. Lean meats that come from grass-fed animals can also boast the same anti-inflammatory benefits without the saturated fats (be sure it is a lean cut!). Some examples of anti-inflammatory animal proteins include:
- Sea bass
- Lean red meat
Even better, swap all animal proteins out for some good old fashioned beans and legumes as your new protein source as if you were on a vegetarian diet. Some examples of anti-inflammatory plant proteins include:
- Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
[Related – 10 Great Sources Of Protein For Vegetarians]
Yes, you are reading this right – fats can also be healthy and anti-inflammatory as well! Most healthy fats are derived from plants, and are animal free. To help along, look for polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, and avoid animal-derived saturated fats as much as possible, and trans fats at all costs. However, be sure to still indulge in moderation, as they can be high in calories. Some sources of healthy fats include:
- Plant-derived cooking oils (such as olive oil, peanut oil, sunflower seed oil, grape seed oil, hemp oil, etc)
- Coconut oil (great for deep frying!)
- Nuts (try walnuts, almonds, macadamias, and cashews)
- Chia seeds
[Related – Dietary Fats: Separating The Bad From The Good]
Food condiments can also be anti-inflammatory by nature. For example, herbs and spices not only pack a punch in taste, but also in free-radical fighting antioxidants. Trade the salt shaker for some of these spices below:
Tips And Guidelines
If you feel overwhelmed by the information above, here are some general tips and guidelines to make eating anti-inflammatory foods a piece of cake:
- Aim for variety. Eat the “colors of the rainbows” – have one food from each color daily. The more vibrant the color, the better.
- Increase intake of fresh produce, such as veggies and fruits.
- Decrease animal fat intake, and eat all fats mindfully.
- Avoid fried, processed, or pre-packaged foods as often as possible.
- Flavor your cooking with herbs and spices instead of the salt shaker.
- Be mindful of what you eat – eating an abundance of anti-inflammatory foods can still pack on pounds because they still have calories!
- For a hearty and filling meal, try baking or stewing root vegetables rather than reaching for a pastry or a fatty dessert.
- Add daily exercise to your new healthy diet to maximize anti-inflammatory properties
Try some of these antioxidant-rich foods today to start your path on a healthier journey!