There are many reasons you might find yourself dealing with inflammation. Although it is a painful and uncomfortable condition, it is sometimes a necessary bodily response. Sometimes it even facilitates the healing process.
However, inflammation can also be the direct result of a disease or syndrome. The latter may include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or osteoarthritis. Anyone who has suffered from such a disorder has probably felt frustrated on more than one occasion. But there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Reducing Inflammation With Food
Consuming specific foods on a regular basis can significantly decrease inflammation. But it’s also possible to eat food that makes conditions worse.
Nature Verses Chemical Substances
Various anti-inflammatory medications are available both by prescription and over-the-counter. However, many have negative side effects and adverse reactions. We take a more detailed look at many of the different approaches in our article on arthritis knee pain relief.
Because of the potential for side effects, many will be pleased to discover that nature could offer a remedy for inflammation that is not only side-effect free, but also tasty.
A Wealth of Benefits
Fortunately, the primary foods recommended by nutritionists to ease inflammation are also some of the healthiest. They are typically loaded with essential vitamins and minerals that everyone needs to enjoy good health.
Many foods on the anti-inflammatory list are also high in antioxidants. Most people are aware that the latter play a vital role in the prevention of cancer. The following are the top foods used in anti-inflammatory diets.
Putting Super Foods to Work
Most people have heard certain types of fresh produce referred to as “super foods.” This is because such fare is high in specific nutrients that strengthen the immune system. However, vegetables and fruits also contain phytonutrients. These are plant-based substances that have been proven to help reduce inflammation.
According to expert nutritionists, those following an anti-inflammatory diet should consume a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. This ensures that the person will receive the entire range of benefits offered by these foods.
The top foods in this category include oranges, bananas, mangoes, mustard greens, cantaloupe, spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, and all types of berries.
Not only do these foods help reduce inflammation, they are also rich in disease fighting antioxidants. It is best to consume these items in their fresh state. However, new research indicates that frozen vegetables and fruit retain more nutrients than was once believed to be the case.
The Many Benefits of Whole Grains
Most people know that whole grains are a healthy part of any diet. Fortunately, certain foods in this category also contain potent anti-inflammatory substances.
These foods include brown rice, barley, oats, bulgar, spelt and wild rice.
Numerous scientists believe that the high fiber content in whole grains also plays a vital role in reducing inflammation. Processed or bleached fare in this category should be avoided, however. This is because such foods offer few health benefits and may even make inflammation worse.
Great Benefits for Seafood Lovers
Seafood lovers will be very happy to know that many types of fish contain anti-inflammatory properties. This is particularly true regarding fatty fish such as sardines, salmon, mackerel and trout.
These oily fish contain omega-3 fats, which not only lessen inflammation, but also improve heart health. These essential fatty acids cannot be produced by the human body, but rather must be ingested.
For this reason, seafood lovers have everything to gain and nothing to lose by increasing their intake of these fish varieties.
A Word about Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. One can choose from a wide variety of options in this category.
These include walnuts, almonds, peanuts, flax seeds, pecans, and sunflower seeds.
Although all nuts and seeds have a certain amount of omega-3s, the six listed above have the highest amounts. Just one handful of nuts a day is all it takes to reap the benefits.
The Role of Spices
When following an anti-inflammatory diet, one should not forget to add spices. This is because substances found in some spice varieties are very helpful with regard to reducing inflammation.
Turmeric is an Asian spice commonly found in curry powder. It contains a potent substance called curcumin. Research indicates that curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effects rival that of powerful drugs such as corticosteroids. However, they obviously do not come with the latter’s side effects.
Ginger is another spice recognized for its anti-inflammatory benefits. Both spices can easily be found in your local grocery store or health food shop.
Chillies have have also long been used to reduce pain from inflammatory conditions, or rather the extract from them called capsaicin. This is the substance that gives chillies their heat.
These are just some of the ingredients often used in products to target arthritis and related symptoms. You can read more about some of these natural ingredients in our review of Provailen (an all natural supplement with some surprising success stories from arthritis sufferers).
Just One More Benefit of Green Tea
Famous around the world for its numerous health benefits, the flavanoids found in green tea are also able to ease inflammation.
Current research is being conducted to further investigate this benefit. It is recommended that those drinking green tea for this purpose consume a minimum of two cups per day.
The Flip Side
Just as the aforementioned foods can reduce inflammation, there are also foods that can make inflammatory conditions worse. These include the following categories:
Nightshade plants, such as bell peppers, eggplant and potatoes are frequently a part of the Western diet. Unfortunately, however, while they are not unhealthy, they can exacerbate inflammation. This is because those with inflammatory disorders often respond poorly to alkaloids, and these are found in higher amounts in such foods.
It is also wise for those who wish to decrease inflammation in their bodies to avoid sugar. Sugary foods play a major role in inflaming joints and muscles. This is because it contains properties that activate arachidonic acid. This substance can confuse the immune system and cause it to turn on itself. When this happens, inflammation in the form of an allergic reaction occurs.
Although not all people have this reaction to sugar, anyone who consumes high amounts of sugar-rich foods is at risk for this side effect.
The Way Forward
By adding more anti-inflammatory foods to their diet, many people have successfully eliminated the need for medication to treat their symptoms. Because it can be easy to do and is relatively inexpensive, it is likely that more people will turn to more natural measures too, rather than prescription medications to ease inflammation.
However, you should of course always speak to a healthcare practitioner prior to changing your diet.