By Miriam Latto
Chronic inflammation is something many people live with and, according to Men’s Journal, it’s a common thread running through a host of diverse conditions such as obesity, type-2 diabetes, arthritis, stroke, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and depression. Athletes also have their fair share of inflammation with continued overuse of certain parts of the body – think tennis elbow, for example. And chronic inflammation becomes more common as our immune system weakens with age.
You can’t control aging and you may not want to quit your sport, but you can certainly do something about lessening the intensity of chronic inflammation by paying attention to your diet. From medical schools to health-based television shows like Dr. Oz, we’re regularly hearing about the damages caused by unhealthy processed foods and alcohol which cause immune system over-activity. This in turn leads to joint pain, fatigue and blood vessel damage.
Registered dietician Alexis Joseph M.S., R.D. has a list of 10 healthy foods that fight inflammation, information she shared with Kate Bratskeir of Huffington Post Healthy Living. Some of these foods you may love while others may be an acquired taste. But if you want to lessen the severity of your chronic inflammation, they’re certainly worth including in your diet. Here are Joseph’s top 10 inflammation fighters as well as related foods for each one.
Rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3s like fish, almonds also contain vitamin E that Joseph says keeps joints lubricated and protects your body from pro-inflammatory cytokines. Related foods are nuts.
Think “B” for beets – in this case it’s also for betaine, a nutrient in beets that’s been shown to decrease risk for inflammation as well as lowering your blood pressure and boosting your stamina. Beetroot juice and beet juice are related foods.
Think “B” for blueberries, too. Here the “B” is for that blue coloration gotten from anthocyanins, a class of antioxidants that fight inflammation. There are also studies, said Joseph that suggest eating more blueberries reduces oxidative stress and also increases both anti-inflammatory cytokines and the count of natural killer cells. Related foots are raspberries and strawberries, and the good news is that you don’t have to wait for berry season to enjoy them since frozen berries don’t lose their antioxidant capacity.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
With an abundance of polyphenols and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, olive oil says Joseph, helps “kick inflammation to the curb.” Because it’s produced by the first pressing of the olives through a cold pressing process, extra-virgin olive oil has less than one percent acidity. And according to Arthritis Today, olive oil has anti-inflammatory properties that are similar to those of ibuprofen and aspirin. Joseph lists avocado oil as a related food because it has similar benefits to olive oil but has a higher smoke point than olive oil, making it a good choice for cooking at high temperatures.
With a long history of healing properties that include reduction of heart disease and a lowering of both cholesterol levels and blood pressure, garlic blocks inflammatory cytokines from developing. And like tomatoes, heating garlic boosts its anti-inflammatory effects. Related foods are onions and leeks.
Vitamin K is, according to Joseph an “anti-inflammatory powerhouse,” so think “K” for kale. Actually, Vitamin K can be found in most of the dark green leafy veggies but kale is enjoying a new-found popularity as more people are looking at it as a healthy food option, whether through cooking and eating it or adding it to a smoothie. Just one cup of kale provides 10 percent of the recommended daily amount of omega-3 anti-inflammatories. Related foods are any dark, leafy green, like spinach and chard.
Salmon is a fatty fish that Joseph says provides “a hefty dose of both EPA and DHA,” two powerful omega-3 fatty acids that can not only reduce inflammation but also lower a person’s risk for cancer, heart disease, asthma and autoimmune diseases. Related foods here include other fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel and sardines but you can also take fish-oil supplements.
Researchers from the Oregon Health & Science University announced in 2012 that tart cherries have “the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food.” A study on long-distance runners showed that those who drank tart cherry juice on race day not only had less inflammation but also recovered faster than those who didn’t drink the juice. Joseph only lists tart cherry juice under this related foods section.
Whether or not you’re into tofu, it and other soy products have been shown to have a marked anti-inflammatory effect due to the phytoestrogens and omega-3 fatty acids found in soy products. Related foods in this case include “whole food sources such as organic tofu, tempeh, edamame and miso are best,” said Joseph.
Lycopene is an antioxidant found in tomatoes that helps to fight inflammation. And Joseph says that cooking tomatoes actually increases their anti-inflammatory properties because heat brings out more lycopene. Related foods include tomato juice as well as colorful veggies with low starch levels, like peppers, squash and greens.
Source: Huffington Post Healthy Living
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