First things first, inflammation is a natural process in the body, so it’s impossible to get rid of it completely. Nor would you want to. Inflammation is the body’s natural way of defending against foreign invaders and helping us heal from injuries.
It’s when inflammation goes into overdrive and becomes chronic, that’s when you’ll start to see the undesirable side. Chronic inflammation can damage cells throughout the body, leaving them unable to function properly. These cell changes inhibit the body’s ability to perform properly and can initiate changes that contribute to the development of a disease. Chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, arthritis and diabetes are linked to this type of inflammation overdrive in the body.
The best way to manage your body’s inflammation level is through diet and lifestyle changes. Depending on your condition, there may be specific foods or groups of foods that are recommended to remove from your diet to lower inflammation.
Common culprits that increase inflammation include highly processed foods, added sugars, alcohol, and refined grains. It’s no surprise that the more processed a food is, the more it will increase inflammation in your body.
Food intolerances or sensitivities also play a role in increased inflammation in your body. When you have a low-grade sensitivity to a food, you might not notice a difference right after eating it. Symptoms may build over time as you increase the quantity of the food in your diet. This makes identifying food sensitivities very tricky. If you suspect a sensitivity to a particular food, try removing it from your diet for 2 weeks before slowly reintroducing it. See if your symptoms return 1-3 days after reintroduction.
While there isn’t one food in particular that will cure chronic inflammation, foods that are high in antioxidants will help you get started. For best results, add more of these healthy foods into your routine along with some simple lifestyle changes. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night, stay active, and reduce stress where possible to help your body calm inflammation.
Eat These Foods to Calm Inflammation
Here are some healthy inflammation-fighting foods to add to your daily diet to see the benefits.
Fatty fish (or flaxseed)
Eating omega-3 fatty acids in the form of wild-caught salmon or other fatty fish (like sardines and mackerel), a few times a week has been found to turn off pro-inflammatory genes in your body. It also improves cells’ ability to rid themselves of harmful components. If you’re a vegetarian or you don’t like fish, you can substitute for 1 to 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, ground flaxseed or walnuts to get plant-based omega-3 fats.
Known for being loaded with healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, avocados support heart health. They’re an excellent source of fiber – one avocado offers your full day’s worth of recommended fibre. Eating more fibre will help your body fight inflammation and make it easier for you to maintain a healthy weight. Carrying excess pounds can increase inflammation, so keeping your fibre intake high will help your body lower inflammation in more ways than one. Fibre is also essential for a healthy functioning gut, which is a center for inflammation and immune response in the body.
This high-antioxidant fruit contains anthocyanins – an antioxidant specific to red and purple plant foods, as well as vitamin C which supports immune function. The best way to get a high dose of cherry antioxidants in your diet is to drink cherry juice. You can juice them yourself or buy a pre-made juice (careful that there’s no sugar added!). Cherry juice will give you the equivalent to 45 to 270 fresh cherries per day! Eating the whole fruit daily in your regular diet will also go a long way to supporting your body in calming inflammation.
These deep red root vegetables also contain anthocyanins. In addition, beets contain different phytochemicals, called betalains, that act similarly in the body to fight off inflammation. You can add them to your juicer (cherry beet juice?!) or roast them to use as a salad topper or side dish. Either way, they’re a delicious way to get a healthy dose of helpful nutrients.
Probably the most versatile food on this list. Choose any type of nuts you like – walnuts, almonds, cashews, or pecans – and add them to your daily diet. You don’t need a large quantity of nuts to get the ebenefits. As few as 5 nuts per day can make a difference in lowering inflammatory biomarkers like C-reactive protein. Add them to your salad, smoothie, or eat them by the handful, but do your body a favour and get them in your diet.
Dark leafy greens
Eating a salad per day is a great way to increase your antioxidant intake. Dark leafy greens, like kale, spinach, chard, and arugula, all of which pack nutrients, most notably lutein, folate and vitamin K, that slow down inflammation. Each different type of green offers a unique benefit for your body. Try them sauteed with garlic, add them to your soups or stir frys, even blend a handful into your morning smoothie. To make the most of them, add a variety to your diet daily.
Ok, maybe it’s not a food per-say, but staying hydrated is a great way to combat inflammation. When your body is properly hydrated, it has all of the components it needs to run daily processes like digestion and the removal of cell waste and toxins from the body. Similar to getting enough fibre, drinking enough water each day will help your body shed excess weight which will help you keep inflammation levels down. Just make sure you’re using filtered water for best results.
It’s possible to use food to calm inflammation that isn’t related to food sensitivities or another underlying condition. Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, and antioxidants support your body in lowering inflammation and excreting toxins that keep your inflammation level high. Staying properly hydrated will help all of your body’s processes work better, making it easier to lower inflammation in your body as a whole.