One aspect of eating certain foods is the risk for inflammation. Inflammation in our bodies is a immune response where white blood cells and immune proteins helps trigger healing. Much of the processed foods we eat cause inflammation in our digestive tract, joints, connective tissue and internal organs.
When you eat a lot of processed foods and foods high in sugar, it can kick your immune system’s inflammation response in high gear. Once inflammation is triggered, it can cause joint pain, fatigue, and even damage your blood vessels.
Recent studies have linked sugar and highly processed foods to the rise in auto-immune diseases like chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and eczema, for example. As we know, autoimmune diseases like arthritis — where the body's immune system attacks itself — is directly related with inflammation.
Studies have been done to identify anti-inflammation foods to help reduce many diseases such as arthritis. What has come from these studies is a guarded approach from most physicians, dietitians and nutritionists on whether there is enough evidence to support a diet as treatment. On the other hand, there are many of these healthcare professionals and homeopathic medical practitioners that are convinced diet can reduce symptoms and in some cases completely solve the inflammation issue using whole organic foods to treat chronic illness.
Once again, I am writing on a subject that has controversy around it, so how do we proceed with the idea that certain foods can help heal and support our health? It is clear to all of us that good healthy whole foods are the correct step toward better health. I have put together a short list of whole foods that are very good for you and may in fact help reduce inflammation in the body. Whether you believe these foods will or won’t help treat inflammation and autoimmune disorders is irrelevant as long as we recognize that these are just great foods to have in our diets.
1. Some of my favorite snacks that help me avoid junk food and have been identified to reduce inflammation are walnuts and almonds. Walnuts are one of the best sources for plant-based protein among the nuts. These nuts are rich in fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, and antioxidants. Walnuts are also loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and can help reduce your risk of heart disease, improving your blood vessel elasticity and reducing plaque buildup.
Almonds are loaded with vitamin E and magnesium, two nutrients frequently lacking in many people's diets. Eating just a handful of almonds on a daily basis can help lower your “LDL” or bad cholesterol. Eating almonds with the skin on will also provide you with a large number of antioxidant flavonoids.
2. The obvious foods for good health are green leafy vegetables. For example, Kale is the densest green you can eat. It is a great source of dietary fiber, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, iron, magnesium and phosphorus, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, calcium, potassium, copper and manganese.
Baby spinach is another anti-inflammatory veggie and is loaded with minerals and nutrients that will improve your red blood cell function, and is great for heart health. It is also a good source of niacin and zinc, and a very good source of dietary fiber, protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, Vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper and manganese.
3. Fatty fish — like salmon and tuna — is another great food choice. Fatty fish are high in omega 3 fatty acids and studies have shown eating fish has many health benefits, including the reduction of inflammation.
4. Fruits such as strawberries, blueberries and cherries are great choices to reduce inflammation. Substances called anthocyanins found in strawberries, blueberries and cherries have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body. Eating healthy fruit is a great way to skip refined sugar for the natural sweetness of fruit.
5. Olive and coconut oils are great choices for cooking and eating healthy. Studies have suggested that both olive and coconut oil as dietary fat sources may offer protection against inflammatory diseases in your digestive tract. Both oils have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, most notably from polyphenols, which help fight oxidative stress in the body.
There are many other anti-inflammatory foods, such as ginger and turmeric, which can be added to your daily diet to support your health. The one thing that has been proven is some processed foods and sugar trigger inflammation. Inflammation in the body creates discomfort and can have a chronic negative health aspect to your day to day life. As you make your way through all the great foods this Christmas, keep in mind some of the food you eat can trigger inflammation, so look for healthy choices for your holiday nutrition.
A recognized health and wellness presenter, fitness trainer and now primal health coach in the Inland Northwest. Now in his eighth year of bringing health and wellness through his writing, teaching and coaching, Judd delivers his well-rounded message of mindfulness, nutrition and fitness to readers and clients alike.