Chronic inflammation has been implicated in many modern health conditions including heart disease, chronic pain, diabetes, arthritis and allergies. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury. It allows our body to heal. However, when inflammation happens in response to repeated exposure to allergens, toxic chemicals or unhealthy foods, inflammation can become chronic, leading to long term health issues. Fortunately, there are many foods you can add to your diet to reduce inflammation in your body.
Foods to Add
Salmon: In addition to its heart healthy, inflammation reducing omega-3 fatty acids, salmon also provides calcitonin, which has been shown in clinical studies to reduce the inflammation in joints and may protect against pain from osteoarthritis. Salmon is also rich in Vitamin D which when at low levels in the body can lead to increased pain perception. Eating 2 3.5 oz servings of fatty fish like salmon, lake trout, sardines, tuna, herring or mackerel a week is considered ideal.
Turmeric: Turmeric, also known as curcumin, is a spice that gives curry and other Indian foods their bright yellow color and peppery taste. It seems to have anti-inflammatory effects and has been studied as a possible way to ease the chronic pain of rheumatoid arthritis. It also increases metabolism by supporting liver and gall bladder function. Turmeric can be taken as a capsule or you can include it in your cooking on a regular basis. If cooking with turmeric, be sure to add pepper to your dish. The peperine in the pepper helps with absorption of the turmeric.
Red Grapes: Red grapes contain resveratrol, a chemical compound that is thought to have anti-inflammatory benefits and may have an analgesic effect similar to aspirin. Other sources of resveratrol include blueberries, dark chocolate and peanuts. In the lab, resveratrol has been shown to stop certain cells in the body from responding to the signals of inflammation, suggesting that it could ultimately help fight pain. Subsequent research has shown that combining resveratrol with turmeric may enhance the ability of both to fight inflammation.
Cherries: Compounds in cherries called anthocyanins, phytonutrients that give cherries their rich red color, are powerful antioxidants that decrease pain by blocking inflammation and inhibiting pain enzymes, just like pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories. As few as 45 cherries a day or 24 oz of tart cherry juice a day may provide some pain relief.
Olive oil: Olive oil can be an important tool in fighting pain. It is rich in antioxidant polyphenols that help inhibit a common pain-causing mechanism in the body. Olive oil, with its rich supply of anti-oxidants, is also important for reducing inflammation.
Thyme: The cooking spice thyme has compounds that seem to interfere with lab mice’s ability to perceive pain. Currently, scientists have been unable to pinpoint the cause of thyme’s pain fighting ability but thyme can be a tasty method for reducing pain. Rosemary is another inflammation reducing herb.
Hot Peppers: Capsaicin, an ingredient in hot peppers, is excellent at decreasing pain. Capsaicin works by depleting or interfering with substance P, a chemical involved in transmitting pain impulses to the brain. You can buy capsaicin-containing creams at most pharmacies. Though topical relief is most effective for arthritis, eating about ½ teaspoon of powdered peppers a day yields pain-fighting benefits.
Leafy Greens: Leafy greens are a rich source of Vitamin K, a vitamin which helps maintain healthy joints and bones. Preliminary research has also found it may have some anti-inflammatory effects. Eating just one cup of raw leafy greens a day provides all the vitamin K required. If you are taking an anti-coagulant, consult your doctor about consuming Vitamin K because it does aid with clotting. Leafy greens are also rich in many phytonutrients and antioxidants which further help reduce inflammation.
Pineapple: Pineapple contains many enzymes, vitamins and minerals which can help with chronic pain. Bromelain, an enzyme, helps reduce swelling and inflammation in the body which can lead to arthritis. Bromelain can also help you digest fibrin, another compound which contributes to arthritis. Pineapple is also rich in Vitamin C which can reduce the rate of cartilage break down.
Fermented Foods: Fermented foods add beneficial bacteria to your digestive system. These microbes aid your gut in assimilation of vitamins, nutrients and anti-oxidants so you can enjoy the full benefit of all the healthy food you are consuming. Kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, miso and natto are all great additions to a healthy diet.