Updated: Oct 9, 2018
Inflammation in the body is caused by injury, pain, illness, stress and a poor diet just to name a few! But, did you know that inflammation is also necessary for our body’s natural healing to take place?
Here is the deal:
Inflammation/stress is not a bad thing except when it is becomes a chronic long term issue. When this happens, illness and disease can develop. Think of inflammation as an unattended fire burning away and attacking healthy body tissues.
This slow burning fire happens because of habits like eating too much sugar and processed foods, a poor diet, low omega-3 intake, bad digestion, a lack of sleep, lack of movement or exercise, as well as chronic emotional/mental/physical stress. It also occurs when we do not take time to quiet our brains, relax our bodies and be in nature. In other words, when we do not practice a healthy lifestyle.
Since most of my private practice with clients starts off with using foods to heal the whole body, I thought it would be useful to share some of my favorite anti-inflammatory foods with you.
Just remember that you do not have to add all of these foods to your diet every day or even every week or month or year. If you don't like something on the list, then don't eat it!
Just add 1-3 of these foods from the list below to your diet to help reduce your inflammation because remember, it only takes a 10% consistent change or addition to you lifestyle to feel better!
The WOW List:
1. Papaya is a tropical fruit that contains high levels of papain (a protein-digesting enzyme) plus Vitamin C and E which when combined, help reduce inflammation. Papaya is also great digestive aid. Say hello to this yummy fruit and adios to gas and bloating!
2. Avocado contains 2 phytonutrient compounds, polyphenol and flavonoids, that have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties. The monounsaturated fats can reverse insulin resistance and the fiber helps to keep blood sugar level stable and reduce inflammation in the digestive track. Avocados also contain anti-oxidants and glutathione, which may boost your immune system, slow down aging and encourage a healthy nervous system.
3. Cranberries are high in Vitamin C, fiber, manganese as well as phytonutrients that are high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer compounds. Try adding a few unsweetened dried cranberries to your salad! And incase you were wondering about cranberry sauce, the one from the can does not count because it is loaded with 52.5 grams of sugar for a 1/2 cup serving! YIKES!
4. Broccoli and red cabbage contain sulforaphane which is know to reduce inflammation in the arteries. It also contains a ton of Vitamin C, which is linked to inflammation reduction and keeping your immune system healthy.
5. Hemp and sesame seeds both contain plant sterols that help to modulate the immune system and bring down inflammatory overreaction. The powerful seeds are also high in plant based protein to balance your blood sugar and help muscles repair post workout. They are also exceptionally rich in Vitamins B1, B3, and E, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, and zinc to help balance your immune system.
6. Walnuts contain Vitamin E and heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which have both been proven to reduce inflammation. Walnuts are one of the most heart healthy nuts you can eat and are also great for your brain. (Did you ever notice that they even look like a brain, too?)
7. Turmeric and ginger are both potent anti-inflammatory spices, which protect against oxidation of dietary fats during cooking and against oxidative stress in the body after being eaten. They are known to help with arthritis, lower bad cholesterol and elevate good cholesterol.
8. Kelp is a sea vegetable/brown algae that is rich in fucoidan, a complex carbohydrate that is anti-inflammatory. Studies show it is anti-tumor and radio-protective. It is high fiber content will also help balance blood sugar, aid in digestion and promote weight loss.
9. Wild-Caught Salmon* provides a nice dose of omega-3 essential fatty acids to reduce inflammation and help with brain health. Oily fish, like salmon, also provide the crucial Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) omega-3 fatty acids, which are not found in plant sources.
*NOTE: Only eat WILD salmon, not farmed, because farmed salmon does not have the same health benefits. Farm raised salmon also can contain added hormones, pesticides, artificial coloring and the farming process is toxic to the environment.
10. Shiitake Mushrooms are an asian mushroom that have anti-cancer benefits in addition to anti-inflammatory properties. These delicious mushrooms have been used medicinally in China for more than 6,000 years to treat all types of illness.
11. Sweet potatoes are a delicious tuber that is rich in anti-oxidants such as Vitamin B6 and C, as well as magnesium, a digestion promoting, anti-stress mineral. They are also naturally sweet and contain a high fiber content, making them perfect for curbing sweet cravings.