Inflammation is a response of the body's immune system to tackle threats like infections. However, the immune system gets it wrong at times and leads to chronic inflammation. If you experience redness, pain, swelling, or heat around a particular spot for a prolonged period of time, you have reason to suspect chronic inflammation.
Your body may experience inflammation around random organs and spots (like lower back) due to an unhealthy lifestyle too. Chronic inflammation needs to be dealt with because it can increase the risk of heart diseases, stroke, and rheumatoid arthritis.
The good news is that a healthy diet and lifestyle can easily solve this problem. Here are some of the common foods that are anti-inflammatory in nature.
Nightshade vegetables are known to ease joint pain and inflammation even though there is no evidence to support this claim. However, one particular nightshade, tomatoes, live up to the expectation. Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and lycopene (the pigment that imparts red and pink colour) which are two substances that can curb inflammation.
Cucumbers are rich in phytonutrients which are plant chemicals with protective and preventive properties. Phytonutrients like flavonoids, lignans, and triterpenes have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Cucumbers literally cool the inflammatory response in the body and inhibit the activity of pro-inflammatory enzymes.
Broccoli is the over-achiever among vegetables. It is one of the healthiest foods and it is not surprising that broccoli can tackle unnecessary inflammation. Broccoli is rich in an antioxidant called sulforaphane which can reduce the levels of cytokines and NF-kB which drive inflammation.
Studies have proven that cruciferous vegetables contain antioxidants that can lower certain blood markers of chronic inflammation. Cabbage and cauliflower can also combat oxidative stress which lowers the chances of unnecessary inflammation.
The secret of these root vegetables lies in their hue. Carrot and other orange-coloured vegetables are rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene. Both substances can fight inflammation. Beets contain a pigment with anti-inflammatory properties called betalains. Both vegetables are more beneficial when cooked.
Grapes are rich in anthocyanins, pigments responsible for the purple, blue colours. Anthocyanins are known to contribute to a number of health benefits including better cognition and reducing cancer cell proliferation. They are also anti-inflammatory and can inhibit or suppress cytokines.
Oranges are rich in vitamin C which has antioxidant properties. Regular consumption of oranges will lessen oxidative stress and fight inflammation. Drinking pure orange juice has been recommended by experts to lower the risk of chronic inflammation. The acidity in citrus fruits does not elevate inflammation.
Olives are rich in a plant compound called oleocanthal which has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Olives and olive oil are known to naturally reduce the pain associated with inflammation and arthritis. Oleocanthal is known for its ability to mimic the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen.
Similar to grapes, anthocyanins in berries help with inflammation. They also contain many polyphenolic compounds (phenolic acids, proanthocyanidins, and ellagitannins) that combat inflammation. In addition, berries are full of vitamins and antioxidants. Blueberries top the list in fighting inflammation with flavonoids. Adding berries to your breakfast and smoothies are a great step towards preventing chronic inflammation.
Avocados are known for its countless health benefits and healthy fats. Its monounsaturated fat and antioxidants do an excellent job of controlling the body's inflammatory response.
A natural sugar called AV119 found in avocados can help in regulating the inflammatory response in human keratinocytes (a type of cell found in the outermost layer of the skin). A controlled clinical trial has provided evidence that people who ate hamburgers with avocados had fewer inflammatory markers than those who ate regular hamburgers.
Pineapple is rich in bromelain, a mix of enzymes that can reduce inflammation. It is the same enzyme that causes the tingling sensation in the mouth. Bromelain can break down proteins and it contains chemicals that interfere with tumor cells. Bromelain causes the body to produce substances that fight pain and inflammation.
Walnuts are rich in ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) and omega-3 fatty acids. Consumption of walnuts is associated with lower C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation. A subgroup of polyphenols called ellagitannins is high in walnuts. The microbiome in the gut can convert ellagitannins to compounds called urolithins, which are great at fighting against inflammation.
Coconut oil is known for being rich in antioxidants that can stabilise free radicals and neutralising reactive atoms. Both of these factors can contribute to inflammation. Regular consumption of coconut oil can lower the risk of chronic inflammation.
Curcumin is widely sold as an anti-inflammatory supplement and it is naturally found in turmeric. It is also an antioxidant that can reduce pain and swelling. In some cases, it works when applied topically. Cinnamon is known for its ability to inhibit cell damage. It contains two substances with antioxidant properties, cinnamaldehyde and cinnamic acid. They fight off free radicals and lower the risk of inflammation.
Ginger is one of the most popular anti-inflammatory foods that work particularly great for people with arthritis. Ginger contains plant compounds that work the same as COX-2 inhibitors (drugs used to treat pain and inflammation). While you can add ginger in your diet, the topical application also works.
Quinoa is rich in phenolic acids, vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus. The presence of antioxidants (quercetin and kaempferol) plays a key role in reducing inflammation. Quercetin also kills cancer cells and regulates blood sugar. Even though quercetin and kaempferol are found in other foods, the high fibre content in quinoa enhances its absorption.
Pistachios are known to significantly reduce inflammation at the cellular level. It is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients like potassium, phosphorus, thiamine, and manganese. They also contain several antioxidants vital to organ health. Polyphenols and tocopherols also have anti-cancer properties. Pistachios also reduce cholesterol and promote heart health.