At the core of it, do you know what’s behind some of the worst diseases that affect people today?
I’m talking about the chronic conditions that severely limit people’s ability to live their lives, force them to live with pain, discomfort, and the risk of worsening health and even death.
Conditions like diabetes, chronic ulcers, high blood pressure, Crohn’s disease, heart disease, even asthma – do you know what the mechanism behind those diseases is?
If you haven’t guessed – it’s inflammation. By all means, many of those chronic conditions are caused by lifestyle choices, genetics, and other factors. (1)
But the way that those chronic conditions affect people’s lives and how they cause pain and trouble in the body is because of runaway inflammation. The truth is, the root of the pain and danger in those conditions is your body’s natural inflammatory response.
The good news is, there are many incredible ways to control inflammation – and one of the most natural, healthy, and effective ways to bring down inflammation is through your diet. (2)
Before we get to the best foods that help to control inflammation, let’s talk a little bit about what inflammation is.
What Is Inflammation Anyway?
Inflammation is a normal, natural part of your body’s response to an outside factor. On its own, it’s a critical part of the way your body fights off disease, infection, and illness.
Inflammation occurs as a result of your body’s white blood cells and the substances they produce. When you’re injured and need to fight off infection, or when you’re sick, your body’s immune system springs into action. (3)
Your immune system sends white blood cells to wherever they’re needed to fight off the infection or illness. The byproduct of your white blood cells fighting against the infection is inflammation. It’s caused by the fight itself, as well as the white blood cells and the substances they produce.
Those chemicals cause increased blood flow to the injured or infected area, and cause the telltale signs of inflammation: swelling, redness, warmth to the touch, swollen joints, stiffness, and pain.
Ever notice that if you get a cut on your skin the area around it gets puffy, red, and sometimes hot to the touch? That’s inflammation – and it’s a sign your body’s immune system is doing its job to fight infection and keep you healthy. (4)
When Does Inflammation Become A Problem?
Like we talked about before, inflammation is your body’s natural response to infection and illness. But what happens when your body’s natural response becomes misdirected?
When your immune system gets confused, that’s when you get chronic conditions that exist and are exacerbated by inflammation. Conditions like arthritis are caused when your immune system mistakenly attacks your healthy joint linings for no apparent reason. (5)
Those conditions are called auto-immune diseases. With arthritis for instance, the white blood cells attacking your joint linings cause inflammation (as they always do), which results in swelling, damage to the joint lining and damage to the cartilage cushioning your bones against each other.
The end result of all of that is the chronic arthritis pain that so many people suffer from.
This is just one example of how inflammation works against you when your body’s immune system doesn’t function as it should.
So the question remains: how do you cut down on inflammation through the diet to help control different conditions?
What’s The Best Diet To Control Inflammation?
If you guessed that the typical North American diet isn’t the best for controlling inflammation – you’d be correct.
In fact, the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases put out a report saying that the modern North American diet can actually lead to increased inflammation, increased risk for auto-inflammatory disease, increased rates of cancer, and reduced control of infection. (6)
They go on to say that it’s caused by the over-abundance of calories and macronutrients in the typical North American diet.
So how to combat that? Besides the best anti-inflammatory foods (which we’ll get to in a moment), what’s the best type of diet to eat on a general level to control inflammation?
The answer is simple: the Mediterranean diet.
The typical North American diet has tons of processed foods and food products. By contrast, the Mediterranean diet focuses more on whole foods like fruits and vegetables, very little red meat, and lots of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. (7)
What do the foods in the Mediterranean diet have in common?
They’re all rich in anti-oxidants, minerals, and essential fatty acids that control inflammation and chronic inflammatory diseases and help your body to be as healthy as possible.
So take a look at the list of the best anti-inflammatory foods below. As always, clearing all the food out of your kitchen and replacing it with foods on this list isn’t the best way to go for the long term. You might make serious short term changes, but it makes you much more likely to revert back to old habits because the new ones were too big to get used to all at once.
That’s why small changes are the best way to build new dietary habits. Try adding a couple of the foods below to your diet – and slowly shifting towards a more healthy anti-inflammatory diet routine.
If you’re serious about building dietary habits that naturally control inflammation and help keep you healthy – the Mediterranean diet is a great place to start.
The Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods For Your Diet
Broccoli is an amazing food for so many different reasons – and one of them happens to be its incredible anti-inflammatory properties.
That’s because it contains tons of potassium and magnesium, both of which help your muscles function properly and help to control inflammation. (8)
It also comes chock full of different antioxidants, flavonoids, and carotenoids – all of which play crucial roles in your body’s natural function and in keeping your body healthy.
If you’re looking for a filling, nutritious, healthy food that’s chock full of the nutrients your body needs and lends a ton of effort to the fight against inflammation, look no further than broccoli.
Walnuts are awesome for fighting against inflammation and keeping your body healthy. That’s because they’re chock full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which your body desperately needs and which help combat inflammation. (9)
They’ve also got tons of protein and healthy fats, which if you’re cutting down on eating meat in your diet will help keep your nutritional intake balanced and whole.
Plus, they’re full of compounds called phytonutrients which are rare in most other foods and can help protect against conditions like type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular issues.
Add them to salads or munch on a few whole walnuts as a delicious snack to keep inflammation down and your body healthy.
Turmeric is an incredible anti-inflammatory that goes overlooked in too many people’s diets.
It contains a compound called curcumin which is a potent anti-inflammatory in many different situations and against many different types of inflammation. (10)
Curcumin has been found by researchers to be far more potent than even over the counter pain relievers like asprin and ibuprofen at preventing inflammation and stopping it at its source.
If you suffer from a condition like rheumatoid arthritis, turmeric can be your best friend in the fight against chronic joint pain. The curcumin can significantly reduce the inflammation that’s causing the worst symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and help you manage the condition.
Celery has been a subject of study for researchers and scientists looking for many different health benefits, from helping cholesterol levels to improving blood pressure to fighting against heart disease.
That’s because of its inherent anti-inflammatory properties, which help push it over the top as an incredible health food.
Celery is already a super low calorie food that’s an amazing source of fiber and hydration to keep your digestive system going strong. It also comes chock full of potassium, antioxidants, and vitamins, which further the fight against inflammation and help keep you healthy. (11)
Pineapple is a sweet and delicious choice for stopping inflammation. It’s got tons of an enzyme called bromelain, which is a potent anti-inflammatory.
Not only that, bromelain also helps to regulate your immune system – and there’s evidence that it helps to modulate and prevent an over-active immune system that causes bad inflammation and leads to conditions like arthritis. (12)
But we’re not done with the benefits of bromelain. Bromelain also provides tons of help and health benefits for your heart – helping to prevent the bad kind of blood clotting that leads to heart disease. Bromelain has been shown to inhibit the buildup of blood platelets on the walls of blood vessels and arteries, making it a useful tool for helping to prevent strokes and heart attacks.
If pineapple just had bromelain in it, it would be an amazing anti-inflammatory food. But it also comes packed with potassium, manganese, antioxidants, vitamin C, and vitamin B1, all of which give your body what it desperately needs and keep it healthy and happy.
And if that’s not enough, it’s also got phytonutrients in it that can help your body fight off illness and infection even more effectively, helping you to lead a healthier life.
6. Green Tea
Green tea is an amazing drink for those looking to cut down on inflammation and also benefit from a host of other health boosts.
That’s because green tea contains tons of catechins, which are a type of antioxidant that do wonders for your body. Those catechins work overtime to help prevent inflammation, and there’s even some evidence that they can help prevent the growth of skin tumors. (13)
Green tea especially is a potent anti-inflammatory because it contains a compound called epigallocatechingallate, which is an extremely effective anti-inflammatory. It can only be found in green tea, so drink up and enjoy the benefits!
7. Dark Chocolate
This food makes the list of foods that have health benefits regularly – which makes chocolate lovers very happy.
And while it’s not healthy for you to eat a lot of dark chocolate, small amounts of it can help you much more than it hurts you. (14)
That’s because dark chocolate has tons of antioxidants in it that regulate blood sugar levels and help keep your stomach healthy. Many of the nutrients in dark chocolate break down in your stomach into anti-inflammatory compounds that help you to feel better and stop inflammation.
Just make sure that you’re eating dark chocolate with a cocoa content of at least 70%. More is better, but 70% is the minimum for these health benefits.
8. Chia Seeds
If you want an anti-inflammatory superfood, look no further than chia seeds.
They’re packed with both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which both are desperately needed by your body to keep it functioning well. (15)
They’ve also got nutrients like manganese, magnesium, sulphur, iron, thiamine, alpha-linolenic and linoleic acid, strontium, vitamin A, B, D, and E, mucin, sulphur – the list goes on.
Those nutrients are often in short supply in typical North American diets, which makes eating chia seeds all the more valuable for those seeking to control inflammation. (16)
Finally, if those benefits weren’t enough, chia seeds have been shown by researchers to lower blood pressure and help lower bad cholesterol levels. If you’re worried about inflammation and you’re at risk for heart disease, it would be tough to find a more perfect food than chia seeds.
9. Cruciferous Vegetables
If you’re looking to fight inflammation, cruciferous vegetables and leafy green vegetables are an incredible place to start. (17)
They have so many different health benefits, from being high in nutrients like vitamin A, C, and K, to having tons of antioxidants that help your cells function correctly and stay healthy. (18)
Plus, the flavonoids in cruciferous vegetables help you to keep inflammation down and control symptoms caused by inflammation. If you’re looking to make a healthy choice, look no further than adding more cruciferous vegetables to your diet.
10. Wild Salmon
If you’ve been paying attention on this list, you know how important omega-3 fatty acids are. And if you’re looking for a food to provide you with more omega-3 fatty acids, you’d be hard pressed to find one better than wild salmon. (19)
Omega-3 fatty acids are incredibly strong anti-inflammatories, and can also help combat other conditions like arthritis, cancer, and heart disease. In addition, mounting evidence suggests they help improve cognitive function and overall brain performance. (20)
Just remember to go for wild salmon rather than farmed salmon if you can. Wild salmon has way more of the nutrients you want.
Antioxidants are another nutrient that lead the charge against tons of different conditions and maladies that affect the body, and beets are an incredible source of them.
Beets contain an antioxidant called betalain, which acts as a potent anti-inflammatory and helps to repair your cells (not to mention make beets the deep color that they are!) (21)
Plus, beets have tons of magnesium in them, which helps to prevent against inflammation due to magnesium deficiency.
You’ll find ginger on most home remedies lists, and it does not disappoint on this one. As an anti-inflammatory it’s top notch, because it helps to warm the body and break down the toxins that accumulate in your organs. (22)
It also helps to control the inflammation from allergic reactions and asthma, in addition to a list of other health benefits that are too long to fit into this article alone. (23)
Don’t rely on ginger just for its nausea fighting properties in ginger ale! Try adding more ginger to your diet and watch your health improve. (24)
13. Bok Choy
Bok choy is, like many of the other foods on this list, an incredible way to get more vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals into your system.
Bok choy in particular is a truly outstanding source of antioxidants, containing more than 70 different antioxidants. (25)
It’s an easy vegetable to incorporate into many different dishes, and it also helps your body control unwanted inflammation while delivering top notch nutrition. Try adding it to your diet and see!
14. Coconut Oil
Scientists and researchers are compiling more and more evidence that coconut oil can help prevent and cut down inflammation – especially arthritis inflammation. (26)
In fact, a study in India found a strong link between the antioxidants present in coconut oil and reduced arthritis inflammation – with more of an effect than several arthritis medications. (27)
That’s not all coconut oil does. You’ll find it on several superfood lists for its different qualities and uses as a remedy to many different health conditions. It’s an extremely healthy fat, a great cooking oil, and it can even help treat conditions like osteoporosis. (28)
Blueberries have tons of – surprise surprise – antioxidants which help fight against and prevent inflammation. (29)
One in particular that’s found in great concentration in blueberries is an antioxidant called quercetin. Quercetin is an extremely potent flavonoid. Not only does it help to fight inflammation, it also can help prevent cancer.
There have been many studies done on the positive health benefits of blueberries specifically for their high levels of antioxidants – and you can add controlling inflammation to the list. (30)
16. Flax Seeds
Flax seeds have tons of – you guessed it – antioxidants that help to prevent inflammation and keep you healthy. They’ve also got a polyphenol called lignin, which helps to fight against aging, keep your cells healthy, and help your hormones stay in balance. (31)
In addition, it also helps to keep the biome in your stomach healthy, which keeps your digestion going strong and helps prevent conditions like candida. (32)
To get the full nutritional benefit of flax seeds, consume them as ground flax seeds, so that your body can break them down and get all the nutrients in them.
The Worst Inflammatory Foods To Cut Out Of Your Diet
As you might have guessed, several of the staple foods in the typical North American diet are actually huge culprits when it comes to increasing inflammation and causing an inflammatory response in the body.
One of the biggest culprits is refined carbohydrates and sugars. They’re present in truly incredible quantities in processed foods, and it’s no surprise that processed foods are among the worst foods that cause more inflammation.
Try eating more whole grains rather than refined carbohydrates in your diet. If you can, replace them entirely with whole grains and see if you suffer from less inflammation.
The Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods
- Green tea
- Dark chocolate
- Chia seeds
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Wild salmon
- Bok choy
- Coconut oil
- Flax seeds