Anti-Inflammatory foods have been all the rage this year – but why? In this article, we break down what an anti-inflammatory is, what foods they are found in, and how you can easily incorporate some into your family’s diet.
Health and Inflammation
Chronic inflammation plays a significant role in many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s disease, heart disease, cancer, and strokes. Although in some instances, accompanying pain may make inflammation readily detectable, other instances of inflammation may go unnoticed. Poor diet, chronic disease, lack of exercise, stress, the consumption of highly processed foods, and even lack of sleep, can cause inflammation.
A substance with anti-inflammatory properties reduces inflammation. Common anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) include aspirin and ibuprofen. Traditionally, such medicines are taken after inflammation-associated discomfort arises, for example, by an injury or noticeable headache.
Health Benefits of Anti-inflammatory Foods
Abundant evidence suggests that consistently consuming anti-inflammatory foods can prevent and reduce inflammation in the first place, improving overall health. Anti-inflammatory foods are more common than you may think, and can be easy to incorporate into your family’s diet.
Common Anti-Inflammatory Foods:
-Omega-3 Fatty Acids (salmon, tuna, flax seed, walnuts, olive oil)
-Lean Proteins (fish, white meat poultry, beans)
-Leafy Green Vegetables
-Dark Chocolate, Cocoa, and Cacao (made from cold-pressed unroasted cocoa beans)
Inflammation-Promoting Foods (best to consume only in moderation):
-Omega-6 Fatty Acids (vegetable oils, processed packaged foods, fast foods)
-Trans Fats/Partially Hydrogenated Oil (fried foods, packaged cookies and crackers, margarine)
-Refined Carbohydrates (such as packaged foods, white sugar, white flour, baked goods, candy, etc.)
Behaviors to Reduce Inflammation
A variety of habits and activities can also help reduce inflammation:
-Reduce stress (get outside, try meditation or yoga, practice breathing, stretch, go for a walk, enjoy a hobby)
-Treat yourself to a massage
-Get at least 6 hours of quality, restful sleep each night
-Exercise several times per week, ideally for 30-45 minutes at a time. Activities that keep the heart elevated for an extended period are examples of healthy exercise, such as a bike ride, rigorous walk, jog, soccer game, or resistance training.
Incorporating a few of these foods and habits into your week can make a world of difference in long-term health. Start slow, and move forward from there!