Posts Tagged ‘5 Foods That Fight Inflammation’

5 Foods to Fight Inflammation

October 9, 2012

Inflammation is a scary word in today’s health and forensic nursing circles. We shun it when we can and dose it with pharmaceuticals when we can’t. Inflammation, however, is simply our bodies’ natural response to an injury or irritation.

“You need to have inflammation when you have a wound,” says Wendy Weber of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, “and the immune system goes in to heal it. Yet we don’t want too much inflammation in our system causing damage to our arteries.” Simply put, inflammation is a healing mechanism; the problem is when it doesn’t go away—because we continue smoking, eating fatty foods, or not exercising. Peter Libby of Harvard Medical School says abdominal fat tissue pours inflammatory molecules—called cytokines—throughout the body, and that’s why exercise and diet are crucial in the fight against chronic inflammation.

The problem with chronic inflammation is that it may lead to a slew of serious conditions, including joint pain, dementia-related illnesses like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and cancer. “Cancer is caused by many different processes and inflammation is one of them,” says Young S. Kim of the Nutritional Science Research Group at the National Cancer Institute. “If you could inhibit that process it would be tremendously helpful.”

Let food be thy medicine, Hippocrates said long before Ibuprofen or steroids like prednisone. Here are 5 anti-inflammatory foods to help fight chronic inflammation.
1. Turmeric, a relative of ginger and a key ingredient in Indian curry, is a powerhouse of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Brew turmeric tea by adding ¼ teaspoon to 3 cups of boiled water and steep for 20 minutes. Add lemon juice or a teaspoon of honey to taste. Note that India has significantly fewer cases of Alzheimer’s than does North America, perhaps in part to turmeric’s compound, curcumin.
2. Wild Salmon and other fish are high in EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), powerful and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Today’s American diet is too high in omega-6 fatty acids (found in refined vegetable oils like corn and soybean oil) and too low in omega-3s. Oily fish like wild-caught salmon (farmed varieties can be harmful for the environment and toxic to our health), anchovies, mackerel, and sardines as well as seeds and nuts like flax and walnuts can help us increase our omega-3 intake.
3. Green tea is practically an art in Japan, the population of which boasted some of the longest and healthiest lives in history until the influx of western food. Green tea is teaming with anti-inflammatory flavonoids which may help reduce risk of some types of cancer and heart disease.
4. Berries, especially blueberries, are high in phytonutrients and fight inflammation and are chock-full of antioxidants. Remember to buy organic whenever possible.
5. Extra virgin olive oil is high in polyphenols and good, anti-inflammatory fats and account for longevity in the Mediterranean region.
Other anti-inflammatory foods include cruciferous vegetables, kelp, medicinal mushrooms like shiitake and maitake, and garlic.
Remember that sugar and white flour are the top inflammatory foods in your pantry. Moreover, eating anti-inflammatory foods alone won’t bring inflammation down to ideal levels. “If you weigh 300 pounds and eat healthy, the weight will still counter any beneficial foods you are eating,” says Harvard professor of medicine Dr. Christopher Cannon. Stress management is also an important aspect of inflammation management.

Kay Winders is presently the resident writer for, where she researches the best way for people to pay off their debts without damaging their credit. In her spare time, she enjoys freelance writing, the beach and gardening.

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