One of the best ways to alleviate inflammation isn’t in your medicine cabinet, but in your refrigerator. According to an article published in, “Harvard Health”, the cause of inflammation is when your body attacks anything that it recognizes as foreign – an invading microbe, plant pollen, or chemical. Many major diseases that plague us, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s, have also been linked to chronic inflammation.
One of the most powerful tools to combat inflammation comes not from the pharmacy, but from the grocery store. Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health says, “Many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects.”
Choose the right foods, and you may be able to reduce your risk of illness. Consistently pick the wrong ones, and you could accelerate the inflammatory disease process.
What Not to Eat
To keep discomfort at bay, avoid:
- Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
- French fries and other fried foods
- soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
- red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
- margarine, shortening, and lard
Just as there are foods that create inflammation, there are also a number that can significantly reduce or prevent inflammation and chronic disease. Dr. Hu notes that particular fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, apples, and leafy greens, are high in natural antioxidants and polyphenols—protective compounds that occur naturally in plants.
What to eat
Include plenty of these anti-inflammatory foods in your diet:
- olive oil
- green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards
- nuts like almonds and walnuts
- fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna
- fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, and oranges
To reduce levels of inflammation, aim for an overall healthy diet. If you’re looking for an eating plan that closely follows the tenets of anti-inflammatory eating, consider the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils.
Next month we will discuss supplements that reduce inflammatory discomfort in the body.