Due to a large body of ever-growing research, it has become widely known today that the root of many of our health problems lies in chronic inflammation.
Inflammation is the natural response of the immune system to a threat – either real or perceived – which is characterized by a swelling of the body’s tissues and joints.
With all of the talk nowadays about the evils of inflammation, it is easy to assume that this process is entirely negative. However, in the short term, it is a necessary immunological function, as it helps the body defend against an invasion. However, when it becomes chronic, and is not allowed to subside, a breakdown of the body’s systems begins to occur.
Chronic inflammation can be triggered, and sustained, by a number of factors, including prolonged stress, illness, injury, and eating a diet high in sugar, wheat or processed ingredients. If left unchecked, it can lead to the weakening of the immune system, which makes you more susceptible to infections, and may also lead to chronic illnesses including heart disease and cancers.
It can also be the underlying factor in a host of other health problems, such as acne, autoimmune illnesses ranging from eczema to arthritis, hypertension, digestive imbalances and systemic Candida (yeast) infections. Chronic inflammation is also thought to be a main player behind premature aging.
While the key to avoiding chronic inflammation is eating a healthy diet of whole – preferably organic – foods, getting regular exercise and controlling your stress levels, there are some delicious, raw ingredients that can kick the anti-inflammatory powers of your diet up several notches.
The following are eight of top choices:
This succulent tropical fruit contains an enzyme known as bromelain, which has been found to have potent anti-inflammatory properties. Bromelain has been found by a body of research to help ease inflammatory pain, such as from osteoarthritis, with even greater efficacy than common NSAID medications.
Thanks to its bromelain content, and other antioxidants such as vitamin C, pineapple can help to ease sinus inflammation during a cold, and also soothe sore muscles after a workout, along with helping to keep chronic inflammation from taking hold.
Garlic has been used since ancient times to both treat and help ward off a range of chronic illnesses, thanks to its antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory nature. Much of garlic’s anti-inflammatory powers can be attributed to the presence of allicin, a compound which has been found to reduce the body’s production of inflammatory cytokines. The anti-inflammatory properties of this delicious bulb are especially pronounced when eaten raw.
Onions are loaded with antioxidants, including a flavonoid antioxidant known as quercetin. Quercetin has been shown to possess strong anti-inflammatory properties, as it helps to prevent the oxidation of fatty acids. This process in turn leads to fewer pro-inflammatory molecules produced in the body. Much of the flavonoids in onions are concentrated in the outer layers.
Additionally, onions contain allium, an organosulfur compound which has been linked to aiding in the prevention of system-wide inflammation.
Ginger has been used since ancient times in traditional Ayurvedic remedies for combating inflammation. This rhizome is rich in antioxidants, including gingerols, which pack a powerful anti-inflammatory punch. Ginger root has been found to be effective in mitigating chronic pain from inflammatory conditions, and also in reducing the cytokines released by the immune system which can lead to inflammation.
Cherries, especially tart cherries, are rich in antioxidant compounds, including inflammation-reducing, immune boosting vitamin C. Tart cherries and tart cherry juice have been found to be effective in reducing the frequency of gout attacks, and for minimizing inflammatory muscle pain after strenuous exercise.
While many types of berries are rich in anti-inflammatory antioxidant compounds, blueberries rank among the highest. They contain anthocyanins, the pigments responsible for their deep hue, which have been linked to lowering oxidative stress, improving cognitive function, protecting cardiovascular health and aiding in cancer prevention.
These little berries have also been found to reduce markers of inflammation in individuals with metabolic syndrome. Additionally, like onions, they are a source of anti-inflammatory quercetin.
Many cruciferous veggies have been found to be key components in an anti-inflammatory diet, however, kale is one of the stars. There have been more than 45 individual flavonoid antioxidants identified in kale, including quercetin and kaempferol. These antioxidants work to combat oxidative stress and inflammation throughout the body.
Kale also contains glucosinolates, compounds with noteworthy links to cancer prevention. Additionally, kale aids the body’s detoxification processes, which are important in flushing out inflammatory substances, such as those accumulated from processed foods.
Oranges, and other citrus fruits, are a rich source of vitamin C, which is known to reduce respiratory and sinus inflammation, along with supporting the immune system. The carotenoid antioxidants found in oranges, such as vitamin A, have been linked to a lower risk of inflammatory conditions including rheumatoid arthritis.
Chronic inflammation can be seriously debilitating and should not be taken lightly. Adding these eight foods to a healthy lifestyle may significantly help in keeping this scourge from compromising your health.