We’ve previously shared how a diet that includes anti-inflammatory foods like vegetables, berries, healthy proteins and fats, and probiotics can improve your health. Very simply put, inflammation is when your body’s immune system reacts to an irritant. That irritant may be a pathogen- a virus, bacteria, or fungi. An irritant may be external, like a bee sting or broken bone. But, it may also be diseases or medical conditions. Over the long-term, inflammation from medical issues can lead to chronic diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, bowel diseases like Chrohn’s disease, cancer, heart disease, and more. Apart from helping reduce the risk of these health concerns, anti-inflammatory foods may also help you lose weight. While there haven’t yet been any studies done specifically on the weight-loss benefits of anti inflammatory foods, anecdotal evidence supports that weight loss often follows when people shift to a diet full of anti-inflammatory foods.
It’s no surprise though, when you consider the foods that help reduce inflammation. They are all nutrient dense, low calorie foods that are not processed. Processed foods have been shown to not only increase the risk of all-cause mortality, but are also often packed with unhealthy saturated fats, high levels of sodium, and sugar, all of which increase inflammation, in addition to causing other health concerns. When you shift to foods that are anti-inflammatory, you’ll often find that this coincides with eating fewer processed foods, decreasing the levels of inflammatory ingredients that you consume.
Often referred to as part of diets like the Mediterranean diet,or a whole foods diet, anti-inflammatory foods include:
- vegetables (especially dark, leafy greens like kale, collards, and spinach)
- fruits like berries
- healthy fats, including olive oil, seeds, nuts, and avocados
- pasture raised sources of lean protein, including chicken and pork (sources show that pasture raised animals have higher levels of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and lower levels of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids than corn-fed animals).
- additional sources of healthy fats like fish, seeds, and nuts
- fiber-rich foods with pre-biotics like chia seeds, oats, garlic, and bananas
- pro-biotic rich foods like yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha
- certain herbs and spices like turmeric, garlic, ginger, and sage
Shifting to a diet that includes anti-inflammatory foods will benefit your wellness substantially. Apart from the added benefit of dropping some weight due to reducing unhealthy, processed foods and reducing sugar intake, anti-inflammatory foods help your digestive health, stave off serious issues like heart disease, decrease the risk of certain cancers, helps fight obesity, and some studies even show that maintaining decreased levels of inflammation may prevent Alzheimer’s disease. All these benefits, and more, all make the case for the importance of including a variety of anti-inflammatory foods and drinks into your daily routine.
Inflammation is often linked to increased pain levels, a topic that we’ve explored extensively over many posts. Below we’ve linked a variety of those posts for you to further explore why certain foods impact inflammation levels and how monitoring what you eat can improve pain levels.