Inflammation is a natural reaction by the body against infection or injury. It’s caused by a wide range of issues, including infection, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune diseases, or even bug bites and stings. Chronic inflammation can even lead to serious illnesses such as heart disease, so you need to take it seriously if you start experiencing it. When it comes to living a healthy life, eating a diet that reduces inflammation will help you feel better and stay healthier as you get older. Here we’ll take a look at the best anti-inflammatory foods and some of the best anti-inflammatory diets.
Best Foods to Fight Inflammation
When it comes to anti-inflammatory foods, you’ll find that they follow common trends that other health diets follow, including lots of nutrient-dense foods and low amounts of processed foods or refined sugars. Here are some of the top foods to consume if you’re trying to fight inflammation:
- Fatty fish
- Dark chocolate
- Broccoli and cauliflower
- Sweet potatoes
- Collard greens
If you think you’ve seen this eating style before, you’re not wrong. Many of these foods are included in all of the diets on this list, with some adjustments and exceptions.
The Mediterranean diet has long been synonymous with healthy eating and weight loss. That’s because it works to include many of the items listed under our best foods list, and it typically consists of lots of fruits, vegetables, fatty fish, whole grains, olive oils, nuts, and seeds. People living around the Mediterranean Sea have followed this diet for many years, opening up the eating plan to nutritional and dietary studies – especially in comparison to people who follow a Western diet. It’s been shown to protect against diseases typically linked to inflammation, from type 2 diabetes to cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Andrew Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Many years ago, integrated medicine doctor Dr. Andrew Weil began researching the importance of anti-inflammatory measures and how they can impact and improve your health. His diet layout is somewhat comparable to the Mediterranean diet, including lots of fatty fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. However, his diet includes Asian influences that add additional health benefits, and it also emphasizes healthy proteins and plant-based foods that help fight inflammation. As with all diets related to anti-inflammatory measures, Dr. Weil restricts the intake of processed foods. With this diet, you should expect to get about 40-50% of your calories from carbohydrates, 30% from fat, and roughly 20-40% from protein.
Experts have long associated eating too much and too often with an increase in inflammation. That’s where intermittent fasting comes into play as far as anti-inflammatory diets. According to cell.com, “Caloric restriction is known to improve inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.” Because the basis of intermittent fasting is to limit your eating window and reduce calories – and to get those calories from healthier food sources – this eating style is making strides in the fight to reduce inflammation.
If you’re interested in intermittent fasting but don’t want to add one more to-do to your daily routine, consider trying out the Prime Women’s Plate app. It was specifically designed for women over 50, and it encourages more protein, adequate nutrient-rich vegetables, minimal fruits, healthy fats, additional calcium, and a drastic reduction in sugar intake. The app also lets you set meal times so you’ll get reminders when it’s your eating window, taking out all the guesswork.
The keto diet has been trending in the last few years because of its wide range of health benefits. By following the keto diet, you put your body into a state of ketosis (a metabolic state in which your body uses fat and ketones rather than glucose (sugar) as its primary fuel source). You do this by getting most of your calories from proteins and fats and limiting the number you get from carbohydrates, meaning you cut back on sugary foods and white bread.
On the keto diet, you limit the number of carbs you ingest in a day to fewer than 50, reducing the blood sugar that your body typically uses for fuel. At this rate, your body eventually runs out (typically 3-4 days), and at this point, you’ll start to break down protein and fat for energy. Once this happens, you might begin to lose weight, which is one of the main reasons this diet has started to trend of late.
However, ketosis also activates the AMPK pathway (activated protein kinase), which assists in regulating energy and inhibiting the inflammatory Nf-kB pathways. This is where the reduction in inflammation comes into play and why the keto diet is so highly regarded for its use in reducing inflammation and helping with other chronic diseases.
The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) was initially developed as a way to lower blood pressure without medicinal intervention. It encourages eating a diet low in sodium and high in calcium, magnesium, fiber, and potassium. Regardless of its original intent, the basic makeup of the diet is so healthy it’s now recognized as being an overall nutritious style of eating, regardless of health history.
You won’t be surprised to hear the foods included in the diet; they’re quite similar to other anti-inflammatory diets on this list (do you see a pattern here?). So, let’s start with what you should limit with this diet: sweets, sugary drinks, and red meat. Instead, you should eat lots of fish, poultry, low-fat dairy, nuts, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Basically, look for naturally-made foods that are low in total fat, cholesterol, and saturated fat.
There are a lot of healthy foods and diet plans available to try out and see which is best for you. One big bonus of the diets we have listed here is that they aren’t terribly restrictive, and the foods that you are supposed to eat (and not eat) aren’t going to surprise you. If you don’t want to follow a diet plan but are looking to reduce inflammation, simply cut out highly processed foods and those high in sugar. Indulge in more fatty fish, fruits, and vegetables. If you want a snack, grab a handful of healthy seeds or nuts. And if your sweet tooth is calling out for attention, go ahead and eat some dark chocolate. When we lay it out like that, reducing inflammation doesn’t sound so hard after all, does it?
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