My cousin recently describe feeling “puffy” because she hadn’t stuck to her anti-inflammatory diet that day. Do foods that are known as anti-inflammatory really impact us that noticeably? The truth is, the benefits of eating anti-inflammatory foods is less noticeable than my cousin’s perception of it. “Anti-inflammatory” is a word that’s begun to get thrown around quite a bit, but what does it really mean? Inflammation is our body responding with pain, redness, swelling or heat to injury and infection. While a normal, harmless response in the short-term, when inflammation triggers are ongoing or chronic, this can be problematic. Chronic inflammation is associated with increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.
Choosing anti-inflammatory foods may help reduce our risk of chronic disease. What are these foods and what are some practical ways to incorporate them into your daily routine?
Fish and algae are the absolute best sources of omega-3s. There are a few types of omega-3s and fish contains the specific omega-3 fatty acids that help with inflammation.
Green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, collard greens, and romaine lettuce to name a few) are antioxidant-rich. Antioxidants help delay and repair some types of cell damage caused by inflammation.
A solid source of the good fats that help offset our intake of saturated fats that can contribute to inflammation. Nuts are also antioxidant-rich.
Rich in Vitamin-C, berries are a great source of antioxidants. Add berries to your cereal or smoothie to help prevent inflammation.
Olive oil is a healthy fat that helps stop inflammation. Use it as much as possible when cooking (with max temperature of 400 degrees Fahrenheit).
Incorporating more of these foods will help fight inflammation. If your diet is low in fish, green leafy vegetables, nuts, berries or olive oil, look for substitutions you can make in food you already eat. You can stock your inflammation arsenal by replacing your cooking oil with olive oil, including nuts with your snack, adding berries to your salad, and eating fish twice a week.
Meaghan Ormsby, MS, RD is a Seattle dietitian who promotes eating well & keeping it real @ Kitchen Toolz