While the word “inflammation” usually has a negative connotation, the truth is, it’s often the body’s way of protecting us from greater harm. When the body becomes sick or injured, our immune system gets to work, bringing in reinforcements in the form of white blood cells. These extra white blood cells travel to the ill or injured area to increase blood flow, which can cause swelling, heat, redness and even pain.
So why does inflammation get a bad rep?
In a healthy body, inflammation is a normal immune response that aids in the process of healing, but it’s also possible for the immune system to overreact and attack healthy cells. This is the case in those who suffer from arthritis, fibromyalgia, celiac disease and irritable bowel disease. Inflammation has also been known to worsen other illnesses, creating inflamed airways in those with asthma and affecting insulin resistance in those with diabetes.
The good news is, you can help your body fight inflammation with just a few tweaks in your diet. Staying away from heavily processed foods and instead filling your diet with fresh fruits, vegetables and omega-3 foods can help reduce inflammation by giving your body the minerals, antioxidants and essential fatty acids that it needs to regulate the immune system and stay healthy.
Adding these seven anti-inflammatory foods to your diet can help repair your body naturally and keep inflammation at bay:
Pineapple contains a digestive enzyme known as bromelain, which has been shown to fight blood clotting and reduce inflammation. Bromelain helps to regulate immune response, keeping inflammation from occurring unless absolutely necessary.
Beets are rich in antioxidants that help repair cell damage caused by inflammation. The antioxidant known as betalain gives beets their vibrant color, and is a known anti-inflammatory. Beets also contain magnesium, which is often scarce in those with inflammatory conditions.
3. Dark, Leafy Greens
Green, leafy vegetables tend to be rich in vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron and phytochemicals that help fight illness. The fiber in greens also helps to regulate the body and reduce inflammation. If you have a hard time eating your leafy greens, try throwing them into a smoothie!
The active anti-inflammatory component in turmeric is known as curcumin. Studies have shown that curcumin is far more effective than many anti-inflammatory drugs, including aspirin and ibuprofen, proving that a natural approach to fighting inflammation may be much more beneficial.
Blueberries contain a strong antioxidant known as quercetin. Quercetin is a flavonoid that has been shown to fight inflammation while protecting the body from oxidative stress. Regularly snacking on blueberries can help keep inflammation at bay.
6. Green Tea
Green tea has excellent anti-inflammatory properties thanks to the amazing antioxidants it contains. One of the most potent substances in green tea is a polyphenol known as epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG. EGCG has been studied for its role in protecting against cellular damage, blocking free radicals and reducing the overproduction of inflammatory substances in the body.