These days, there’s a lot of discussion about anti-inflammatory diets. But what does inflammation have to do with food? The fact is, the choices you make at the grocery store and the meals you eat can actually cause inflammation. And while inflammation is a normal response to infection or injury, you need to be cautious about inflammation that could spread throughout your body — because when left unchecked, it could lead to more serious chronic conditions over time.
Chronic inflammation is a generalized, low-grade inflammatory response to foods that put stress on your blood vessels and body tissues. It can contribute to health issues like cardiovascular disease, clogged arteries, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), asthma and even gum disease.
What’s more, as a by-product of normal metabolism and of the immune system breaking down, bacteria, viruses or irritants (i.e., free radicals) may be created. These free radicals can cause tissue damage and irritation.
Benefits of anti-inflammatory foods
You can help ward off inflammation and manage free radicals by eating anti-inflammatory foods rich in vitamins A, C and E (like many foods found in the Mediterranean diet). Consider fruits, vegetables and other great plant-based options like beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Rather than taking supplements which aren’t as beneficial, make sure to eat a rainbow of real, colorful foods.
Foods that power up your diet:
- Raspberries, strawberries and blackberries are all great sources of vitamin C. Blueberries offer great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.
- Tomatoes contain lycopene and pack a powerful punch against free radicals and cancer.
- Broccoli contains sulforaphane, one of the more powerful compounds in fighting cancer. Other cruciferous vegetables (i.e., cabbage, kale, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, collards) are all great detoxifying foods.
- Canned pumpkin is super easy to add to soups, morning shakes or oatmeal and provides huge doses of carotenoids.