25 foods that fight inflammation in the body




Think about this! A harmful bacteria invade your body through a cut on your finger! What would your body do or how would it react to it? If a foreign invader invades the body (in this case a harmful bacteria) the immune system will produce a reaction in order to fight that foreign invader off. The response of our bodies to the stimuli is known as inflammation. Our immune system protects us from harmful invading organisms it's our defense against harmful pathogens.

So, therefore, inflammation is necessary for our survival. It defends/protects us from harmful pathogens and is also involved in the wound healing process. Harmful pathogen and injury will not only trigger inflammation. Autoimmune diseases, chemicals, oxidative stress and so on will also trigger inflammation.


Did you know that inflammation can be both good and harmful? So while it's essential for our survival it can play a role in many diseases which will be listed below.


When the immune system fights against its own healthy cells in the body then that can lead to horrible consequences like:
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Crohn's disease
  • Alzheimer's
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Celiac disease

Types of inflammation

They are:
Acute inflammation - Lasts for a few days
Chronic inflammation - Lasts for months or years


Causes of inflammation

Some causes of inflammation are:
  • Pathogens (bacteria, virus)
  • Stress
  • Certain foods and drinks
  • Food allergies

Symptoms of inflammation
Three symptoms of inflammation are redness, warmth, and swelling.




25 foods that fight inflammation in the body


1. salmon


Image via pixabay.



2. tuna


Tuna sandwich. Image via pixabay.


3. sardines


Image via pixabay.


4. mackerel


Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation (1, 2, 3). Salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel are all fatty fishes that are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. For those of who are vegetarian or vegan, you can consume other (plant) sources of omega-3 fatty acids like:

5. algae
6. nut oils
7. walnuts


Walnuts. Image via pixabay.


8. flaxseeds
9. chia seeds

Chia seeds. Image via pixabay.


10. pumpkin seeds

Image via pixabay.


There are three main omega-3 fatty acids (polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids) that are found in foods. They are:
  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish whereas ALA is found in plants. Interestingly fish obtain DHA and EPA from algae.




Blueberries, citrus fruits, green tea, dark chocolate, and parsley are all examples of dietary sources of flavonoids. Flavonoids belong to the polyphenol class of phytonutrients and they are anti-inflammatory

Cytokines and chemokines are proteins that are produced by the immune system. These proteins result in chronic inflammation but flavonoids can inhibit certain steps within the pathway hence they can serve as natural inhibitors of inflammation (4).


11. blueberries


Blueberries. Image via pixabay.


12. citrus fruits


Image via pixabay.


13. green tea (5)


Image via pixabay.

 
14. dark chocolate

Image via pixabay.


15. parsley


Image via pixabay.




16. Oyster mushrooms (6)
17. Reishi

Mushrooms are edible fungi. There are many health benefits of mushrooms. Mushrooms contain the anti-inflammatory compounds polysaccharides, terpenoids, and phenolics which provide anti-inflammatory effects (7).

Oyster mushrooms are great in stir-fries.


Dark green leafy vegetables like:

18. kale


Kale. Image via pixabay.


19. broccoli

Image via pixabay.





and

20. spinach


Image via pixabay.




Some anti-inflammatory nutrients that kale, broccoli, and spinach contain are omega-3 fatty acids, the anti-inflammatory phytonutrients: flavonoids and carotenoids and antioxidants.


The relationship between free radical and antioxidants

What is a free radical and how are they created?


In the body, oxygen splits into single atoms which results in what we call free radicals. A free radical contains one or more unpaired electrons in their outer orbitals and that makes them very reactive/unstable. One thing that was very clear from the years that I have studied chemistry is that electrons like to be in pairs. So they are going to search the body for other electrons to pair with because in order for it to become stable it will have to react with other molecules to pair that electron with.


Free radicals can react with all the cell molecular components of the body. When that happens a second radical will be generated and in turn will react and so on. In other words, free radicals can start a chain reaction. What makes them dangerous is that excessive free radicals can damage cellular components like proteins, enzymes, DNA, cell membrane and so on when they react with them. When that happens these cells may not function well and die. If cellular damage occurs it can lead to a variety of diseases.

The damages that free radicals cause causes inflammation which will, in turn, lead to more free radicals.


Antioxidants are so beneficial because they can interact with free radicals safely and stop the chain reaction and thus prevent cell damage. Antioxidants repair the damage that is caused to our cells by free radicals. Vegetables like kale, broccoli, and spinach are full of the antioxidants vitamin A, C, and K.

Broccoli contains sulforaphane. What is sulforaphane? Sulforaphane is an organic compound that contains sulfur as the name suggests. You cannot directly get this compound from the broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables without a process.

Broccoli contains glucoraphanin and the enzyme myrosinase which when come into contact will produce sulforaphane. They will get into contact when you cut or chew the broccoli. How is this compound related to inflammation? Sulforaphane fights inflammation!




21. Watermelon

Watermelon has a high water content and is low in calories. Watermelon is also rich in phytonutrients. Examples of phytonutrients that watermelon is a source of are:
  • Carotenoids (such as beta-carotene which is a type of carotenoid)
  • Lycopene - Lycopene gives watermelon its red color.

These phytonutrients are anti-inflammatory antioxidants which reduce inflammation and fight free radicals.

This juicy fruit is also rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. It is an antioxidant because it donates an electron and so it neutralizes free radicals.



Watermelon. Image via pixabay.




22. Bone broth


Image via pixabay.


Bone broth fights inflammation due to its nutrient content. Processed foods, antibiotics and so on can damage our intestinal lining. Gelatin is found in bone broth and it repairs the gut lining and thus reduce inflammation. Proline and glycine also found in bone broth can also heal the gut lining.

Another nutrient that is found in bone broth is glucosamine and it can also reduce inflammation.

Read more on bone broth: Bone broth - What it is, the health benefits and recipes


23. Beets


Beets. Image via pixabay.


Beets are a source of the phytonutrients betalains. The two categories of betalains found are betanin and vulgaxanthin. Together with the antioxidants manganese and vitamin C they reduce inflammation and fight free radicals.

Additionally, betalain pigments give beets their red color.




24. Turmeric


Turmeric. Image via pixabay.


Turmeric is a spice that Indians use in their cooking (An Indian home will always have turmeric!). It gives their food a yellow color. Turmeric contains curcumin and that's what makes this spice so beneficial to us. Curcumin helps with inflammation and it's a great antioxidant.
 
 Aside from putting it in your food, you can add it to your smoothies, teas, and milk.



 25. Avocados


Image via pixabay.



Avocados contain phytosterols, vitamin E and C, magnesium, selenium, and zinc which makes it a great addition to your meals. Avocados have excellent anti-inflammatory properties.

There are so many ways that you can incorporate avocados into your diet! You can add them to smoothies, sandwiches, salads, desserts and so on.



Concluding Remarks
There are so many other foods that are not listed here that fight inflammation in the body that you can also incorporate into your diet. They are so simple to incorporate, you can even put them in smoothies. Try some for your next meal!





 References


1. El-Seweidy M.M., Ali S.I., Elsweify S.E., Ali A.A., Mashhour M.M. Omega 3 fatty acids intake versus diclofenac in osteoarthritis induced in experimental rats. Functional Foods in Health and Disease 2017; 7(4); 291-302

2. Alessio Molfino, Maria Ida Amabile, Massimo Monti, and Maurizio Muscaritoli, “Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Critical Illness: Anti-Inflammatory, Proresolving, or Both?,” Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, vol. 2017, Article ID 5987082, 6 pages, 2017. doi:10.1155/2017/5987082

3. Xue B, Yang Z, Wang X, Shi H (2012) Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Antagonize Macrophage Inflammation via Activation of AMPK/SIRT1 Pathway. PLoS ONE 7(10): e45990. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045990


5. Reygaert, W.C. An Update on the Health Benefits of Green Tea. Beverages 2017, 3, 6.


7. Elsayed A. Elsayed, Hesham El Enshasy, Mohammad A. M. Wadaan, and Ramlan Aziz, “Mushrooms: A Potential Natural Source of Anti-Inflammatory Compounds for Medical Applications,” Mediators of Inflammation, vol. 2014, Article ID 805841, 15 pages, 2014. doi:10.1155/2014/805841

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