By Mark Richards, CMT
Quite simply, inflammation is a biological response in the body to harmful stimuli; such as pathogens, damaged cells or irritants. It is a natural response that facilitates healing. However, when chronic inflammation occurs, it can cause a host of other more serious diseases; such as hay fever, atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and even some cancers.
Below is some of the highest rated anti-inflammatory foods according to SelfNutritionData.com. As with any dietary changes, please consult your doctor to determine what works best for you.
- Serrano peppers – just a bit hotter than the jalapeño pepper, this pepper is Numero Uno when it comes to fighting inflammation in the body. It can be eaten raw or in pico de gallo! For a little less heat, try adding some tabasco sauce to some of your favorite foods.
- Garlic powder – a more concentrated form of garlic (1/8th teaspoon = 1 clove), this flavorful condiment has medicinal properties dating back to the ancient Egyptians! Very versatile, it can be used in most dishes to add a little anti-inflammatory flavor.
- Ground ginger root – this spice ranks close behind garlic. Another spice with medicinal properties, ginger root has been used for centuries in Asian countries. It is also well-known for aiding in the lowering of cholesterol.
- Turmeric – another popular spice, this time from South Asia and the Middle East; turmeric is popular in Ayurvedic practices for treating inflammation, but also irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders.
- Acerola juice – a one-two punch, both high in vitamin C and anti-inflammatory properties; this cherry-type fruit found in Mexico, Central and South America is now making it into the Asia, India and the U.S.
- Salmon – high in Omega-3 fatty acids, this popular fish is a powerhouse when it comes to reducing inflammation in the body. Be sure to include some type of oily fish (trout, mackerel) in your diet once or twice a week.
- Kale – chock full of anti-oxidants and calcium, this distant cousin of the cabbage from Europe actually is pretty well known for it’s anti-cancer properties as well!
- Curry powder – found in many South Asian cuisines, this condiment is actually a blend of spices including turmeric and sometimes garlic and ginger. Definitely a tasty way to fight inflammation!
- Spinach – this vegetable, which is also high in anti-oxidants and iron, was good enough for Popeye so why not add it to your diet to help fight off inflammation!
- Onions – “hold the onions”, NO! Along with their anti-inflammatory properties; in preliminary studies, increased consumption of onions have been found to reduce the risk of head and neck cancers.
In addition to adding some of these items to your diet, it is important to subtract highly inflammatory foods such as junk food, high-fat meats, sugar and highly processed foods. As always, check with a nutritionist or your doctor before making radical changes to your diet.
For more information on specific foods and their possible anti-inflammatory properties, check out the informational website: http://nutritiondata.self.com/. Their IF-rating system details the levels of inflammation for a large variety of foods.