Inflammation and anti-inflammatory foods: Everything you need to know

Like antioxidants, gluten, and all-natural, “inflammation” is a buzzword that many people use without understanding what it means. 

Contrary to what you may have heard, inflammation is a natural response your body uses to protect you. It’s true, however, that too much of it can be a bad thing.

Today we’re going to look at exactly what inflammation is and isn’t, as well as at some foods that can help deal with excess amounts of it.

Read on to learn more. 

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is a process your body uses to fight off viruses, bacteria, and any other outside invader that seeks to do it harm. 

Inflammation comes in two varieties: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation goes away in a matter of hours or days, while chronic inflammation can last for years. 

How it can affect your health

Chronic inflammation is a problem since it can cause your immune system to think there’s a problem when there isn’t. To fight off the perceived problem, it will then damage your body.

Because of that response, chronic inflammation has ties to many health conditions. Some of these include:

 

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Asthma

Chronic inflammation is the type that most people try to treat. 

Diet is everything

Aside from viruses and bacteria, inflammation can come from many other sources, like stress, low activity levels, and certain foods. 

That said, many foods can also help combat inflammation.

Here are some of the top anti-inflammatory foods. 

Berries

Many health experts consider berries to be a superfood, and it’s no wonder why. They come loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients.

Given their high antioxidant levels, they’re also helpful for treating high levels of inflammation (1). 

You can snack on strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and others in many ways. Try adding them to oatmeal, cereal, or salads. 

Broccoli

Broccoli is one of the most nutritious vegetables. Like cauliflower and kale, it’s a cruciferous vegetable.

Studies show that adding cruciferous vegetables to your diet can help decrease your chances of developing cancer, heart disease, and other conditions (2).

Avocados

Avocados are another so-called superfood. Like berries, they’re also one of the few foods that might actually deserve that title.

From magnesium and fiber to monounsaturated fats and potassium, avocados have (just about) it all. 

They also contain compounds that might help reduce inflammation levels (3).  

Try eating avocado with eggs, on toast, or in a salad. 

Dark chocolate

Chocolate connoisseurs will be thrilled to hear that dark chocolate is another anti-inflammatory food. It comes loaded with antioxidants which can help lower inflammation, as well as encourage your body to age more healthily (4).

To get the most out of dark chocolate, make sure that it contains at least 70% cocoa. The higher, the better!

Green tea

If you’re not a tea drinker, try giving green tea a go. It’s cheap, delicious, and one of the healthiest beverages you can drink.

Green tea can help reduce your risk of everything from Alzheimer’s Disease to cancer (5, 6). Its high antioxidant levels can also help combat inflammation. 

Inflammation: The truth

While inflammation might not be the boogeyman that some people make it out to be, high levels of it for extended periods can be detrimental to your health. 

Try adding some of the anti-inflammatory foods mentioned in this guide to your diet to help your body feel its best.

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