Foods that Fight Inflammation
Author: Millennia TEA’s Official Science Steeper - Allison Tannis, MSc RHN
Inflammation (Why It’s Probably What’s Wrong with You): 6 Science-backed Foods that Fight Inflammation
It’s possible that what’s wrong with you is caused by inflammation – meaning you could really use some foods that fight inflammation in your diet. Yes, inflammation could be causing that reoccurring headache you struggle with, constant feeling of fatigue, or even your digestive distress. Scientific evidence suggests there are many effective ways you can naturally reduce inflammation in your body, with the help of certain nutrients you can find in common foods. And, it’s worth it! Studies show, worldwide, 3 out of 5 people die due to diseases that develop from chronic inflammatory diseases, such as stroke, chronic respiratory diseases, heart disorders, cancer, obesity, and diabetes.
Symptoms Associated with Inflammation
- Stiffness or pain
- Depression, anxiety, mood disorders
- Gut disruptions (diarrhea, constipation, acid reflux)
- Weight gain/loss
- Frequent infections
- Trouble concentrating
Why Inflammation May Be What’s Wrong with You
Low-grade inflammation may be occurring in your body without you realizing it’s the culprit to your mild symptoms. Fatigue, for example, is a common consequence of low-grade inflammation, according to research. The problem with inflammation is that whether acute or chronic, it can result in the decline in the health of your cardiovascular system and the gut, as well as affect cognitive function. The solution is to promote the resolution of inflammation. That involves what researchers call anti-inflammatory mediators, but us everyday folks know it as healthy fats, and polyphenols. In fact, micronutrients in fruits, vegetables, spices, seeds, wine, and tea are being investigated for their potential benefits against inflammation.
What is the Best Natural Way to Reduce Inflammation in the Body?
The power of food is impressive, and the body of evidence supporting the benefits of nutrients found in many plant foods is growing daily. From fibers to helpful fats, good bacteria to flavonoids, here are the best nutrients that help fight inflammation, and which foods to find them in.
6 Foods that Fight Inflammation Naturally that are Backed by Science
- Whole grain cereals
- Leafy Greens
Best Foods that Fight Inflammation
Here’s a closer look at 6 foods that scientific research shows fight inflammation.
Pour yourself a cup of tea, and let’s talk polyphenols. Studies suggest polyphenols are the most potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents among natural compounds. There are different types of polyphenols in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, herbs, spices, and plant-based beverages, such as wine and tea. There’s additional interest in polyphenols as anti-inflammatories as there are fewer unwanted effects than common drugs. The primary polyphenols in tea are called flavonoids. Tea leaves contain a lot of flavan-3-ols, such as epigallocatechin 3-gallate (EGCG) – the most famous antioxidant in green tea. EGCG is highly active in the body, exciting researchers in its ability to fight inflammation. You can find EGCG in the leaves of the tea plant. Of note, the way a tea leaf is treated after it is picked influences how much EGCG is present. Fresh tea leaves have the highest amount of EGCG. If you want to fight inflammation naturally the best way would be to eat fresh tea leaves.
Another polyphenol that helps fight inflammation is quercetin, a type of flavonol. You can find quercetin in a variety of foods, including berries, apples, grapes, wine, onions, tea, tomatoes, nuts, and seeds. Some of the best places to find quercetin include the outer layers of red onions, closest to the roots, and organically grown tomatoes (79% more quercetin than chemically grown tomatoes). Apples, onions, and green tea are not only the most common foods we eat that contain quercetin, they are also amongst the richest sources of this long-lasting inflammation-fighting nutrient. Yes, research suggests that quercetin has the ability to fight inflammation, and its effects last longer than some other foods.
Flavanones are another group of polyphenols, with some impressive members, including hesperidin, which is found in citrus fruits, such as lemons, oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines. Studies suggest that hesperidin has anti-inflammatory effects, likely by influencing some of the signalings that occurs in the inflammatory pathway.
Isoflavones are a polyphenol that also fights inflammation. Isoflavones, such as genistein, are most famously found in soybeans. Genistein has been noted in research studies to be linked with anti-inflammatory processes. In particular, researchers suggest that genistein’s ability to fight inflammation is thanks to its ability to influence how a type of immune cell, called a natural killer cell, behaves.
Why are blueberries always on the list of foods for inflammation? It’s because of the abundance of anthocyanidins they contain. Anthocyanidins are another polyphenol that fights inflammation. Epidemiological studies associate regular, moderate intake of blueberries and/or anthocyanins with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, death, and type 2 diabetes, and with improved weight maintenance and neuroprotection. Evidence suggests it’s the anti-inflammatory abilities of blueberries that make their health impact so impressive.
What is the Main Cause of Inflammation in the Body?
There are many causes including stress, pesticides, preservatives, trans/saturated fats, and sugar. However, some researchers have a gut instinct on where you may want to focus your attention. Interactions between the microbes that live in your gut and your body are extensive, and it has a profound impact on the development and maintenance of the mucosal immune system (the part of the immune system that lines the intestinal tract). Let’s geek out about that a bit: some bacteria in your gut microbiota can produce something called lipopolysaccharides (a fat-sugar compound) that is a potent trigger of inflammation. An inflamed gut has trouble with permeability, allowing some of these potent inflammatory triggers to enter the body – researchers think gut health may be a major cause of inflammation.
Whole Grain Cereals
Evidence, suggests that eating whole-grain cereals (complex carbohydrates) improves the health of the gut, through feeding the good microbes (probiotics) that live there. Many probiotics enjoy the presence of these whole grains, enhancing the amount of short-chain fatty acids they produce. This benefits your gut, as the presence of more short-chain fatty acids is linked to better gut health. What exactly is a whole grain cereal? Oat bran is a great example – it’s rich in dietary fiber. Typical Western-style diets tend to lack these whole-grain cereals, instead are high in refined carbohydrates, such as sugar and white flour.
Are You Ready to Eat More Foods that Fight Inflammation?
It’s easier than you think to eat more inflammation-fighting foods throughout your day. Based on laboratory analysis, there’s a whopping 15x more EGCG in your fresh tea leaves from Millennia Tea you’ve steeped to make that cup of tea than you find in your traditional cup of tea. Don’t toss those steeped leaves in the compost! Add them to your smoothie, salad dressing, salsa, stew, soup, or chili for a great anti-inflammatory boost to your next meal.
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