If you’ve ever taken a biology class, you know that the human body is incredible: trillions of cells work together every day to fight off microbes and keep us alive. Inflammation, in its simplest form, is an important part of that process as it protects us from infections and contributes to healing injuries by putting in motion the response from our immune system. This occurs through the mobilization of tissues and cells surrounding an infection or injury which helps our body ward off harmful bacteria and start the healing process. This is what happens when you smash your thumb with a hammer or burn yourself while making pancakes. The swelling and pain that follows go hand in hand with the healing cells that rush to the area. While inflammation can have a beneficial role in day-to-day mishaps like these, it also has drawbacks.When tissues and cells in the body keep getting targeted to certain areas as part of the inflammatory response for prolonged periods of time, we’re talking weeks, months, or even years, it can wreak havoc.
This sort of inflammation is defined as chronic and its presence can either be a symptom of a chronic disease or its cause. Some diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s Disease, and Ulcerative Colitis are classified as inflammatory disorders. While chronic inflammation may not be the main culprit in other diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity, its effect is still important as it brings discomfort and puts the body under unnecessary stress which in turn creates an even more favorable environment for diseases to thrive in. This phenomenon can be referred to as “oxidative stress.” This is what happens when there’s an unbalance between the free radicals produced by our bodies and the necessary antioxidants to combat their effect. Free radicals are a natural product of our everyday metabolic processes but when present in excess they cause damage to the tissues. Essentially, free radicals are molecules with a missing electron who then binds with the chemicals in our bodies, damaging them in the process.
Thankfully, research shows that eating a wide variety of antioxidants rich plant foods is one of the best way to fight against free radicals which are chronic diseases‘ worst enemy. This means that we can have some control in preventing diseases caused by inflammation as well as alleviating the associated symptoms of inflammatory disorders. More good news: fighting inflammation through our diet doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. In fact, it can be as simple as adding a few ingredients to your pantry and more fresh produce in your fridge. Not sure what to buy? Read 10 Lesser-Known Alkaline Foods to Help With Inflammation to learn more. If weight is a concern, know that regularly incorporating anti-inflammatory foods in your diet can also help you lose and manage your weight naturally.
Whatever your reason is for wanting to make a change towards a more anti-inflammatory diet, these no-fuss tips will help you do it.
1. Supercharge Your Smoothies
If smoothies are not part of your daily morning routine yet, they should be. Not only are they fast and easy to make but you can pack them up with as many inflammation-fighting foods as you’d like. Adding greens, chia seeds, and hemp seeds to your fruit smoothies is a great start if you’re looking to decrease inflammation in your body. Leafy greens contain phytochemicals such as carotenoids who have been shown to strengthen the immune system and fight inflammation by countering the effects of free radicals. Chia seeds and hemp seeds on their hand are filled with antioxidants, healthy fatty acids, and fiber which all help contribute to the reduction of inflammation. Indeed, the Omega 3s they contain were found to be positively linked with a decrease in inflammatory-markers in diabetics as well as a decrease in the production of free radicals.
If you want to include even more inflammation-fighting nutrients in your smoothie, here are 8 Unique Ingredients to Add to A Supercharged Smoothie. See also these 11 Awesome Green Monster Smoothies, this Superfood Protein Shake, or this Healing Turmeric Smoothie.
2. Spice it Up in the Kitchen
Using spices in your cooking is an easy way to get a nice anti-inflammatory boost without much effort. Not only is adding spices to old favorites a good way to discover new flavors but it may also inspire you to try out new recipes entirely. If you’re wondering where to start, here’s 7 Powerhouse Spices That Can Help Amp Up Your Nutrition. The anti-inflammatory power of spices resides in the flavonoids they contain. Curcumin, the yellow pigment in turmeric, has been shown to suppress chronic inflammation in a range of studies. Here’s How to Get More Turmeric in Your Diet Right Now. You can also try any of these amazing 15 recipes that include turmeric.
3. Drink the Good Stuff
When it comes to fighting inflammation, your choice of drink can have a bigger impact than you’d think. By swapping your second coffee for tea or simply foregoing coffee altogether in favor of green or herbal tea you will give your body a beneficial dose of antioxidants. Green tea and black tea, namely have been shown to reduce inflammation due to the flavonoids they contain. Moreover, a moderate to high consumption of coffee has been linked to a higher incidence of inflammation. This phenomenon may be explained by the effect of caffeine on our stress hormones which in turn affect our insulin sensitivity. However, too much insulin is positively linked with inflammation.
If you’re looking for more elaborate drinks, here are 10 Must-Try Healing Turmeric Powered Elixirs. You can also try these 5 Healthy ‘Shots’ To Alkalize Your Body in the Morning, or these Raw Citrus Turmeric Shots.
4. Side Dishes Are Your Friend
If you’re not so much into cooking, side dishes are an easy way to add anti-inflammatory foods in your diet. It’s as simple as getting a jar of sauerkraut or kimchi on the table. You can also make them yourself with these easy recipes, like this HomemadeKimchi, or this Simple Sauerkraut. Not only are they a tasty addition to any meal but their probiotic content plays an important role in keeping our gut healthy. Indeed, the use of probiotic-rich foods is beneficial in reducing the symptoms of digestive diseases and allergies which are both caused by chronic inflammation.
If you’d rather have your probiotics as part of the main dish (that’s good, too!) try these 15 Gut-Healthy Vegan Recipes Featuring Kimchi, this Tempeh Reuben Sandwich, or this beautiful Sauerkraut Salad With Apples and Walnuts.
5. Make Your Snacks Count
Your mom probably already told you but healthy snacks are where it’s at. If you’re pressed for time and can’t be fussed with eating what’s good for you all the time, making a small effort in your snack choices could make a world of difference when it comes to fighting inflammation. Remember that processed foods are your enemy, so choose wisely! Indeed, trans-fats, saturated-fats, and sugar have all been linked with an increase of inflammatory markers in the body. Not sure what you should have? Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are a safe bet. Packed with antioxidants and healthy fats, these will provide you with much-needed ammunition to fight inflammation. Want to get a bit more fancy? Try these 7 Yummy Superfood Snacks. These Golden Milk Popsicles and Raw Turmeric-Dusted Snack Balls also make for a great snack if you ask us!
Looking for more info on anti-inflammation? Here are a few articles to get you started:
- Top 10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods For the Vegan Athlete
- Anti-Inflammatory Herbs and Spices for Athletes
- 7 Anti-Inflammatory Power Foods For Arthritis
- How Good Nutrition Can Help Fight Inflammation and Osteoarthritis
- The Key to Increasing Energy and Reducing Inflammation Can be Found in These Foods
Looking for more recipes?
Try any of these:
- Anti-Inflammatory Overnight Oats
- Anti-Inflammatory Sweet Potato Soup
- Ayurvedic Lentil Crusted Tofu
- Spicy Turmeric Twice-Baked Potatoes
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Lead Image Source: Raw Turmeric-Dusted Snack Balls