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Feel your best with these inflammation-fighting foods—many of which you may already have in your pantry

Posted by Smarter Nutrition on

Your alarm goes off. After you finally pull yourself out of bed, you sleepily scamper into the bathroom, slump over the sink, tilt your head up to look in the mirror and are greeted with bags under your eyes—and, yikes, what’s that rash? When it’s time to get dressed, you pull up your pants, start to zip them up and you’re met with resistance. The zipper won’t budge. You’re 15 minutes into your day, and you already give up. Not so fast.

 

You cobble together a complicated “treatment” (read: cover-up) regimen for all of these individual issues: caffeine for an energy boost, heavy concealer for the luggage under your eyes, greasy cream to soothe the rash, a laxative and fad diet to deflate the spare tire... What you don’t realize is that the caffeine is dehydrating, the heavy concealer and greasy cream are clogging your pores and giving you acne, and the diet products are contributing to your fatigue and your skin and digestive issues. None of these products are getting to the root of the problem. So it lingers on...

 

But the good news is that you can fight fatigue, battle bloat, and destroy digestive issues and depression and more with a natural approach, one that will treat all of these issues simultaneously without stalling progress or exacerbating or creating another problem. That natural approach involves a variety of foods—many of which you may already have in your pantry. But before we go there, let’s start with our top five inflammation-fighting foods.

 

  1. Green Leafy Vegetables

 

When it comes to leafy greens, you have a lot of options from A to Z (well, actually A to T):

  • Arugula
  • Beet greens
  • Broccoli
  • Chard
  • Collard greens
  • Endive
  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Spinach
  • Turnip greens

 

Leafy greens are loaded with vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as alpha-linolenic acid, which fight inflammation. If salads aren’t your jam, then get all of these benefits by blending greens into a smoothie; afterall, it’s easier to drink your greens than eat them.

 

  1. Avocados

 


 

This bright and buttery fruit serves as an anti-inflammatory, because it contains monounsaturated fats, which are “good fats,” and phytosterols, as well as vitamins E and C, manganese, selenium and zinc. Jazz up your salads, sandwiches and toast with avocado.

 

  1. Beets

 

 

Beets beat inflammation with a nutrient called betaine, which is an amino acid. They are also a good source of magnesium, which fights inflammation. Beets taste great on a salad or by themselves. Red velvet cake lovers: Did you know that you can also use them to make natural red food coloring?

 

  1. Blueberries

 


 

Blueberries contain quercetin, a flavonoid that fights inflammation. Throw them into a smoothie or on top of your overnight oats (more on that later!) or Greek yogurt: another inflammation-fighting food—make note!

 

  1. Pineapple

 

 

 This is another great food to toss into a smoothie or on top of some Greek yogurt. It contains a digestive enzyme called bromelain that fights inflammation.

 

Researchers have found that the best inflammation-fighting foods are found in the fridge[1]. However, that’s not the only place where you might find them, and fruits and vegetables aren’t your only option. There are a number of other food groups that have inflammation-fighting foods that you likely already have in your pantry.

 

  1. Canned tuna

 

 

Canned tuna is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which may reduce inflammation. Just make sure you buy the kind that is packaged in water and not in oil. Enjoy it in a salad, either one with lettuce or whole-wheat pasta, on top of some avocado or on a sandwich.

 

  1. Coconut oil

 

 

 

While you’ve likely heard about its dozens of uses, from in the kitchen to in the powder room, you may not have heard that coconut oil also fights inflammation. It contains a type of fatty acid called medium-chain fatty acids, which include lauric acid, capric acid, caprylic acid and caproic acid; the lauric acid in coconut oil helps to reduce inflammation. In addition to cooking with it, you can use it topically to treat insect bites and stings and even swish it in your mouth to reduce inflammation of the gums.

 

  1. Herbs and spices

 

 

 

We’ve known for thousands of years the health benefits that come with eating herbs and spices, specifically their ability to reduce inflammation. Either incorporate them in your cooking or blend them into a smoothie. Herbs like basil, rosemary and sage and spices like cayenne, cinnamon, clove, garlic, ginger and turmeric are high in antioxidants and keep your digestive system healthy.

 

Curcumin

The primary active ingredient in turmeric is called curcumin. Curcumin has powerful medicinal properties as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant—the only problem is that your body has such a hard time absorbing that orangey-yellow powder. Problem solved: Our curcumin free radical fighter is formulated for maximum absorption. 

 

  1. Nuts

 

 

 

Snack on this: Nuts are a good source of healthy fat, which reduce inflammation, so try the following:

  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Peanuts
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts

 

  1. Tea

 

 

 

Various types of tea—like green, black and herbal teas—reduce inflammation. Enjoy black tea for a little pep in your step, rose hip tea to wind down before bedtime or even some ginger tea to ease a bloated, upset stomach.

 

  1. Virgin olive oil

 

 

Get this: There’s an antioxidant in olive oil, called oleocanthal, that works similarly to the common anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen. Next time you feel a little achy or crampy, instead of popping some ibuprofen, which can lead to stomach issues as a result of prolonged use, try olive oil first.

 

  1. Whole grains

 

 

 Whole grains are yet another food that fight inflammation with antioxidants. These include the following:

  • Barley
  • Brown rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Bulgur
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Popcorn
  • Whole-wheat bread, pasta or crackers

 

Prepare some overnight oats with the anti-inflammatory blueberries and nuts, or make yourself a grain bowl with any of the listed whole grains as a base and some additional anti-inflammatory foods like green leafy vegetables, avocado, beets, canned tuna and herbs and spices.

  

[1] Foods that fight inflammation. (2014, June). Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation

 


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