Dealing with any kind of inflammation in the body can be difficult, and usually requires a plethora of painkillers and medications. Nowadays, people even experience chronic inflammation caused by stress, the hectic lifestyle, and unhealthy food that causes and promotes all kinds of inflammation.
However, we’ve come to learn that one of the best ways to reduce inflammation isn’t be going for the medication right away, but rather by introducing the proper foods to our diet. There is an abundance of scientific evidence showing the healing and anti-inflammatory properties of healthy foods and drinks that everyone should introduce to their nutrition. So, if you’re interested in seeing which foods should your diet include, then keep on reading.
Quick Info: Inflammation is a body’s healing response to a condition, injury, or localized problem. However, inflammation can be unnoticed, chronic, or affect the whole body. Many of the known diseases are caused by inflammation in the body, from auto-immune diseases, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and even depression. Inflammation means that the organs in the body are ‘inflamed’; chronic inflammation especially causes inflammation of blood vessels, joints, and brain tissue. Here are some of the most common cause of chronic or systemic inflammation;
- Unhealthy foods – refined sugars and carbohydrates, trans fats, omega-6 fatty acids, gluten, alcohol, red meat, dairy, food additives
- Stress – emotional, psychological, and personal stress, relationship stress or stress at workplace
- Unhealthy environment – pollution, pesticides/herbicides, chemical and airborne irritants, active and passive smoking, heavy metals
- Acute and chronic illness: excess weight and obesity, heart diseases, celiac disease, Chron’s disease, arthritis
- Genetics – family history of chronic and systemic inflammation
18 Anti-Inflammatory Foods/Drinks
Vegetables And Fruits
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and kale) – studies show that cruciferous vegetables are rich in antioxidants which causes them to have anti-inflammatory properties. These veggies can reduce inflammation by reducing the levels of cytokines (chemical substances in the body that cause inflammation). Studies even show that broccoli especially can be useful in inflammation management with conditions like heart disease or cancer.
- Peppers – many people don’t know this, but the bell and chili peppers are incredibly healthy and good for our health. Peppers are abundant in vitamin C and antioxidants, which give them incredibly powerful anti-inflammatory effects. One particular antioxidant, known as quercetin, is responsible for making peppers helpful in inflammatory diseases like sarcoidosis (it reduces one marker of oxidative damage in sarcoidosis patients).
- Grapes – studies show that grapes are powerful little antioxidant bombs that can help decrease inflammatory effects in diseases like diabetes, heart diseases, Alzheimer’s, obesity, and eye disorders. The reason for that lies in resveratrol; this is a compound that acts as an antioxidant and helps reduce inflammation, suppress cancer cells, regulate high blood pressure, and even ease joint pain (which can also be a form of inflammation).
- Tomatoes – not only are tomatoes incredibly tasty, but they’re also incredibly healthy. When it comes to inflammation management, there is no better candidate than these little red balls of health. Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, lycopene, potassium, and of course, and a plethora of anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show that tomato intake can decrease inflammatory markers in conditions like obesity, several types of cancer, and auto-immune diseases.
- Avocados – one of the best anti-inflammatory foods you can get are avocados. They are known as the superfood, and for a reason; avocados are loaded with potassium, fiber, monosaturated fats, and magnesium. All of these compounds contribute to the anti-inflammatory properties and are known to reduce inflammation by reducing the active role of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines.
- Cherries – another way to fight inflammation with healthy foods is by eating lots of cherries. They are a delicious way of introducing your body to antioxidants and loads of vitamins. Cherries are known to decrease the inflammatory markers and help them stay low even after one stops eating cherries (we’re talking weeks after one halts cherry consumption).
Note: when buying, make sure to look for organic and in-season veggies and fruits. Also, know that not only grapes but all berries are superfoods and are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. We also recommend you lower your juice intake, because the amount of fruits in the store-bought juices is incredibly low, and such drinks are loaded with sugars and additives.
- Salmon – wild salmon and other fatty fish are loaded with omega 3 EPA and DHA. That is why salmon is an ideal anti-inflammatory food; it maintains healthy blood vessels, and overall reduces chronic inflammation throughout the body. People with arthritis, heart diseases, diabetes, and joint issues are recommended to eat salmon regularly, since it has insulin effectiveness, inflammation control, regulates cell growth, and maintains a healthy immune system.
- Beans and legumes (black beans, chickpeas, lentils, black-eyed peas) – beans are known to be high in protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Their anti-inflammatory properties are incredibly effective because they’re loaded with vitamin B, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, and minerals. However, it is not recommended to eat beans if you experience an inflammatory response; some people are naturally sensitive to beans and legumes, so before eating them, the beans should be soaked and cooked to neutralize the inflammation-causing lectins.
- Asian mushrooms (shiitake, maitake, wild mushrooms) – mushrooms, and Asian varieties in particular, are rich in protein, selenium, vitamin B, and copper. They are loaded with antioxidants, which contribute to their incredible anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show that mushrooms can reduce obesity-related inflammation, as well as contribute to a healthy immune system.
Note: If you’re able to get a hold of high-quality, organic, and free-range eggs, cheese, and milk, we strongly recommend you include these foods into your nutrition as well. They are high in proteins and can have anti-inflammatory effects (unless you’re lactose-intolerant or you overall practice a vegan or vegetarian diet).
- Turmeric – if one spice is known to be the best at reducing inflammation, it is turmeric. This wonderful spice contains the substance known as curcumin, which is responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties. The spice is also filled with antioxidants and is incredibly healthy. Turmeric is incredibly useful in cases of muscle soreness (muscle inflammation) and enhances exercise-related injury recovery.
- Cinnamon – cinnamon has been used for thousands of years now, not only as a great addition to apple pie but also as an anti-inflammatory agent. Studies show that cinnamon is very useful in cases of inflammatory diseases, as well as in cases of diabetes, cancers, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s diseases. The reason for this lies in procyanidins and catechins found in cinnamon, believed to have incredible antioxidant effects.
- Cayenne or chili – also known as cayenne or chili pepper, capsaicin has been known from the beginning of times as the best anti-inflammatory spice in the human diet. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, capsaicin is used to treat digestive irritation, gastric digestion, asthma, arthritis, muscle cramps, toothache, and diarrhea.
- Ginger – because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, ginger is used to treat infectious diseases, arthritis, rheumatism, indigestion and constipation, cardiovascular diseases, and even cancer. Studies show that the bioactive molecules in ginger (like gingerols) play an essential role in the treatment of heart diseases, muscle pain, cancer, and other medical conditions.
Other Anti-Inflammatory Foods
- Extra virgin olive oil – did you know that fats can also be healthy? The best example is extra virgin olive oil, one of the healthiest foods you could eat in the world. Olive oil is filled with antioxidants, and its anti-inflammatory properties are being compared to those of actual anti-inflammatory medication, like ibuprofen. Extra virgin olive oil can help out in cases of heart disease, cancers, and other serious medical conditions.
- Dark chocolate and cocoa – because they’re filled with antioxidants, dark chocolate and cocoa are incredibly healthy and great for the reduction of body inflammations. So, if you want to reduce any inflammation in the body, reduce the risk of developing a disease (like cardiovascular disease) or you simply want to look younger and healthier, then dark chocolate and cocoa are your foods to go with.
- Coffee – because it contains caffeine, coffee is an incredible anti-inflammatory beverage. Caffeine has anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, which makes it great for reducing inflammation and pain in the body. Caffeine affects the nerves in our bodies which transmit pain, and as a result, we manage to process pain easier. Coffee can even help with muscle cramps and muscle soreness.
- Green tea – alongside water, green tea is one of the healthiest drinks in the world. It is packed with polyphenols, amino acids, and caffeine, all of which contribute to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Green tea is also rich in EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate), which is an anti-inflammatory substance known to inhibit inflammation by reducing the production of cytokines.
- Water – finally, the best anti-inflammatory drink you can have is a glass of water. This is the most natural way of dealing with and reducing inflammation. Proper water intake (at least 8 glasses of water daily) can do wonders for your health; it will keep your heart functioning properly, your stomach working seamlessly, and your joints well lubricated and inflammation-free. Proper hydration can even prevent muscle cramps and muscle soreness (muscle inflammation).
Health care providers all over the world encourage people to eat healthy foods and follow an anti-inflammatory diet. One such diet is the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in all of the aforementioned food groups. So, remember, to reduce inflammation, you need to consume foods that are high in antioxidants, vitamins, amino acids, and minerals. The food needs to be organic and high-quality, to get the best out of every veggie, fruit, and meat. For more information about anti-inflammatory foods and drinks, make sure to consult with your doctor and see how such a diet can help your current health status.