Inflammation is the immune system's normal response to infection or injury. If you're suffering from any type of inflammation, there are a variety of all-natural relief options available. In some cases, look no further than your local grocery store, farmer's market, or backyard garden. There you'll find a variety of foods well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
Spring is the perfect season to start including more of these foods in your diet. In addition to their ability to reduce inflammation, these foods also provide essential vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to your health. Many of them are "heart healthy" foods. In season, they will most likely be fresher and more available locally, so the environment will benefit from your food choices, too!
Here's a list to get you started. Note: The foods listed with an * are best when purchased organic as they have been found to contain higher levels of pesticides.
- Fruits: blackberries*, blueberries*, cranberries, papaya, pineapple, raspberries*, strawberries*
- Vegetables: Asian mushrooms (shiitake and maitake), cauliflower, broccoli, spinach*, sweet potatoes
- Fish: Alaskan black cod, sardines (in moderation), wild Alaskan salmon
- Nuts & seeds: chia, flax and hemp seeds, walnuts
- Whole & cracked grains: barley, basmati rice, brown rice, buckwheat, groats, millet, quinoa, steel-cut oats, wild rice
- Beans & legumes: adzuki and black beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, and lentils
- Herbs & spices: cinnamon, garlic, ginger, turmeric
- Healthy oils: avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil
- Green tea and filtered water
If you are trying to reduce inflammation, avoiding these foods will also help:
- Dairy products (processed cows milk, cheese)
- Refined white carbohydrates (breads, buns, crackers)
- High fructose corn syrup
- Trans fats (hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils)
- Artificial sweeteners and colors
- Flavor enhancers such as MSG
In addition to food,exercise is another natural approach to reducing inflammation. Try incorporating 30 minutes of exercise into your day at least 3 times a week. Here are just a few of the benefits of exercise:
- Improves circulation
- Boosts your immune system
- Reduces stress
So let's review: Consume plenty of the fresh, whole foods from the above list, avoid processed foods, sugars and artificial sweeteners, and exercise when you can. Your body will thank you!