I was talking to one of my best friend’s the other day and she told me that after having an appointment with her doctor she was told to avoid inflammatory foods and incorporate more anti-inflammatory foods. When she called me, she said she is totally willing to do this, but what are those foods that will decrease inflammation? Better yet, what are the benefits of anti-inflammatory vs. inflammatory foods.
When I was having a bunch of health issues last year which were eventually linked to Celiacs, I had to hard core avoid inflammatory foods because my internal organs were incredibly inflamed. The difficult part about your internal organs being inflamed is most people don’t even know there is a problem until it comes to the surface and poses as a serious external problem. For me it was severe acne, for others it can be the feeling of always being tired, not having energy, feeling bloated, having issues falling asleep or waking up, gaining weight, not being regular in the bathroom (yeah I went there)…
Foods That Cause Inflammation
So what foods aggravate inflammation and how can we decrease in the inflammation to feel better (have more energy, not feel bloated, feel our best)? For starters the main inflammatory foods are: alcohol, red meat (beef, veal, pork, lamb), gluten (flour, oats, barley, rye, couscous), diary (milk, cheese, cream, yogurt), soy (soy milk, soybean oil, tofu), shellfish (shrimp, lobster, scallops), oils (canola, soybean, vegetable), preservatives, and processed foods (energy drinks, salad dressings… this list is too long for this).
This seems extremely shocking to most people. “WTF THIS IS EVERYTHING I EAT!!”. I’m not saying you have to avoid all these foods for the rest of your life, but if you want to balance your body, you have to get your body out of the inflammatory stage. The average American Diet is extremely inflammatory, we need to change that to anti-inflammatory so that we can enjoy those inflammatory foods and not feel terrible all the time! Feel me?
Start Small Or Go All Out
So being as most of our bodies are in that inflammatory state, first things first is limit if not, totally exclude those inflammatory foods I listed above. For about 5 months I went balls to the wall and had none of the above. This was a total GAME CHANGER for me and left me feeling absolutely phenomenal. It also broke so many cravings. I gotta tell you, it takes willpower and a dedication to want change. So if you want to do it, I say set a goal for yourself. Start with 2 weeks and avoid all of the above, determine what is the hardest for you and create an alternative. When I was avoiding alcohol I would still go out with friends and just have soda water with lemons in a cocktail glass…honestly it was much easier than you would think, you just have to stick to it!
There is a major connection between inflammation and diseases as well as inflammation and food. So what foods aggravate and cause inflammation and what foods should we be eating to decrease inflammation? Here is a list of my personal top 11 favorite anti-inflammatory foods. I will explain the additional benefits plus how I like to enjoy them! These foods are high in at least one of the following: antioxidants, minerals, and omega 3 fatty acids. These three components are key to reducing inflammation.
Tip: When you are looking to reduce inflammation in addition to the food you eat, make sure you are moving your body. Go for walks, take a yoga class, stretch, go get a massage, just get that lymph system moving and don’t be stagnant! Always always always drink lots of water too!! Water will flush out all of those yucky toxins that get released when inflammation goes down.
Lokahi Lifestyle Top 11 Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Blueberries – along with being high in antioxidants which fight cancer causing free radicals, blueberries also contain a compound called flavonoid which supports healthy bacterial growth in the gut and prevents colon damage. Blueberries also contain fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is super amazing because it protects the immune system and has positive effects on metabolism, hormone control, skin conditions, and memory.
Pineapples – contains manganese, calcium, Vitamin C, folate, potassium, copper, beta carotene, thiamin, and Vitamin B6. English? Manganese helps with the proper function of the thyroid gland and regulates blood sugar. Beta-carotene helps maintain healthy skin and eye health. I love cutting up pineapple slices and sprinkling some cayenne pepper on top for a little kick!
Salmon – also includes Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, protein, selenium, biotin, Vitamin B6, potassium, and omega 3-fatty acids. Vitamin B12 boosts energy, keeps nerve function healthy, balances hormones, and aids in a positive mood. Selenium aids in a healthy immune system, helps defend against cancer, regulates thyroid, and defends against stress. Here is one of my favorite salmon recipes!
Coconut Oil – the holy grain right? Coconut oil fixes all! Except don’t put it on your face! Coconut oil contains healthy fats called medium-chain fatty acids, aka MCFAs aka medium-chain triglycerides aka MCTs. Yes, they can be referred to any of those names. Basically these unique healthy fats are not readily stored as fat, anti-fungal, used for immediate energy, and easy to digest. Fats that don’t make you fat! Coconut oil helps burn fat, prevents heart disease, protects the liver, prevents cancer, improves memory, increases energy, boosts your immune system, and improves various skin issues. Obviously it’s why I cook with it and put it in my coffee and smoothies all the time!
Chia Seeds – contain omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Magnesium enables nerves to function, helps the production of energy from food, and helps to build bones. Omega-3 fatty acids fight depression, cancer, ADHD, and lower the risk of heart disease. Throw them in your smoothies or juice, just don’t forget to let them soak in liquid for at least 15 minutes before you eat them! This will allow them to swell up and not soak up the water in your body.
Turmeric – The all powerful turmeric! I love love love making Turmeric Golden Milk because the benefits are incredible! Turmeric destroys cancer cells, lowers blood cholesterol, anti-fungal, protects the liver, fights depression (boosts your mood!), and improves skin texture, and improves the oxygen intake of the brain.
Ginger- can reduce or complete get rid of nausea, aids in digestion, fights the flu and common cold, high in antioxidants, reduces muscle soreness, aids in lowering blood sugar, and contains anti-cancer properties. I love throwing ginger root in my orange and pineapples juice for a kick as well as drinking ginger tea when I am struggling to digest food.
Kale – dark leafy greens in general are amazing for reducing inflammation. Those dark leafy greens also include spinach, chard, mustard greens, collard greens, and romaine lettuce. Kale is my absolute fav and contains protein, fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, and folate. Throw a handful of kale in your morning smoothie, juice it, or make a kale salad. Don’t forget to massage your kale in dressing (yes massage with your hands) so soften it up and let it soak up the dressing. This is a game changer, after massaging I recommend you let it sit for at least 10 minutes before you enjoy.
Walnuts – contain amino acids, antioxidants, Vitamin E, melatonin, folate, and omega 3- fatty acids. Antioxidents fight against cancer causing free radicals, amino acids are key for muscle development, immune strength, combating fat build up, and developing the central nervous system. Walnuts are a new favorite of mine and I enjoy eating them with some dark chocolate.
Beets – contain Vitamin C, potassium, fiber, manganese, and folate. Potassium aids in lowering anxiety and stress. If that isn’t a reason enough to eat beets I don’t know what is! It also boosts metabolism, aids in electrolytic function, lowers blood pressure, and provides relief of kidney disorders. I like roasting beets in the oven with some sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and cinnamon. So good!
Broccoli – last but certainly not least this vegetable contains vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B6, manganese, vitamin K, folate, vitamin A, potassium, and copper. Vitamin A aids in immune system health, bone growth, decreases bacteria, and plays a positive role in eye health. Vitamin E fights cancer causing free radicals, aids in healthy brain function, lowers cholesterol, and reduces wrinkles.
Wheww!! That’s a lot of info I know, but it’s so incredibly important to understand the good and the bad of food. All of these foods are amazing for reducing inflammation but as you can see they play major roles helping many other aspects of your health.
What are your favorite anti-inflammatory foods?