As we age, we tend to look at everyday aches and pains as part of life. We learn to cope with this discomfort through workarounds in our routine or no longer doing activities that might trigger pain.
Quality of life can be severely impacted by chronic inflammation, and it’s happening to people all over the world.
60% of people live with a chronic condition caused by inflammation, with 42% of those people having more than one. Those numbers have almost doubled since 2000!
On average, chronic inflammation stems from poor dietary choices. Fast-food, preservatives, and sweeteners are a recipe for inflammation. Luckily, some of the dietary choices we make can ease chronic inflammation or even reverse it. Here are the top 5 anti-inflammatory foods to add to your diet!
Have you ever used a heating pad to help ease muscle tension after a workout or whiplash after a car accident? Heat is a conductor for energy. In terms of our body, that means blood flow to our joints and muscles. That’s why many topical creams for pain relief contain the ingredient capsaicin.
Capsaicin is an active compound found in red pepper. You can literally fight fire with fire by infusing some red pepper into your diet!
Research shows that this potent compound activates a pathway known as peroxisomal proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPAR-γ). PPAR-γ activation brings relief to people with chronic inflammation in two ways.
- PPAR-γ helps calm down inflammation
- PPAR-γ modulates the central nervous system to not cause pain
Capsaicin also strengthens our gut barrier. It can help regulate our intestines' movement so that harmful bacteria don't overtake the body and cause inflammation. Chronic inflammation in the gut can lead to several conditions, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Leaky Gut Syndrome.
The gut-healing benefits of red pepper don't end there. Red pepper is the second-richest source of Vitamin C. Not only is Vitamin C an antioxidant that not only fights off free radicals, but it's essential for collagen production.
This benefit works twofold because Vitamin C in red pepper also improves collagen production. Our gut barrier relies on collagen to give the cells protecting our body more structure. Make a bone broth with plenty of red peppers to help prevent chronic inflammation caused by gut issues.
Melt some dark chocolate and sprinkle in some chili powder. Allow the mixture to cool and you have an anti-inflammatory snack. Dark chocolate made of at least 70% cacao is rich in flavonoids. These pigment-based compounds have strong antioxidant abilities. You also don’t need to feel guilty about this treat. Both dark chocolate and capsaicin burn fat naturally!
Turmeric is a bright yellow rhizome with a pungently sweet flavor that kicks up any curry, latte, or soup stock. It also provides the body with plenty of anti-inflammatory benefits.
This Eastern culinary staple has a group of unique compounds known as curcuminoids. In particular, it contains an abundance of curcumin.
A meta-analysis of curcumin benefits found that this potent antioxidant may improve:
- Inflammatory Conditions
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Exercise-Induced Inflammation
- Muscle Soreness
Unfortunately, curcumin is very hard for the body to absorb. However, you can increase your chances by 2,000% with black pepper.
Black pepper has a lipid known as piperine that helps your body absorb curcumin. In fact, the University of Massachusetts Center for Applied Nutrition says even just 1/20 of a teaspoon of black pepper will improve the overall benefits!
Pro Tip: Increase your chances of absorption more by eating a fatty meal in conjunction with consuming turmeric. Healthy fats found in extra virgin olive oil, eggs, and meat will absorb the curcuminoids. That way, the fats hit our stomach acids, not the turmeric compounds. In turn, curcuminoids get released into the bloodstream with a greater chance of survival.
Berries are nature's gift to us. They're temptingly delicious and are loaded with inflammation-fighting antioxidants.
Red, blue, and black colored berries all get their distinct colors from various antioxidants known as anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are a subclass of flavonoids, which we discussed before with dark chocolate.
A research journal looked at chronic inflammation caused by obesity and the role of anthocyanins in treatment. Experts noted how anthocyanins decrease inflammation caused by excess levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
In addition, anthocyanins influence our hunger hormones. Compounds in blueberry juice have been shown to stimulate fat cells. This reaction causes these tissues to release leptin, our satiety hormone. Consuming berries will make you feel fuller so that you don't eat more inflammatory foods.
Just be sure to mix up your berry intake. Researchers noted that a spectrum of anthocyanins showed more benefits than one particular compound. So, make your morning fruit bowl nice and colorful!
Berries are the perfect addition to any anti-inflammatory meal routine. They pair perfectly with gut-healing yogurt. Yogurt contains probiotic bacteria that help repair your gut lining. Add plenty of healthy fats to this meal like walnuts, chia seeds, and hemp hearts. These will all fight inflammation, help you feel fuller longer, and improve your cognitive function!
Leafy greens contain a wide variety of nutrients that our bodies need, including Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and calcium. However, they also contain a load of dietary fiber.
Fiber is your friend for fighting inflammation. It helps you clear out any toxins that might be causing gut-related issues. The more regular your movements are, the less work your immune system has to do. Since your innate immune system cells start the inflammation process, you want to keep them happy!
Dietary fiber also serves as food for our probiotic bacteria. Beneficial bacteria feast on carbohydrates found in leafy greens. In turn, they produce metabolites, like short-chain fatty acids. Short-chain fatty acids act as energy currency for our gut cells, giving them the jolt necessary to protect our body from toxins in our intestines.
Nothing ruins a healthy salad more than unhealthy salad dressing. Salad dressing sold in the grocery store is full of preservatives, artificial flavorings, and other ingredients that raise red flags. You end up drenching your salad with unnecessary calories.
Opt for an oil rich in healthy fats, like extra virgin olive oil or hemp oil. Then, use a vinegar teeming with probiotic bacteria, like apple cider or red wine vinegar. Top with herbs and spices from your cabinet. Not only will this be healthier, but it'll also taste much fresher.
We keep talking about the importance of healthy fats. You can get much healthier fats than those found in wild-caught fish.
Some of the healthiest fatty fish include:
- Albacore Tuna
Wild-caught fish are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. These fats offset the damage done by too many omega-6 fatty acids.
Life is about balance, and our ancestors evolved as humans with a 1:1 to omega fatty acid ratio. Today we hover around 20:1, tipping the scales (literally) in favor of omega-6s.
Too many omega-6s leads to cholesterol build-ups, high blood pressure, and obesity. One of these consequences is enough to cause inflammation. All three are a surefire way to spark chronic inflammation.
We love fish and all, but sometimes we want steak or tacos. You don’t need to throw down some mussels when you’re finished to help bring balance back. Instead, taking an omega-3 fatty acid supplement. That way, your omega scale gets daily support.
One of the best omega-3 fatty acid supplements is Nutretics’ Krill Oil. This all-natural supplement is made with all-natural and sustainably sourced krill. Krill contains a unique compound known as astaxanthin.
Research shows that this potent antioxidant helps fight oxidative stress and repairs cells damaged by UV rays. Therefore, it can help prevent the spread of cancerous growth.
This formula is also fortified with phospholipids. These fat-based molecules help make all the minerals and antioxidants in the formula more bioavailable. That way, you can go through the day with as little pain as possible for longer periods of time!