Updated: Nov 5, 2021
Inflammation is a hot topic right now. Many common illnesses and diseases are caused by prolonged periods of inflammation (chronic inflammation) and more light is being shed upon this condition (and rightly so). Inflammation is an important part of the immune response responsible for removing unwanted stimuli and beginning the reparative process. This acute response is an important part of human health. Overexposure to immune response triggering stimuli, or the bodies inability to deal with these stimuli, can lead to chronic inflammation and an increased risk of: (1)
Arthritis and other joint problems
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Consuming a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods can help to reduce the effects of chronic inflammation. So, with that being said, let's take a look at 6 potent anti-inflammatory foods:
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Omega 3 fatty acids are found in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and anchovies. The health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids are down to EPA and DHA - two omega 3 fatty acids - which, when metabolised, have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects (2). In fact, omega 3's are some of the most potent anti-inflammatory compounds around (3).
In addition to omega-3, the fish sources provide other anti-inflammatory and health-promoting compounds such as vitamin B12, selenium, vitamin D and astaxanthin.
Aim to consume 2-3 servings of oily fish per week and always opt for wild-caught, sustainable sources. You can also supplement your diet with high-quality omega-3 supplements.
Broccoli, and other cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower and Brussel sprouts, are incredibly nutritious foods that pack a great anti-inflammatory punch. They contain high levels of antioxidants which help to reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer (4). Of note, the antioxidant sulforaphane found in broccoli seems to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects by reducing levels of cytokines and NF-kB (5).
Aim to include broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables as part of your daily intake of veggies. Steam where possible and always opt for organic sources.
Berries such as blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins which exhibit an anti-inflammatory effect that may reduce your risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer (6).
Consume a range of seasonal berries from local, organic (where possible) sources. Aim to consume them after a workout for the added benefit of their sugar content.
Dark chocolate is a great source of flavonols that provide anti-inflammatory effects and, in particular, help to maintain the health and integrity of the endothelial cells which line your arteries (7). Cocoa is also a great source of theobromine, another powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory effects (8).
When selecting chocolate, opt for 72%+ cocoa content and opt for organic, fair-trade sources wherever possible.
Turmeric is the root of the Curcuma Longa plant - a member of the ginger family - which is boiled, dried and ground to form turmeric powder. Turmeric powder is a staple in Indian cuisine and one of the most popular anti-inflammatory super-food supplements around. This is due to curcumin - the main active compound in turmeric - which has been shown to exhibit a highly potent anti-inflammatory effect. In fact, curcumin has been shown to be a more effective anti-inflammatory than ibuprofen (9).
Use turmeric when preparing meals - it goes well with chicken and curries - and always use it alongside black pepper and healthy fats such as olive oil (10).
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Ginger has long been used in Traditional medicines thanks to its many medicinal properties (11). Of the many bioactive compounds present in ginger, gingerol is the main compound possessing anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative and anti-cancer abilities (12).
Use powdered or fresh ginger in cooking or add some fresh ginger slices to your water to get the most out of gingers unique qualities.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Maitland is a personal trainer with over 13 years of experience. He has worked alongside a wide range of leading CEOs, entrepreneurs and medical professionals. John is a keen athlete and holds a black belt in Shaolin Kung fu. A fan of the great outdoors, he can often be found exploring the British countryside and mountains...or breaking pine boards with his fingers.