Eating anti-inflammatory foods is a good way to combat the unseen, low-grade inflammation that lurks beneath the surface in all of us, especially as we get older. This low-grade inflammation can lead to heart disease, one of the primary causes of death, and has been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s and some forms of cancer. While anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen are effective in the short-term, adding anti-inflammatory foods to the menu serves a dual purpose – controlling potentially deadly, low-grade inflammation and improving overall general health through lower caloric intake.
Wanted: low added sugar content
There are many types of anti-inflammatory foods, but the one thing they have in common is a relatively low processed sugar content. Specific examples of these beneficial foods include:
- Salmon and other coldwater fish – contain high levels of omega 3 fats
- Grass-fed, free-range beef – contains moderate levels of omega 3 fats
- Olive oil – contains oleic acid
- Salad ingredients such as lettuce, spinach and tomatoes – rich in vitamin C and anti-oxidants
- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts – rich in anti-oxidants and sulfur
- Cherries and blueberries – contain antioxidants
- Curry spice – contains turmeric, a natural anti-inflammatory compound
- Ginger – contains turmeric
- Garlic – may aid in glucose regulation
- Green tea – contains anti-inflammatory compounds
In addition to supporting your overall health, anti-inflammatory foods may also help ease neck and back pain. Many spinal conditions, such as arthritis of the spine, spinal stenosis and general back pain, are rooted in tissue inflammation that presses upon the complex nerve network of the spine. Eating a healthy diet of anti-inflammatory foods could be a natural way to reduce inflammation and the pain that often goes with it.
Some foods make it worse
Just as there are foods that reduce inflammation, there are foods that make it worse. These include junk foods, red meats and any other foods that are high in saturated fats and/or added sugars. Proper nutrition demands reduced intake of high-calorie, low-benefit foods and a good balance of anti-inflammatory foods.