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Did you know that chronic inflammation has been linked to diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, fertility and depression?
The inflammatory response can be triggered by things such as chemicals, pollens, certain foods. The immune system realizes there is something invading the body and switches on an inflammatory response to try and protect it.
If inflammation persists it can become dangerous as it might be linked to an underlying disease.
A study by Giugliano et al, 2006 found that a diet rich in omega-3-fatty acids, fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains and a reduction in saturated and trans-fats, is linked to a decrease in inflammation, cardiac disease and metabolic syndrome.
Our top 6 anti-inflammatory foods:
- Fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, oranges, and cherries
- Nuts such as almonds and walnuts
- Olive oils
- Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, etc
- Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines
Tomatoes have anti-inflammatory properties, as they contain high levels of Vitamin C and A, along with the antioxidant lycopene. These antioxidants clear the body of free radicals that would otherwise damage cells via inflammation and cause diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
A study by Jacob, K et al, (2008) concluded that the protective properties of tomato juice and tomatoes are beneficial for oxidative stress and inflammation.
Omega-3-fatty acids – Found in fatty fish
Giugliano et al, 2006 state, omega-3-fatty acids have been long recognized to have anti-inflammatory activity. They found that those who consumed at least 300g of fish per week had 33% lower C-reactive protein compared to those who ate less or no fish.
Fruits and Green leafy vegetables
Vitamins and flavonoids found in fruits and vegetables lower C-reactive protein in the body and help lower inflammation and disease.
A randomized study by Giugliano et al, 2006 found that by giving the subjects a diet high in carotenoid-rich vegetables and fruits, significantly reduced C-reactive protein compared to those eating only 2 serves per day.
Fruits such as apples cherries and blueberries are high in antioxidants and polyphenols which are protective compounds found in fruits and green leafy vegetables that help to reduce inflammation.
Nuts are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. It is thought these good fats help decrease soluble inflammatory adhesion molecules. Also nuts high in arginine are associated with lower C-reactive protein and therefore lower incidence of inflammation. These compounds are important for modulating inflammation.
A study by Salas-Salvado, J et al., 2008 found a relationship between frequent nut consumption and lower levels of inflammation.
A study by Lucas, L et al, 2011 found that compounds in virgin olive oils have similar anti-inflammatory properties to ibuprofen.
Olive oils contain numerous compounds that exert potent anti-inflammatory actions.
We need to remember that our immune system and inflammatory markers all start with our gut health. If we upset the applecart, so to speak, with an unhealthy microbiome then we increase inflammation and weaken the immune system. In return we open the pathway to diseases such as cancer, fertility issues, heart disease, diabetes and depression.
What other foods can improve immunity?
- Apples, berries, cherries
- Butternut squash, carrot, pumpkin, sweet potato
- Garlic, ginger, mushrooms, shitake mushrooms, onions
- Probiotics, kefir, live yogurt, miso, sauerkraut and tempeh
- Nuts and seeds
- Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines
Make sure to be drinking plenty of fresh water and incorporating daily exercises into the diet too.
Bhowmik, D., Sampath, K, P., Paswan, S., and Srivastava, S (2012). ‘Tomato-A Natural Medicine and Its Health Benefits.’ Journal of Pharmacognosy and Photochemistry 1:1, 24-36
Giugliano, D., Ceriello, A., and Esposito, K (2006). ‘The Effects if Diet on Inflammation – Emphasis on the Metabolic Syndrome.’ Journal of the American College of Cardiology 48:4, 677-85.
Jacob, K., Periago, J, M., Bohm, V., and Berruezo, G, R., (2008). ‘Influence of lycopene and vitamin C from tomato juice on biomarkers of oxidative stress and infamation.’ British journal of Nutrition 99, 137-144
Lucas, L., Russell, A and Russell, K (2011). ‘Molecular Mechanisms of Inflamation. Anti-inflammatory Benefits of Virgin Olive Oil and the Phenolic Compound Oleocanthal.’ Current Pharmaceutical Design 17:8, 754-768
Salas-Salvado, J., Casas-Agustench, P., Murphy, M, M., Lopez-Uriarte, P., Bullo, M., (2008). ‘The Effects of Nuts on Inflammation’ Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 17:S1, 333-336