Do you have stiff, inflamed joints? The answer may involve your diet. Internal inflammation can happen for a host of different reasons: high temperatures when cooking food, eating processed foods, sugar, trans fats, etc. A high level of inflammation within the body can cause many health problems. An easy way to combat this? Eat more anti-inflammatory foods! An extreme case that affects many people is rheumatoid arthritis, whose symptoms — pain, stiffness, and swelling — all stem from the same source: inflammation. Changing your diet and light to moderate exercise can greatly aid the symptoms of RA and mild inflammation alike. Here is HFR’s list of foods that reduce inflammation:
- Olive Oil: Research has shown that people who eat a traditional Mediterranean diet (which is rich in olive oil) seem to have fewer health conditions related to inflammation, such as degenerative joint diseases and even diabetes. Extra-virgin olive oil contains compounds similar to ibuprofen, making it a great oil for cooking foods and in salad dressings.
- Citrus Fruits: Citrus foods such as oranges, grapefruit, lemon, and limes are rich in vitamin C — a dietary component necessary for the synthesis of collagen, which helps build and repair blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and bone and is therefore helpful for people with osteoarthritis. Citrus fruits are also good sources of inflammation-fighting antioxidants, so start your day with a glass of orange juice, have half a grapefruit for a snack, and squeeze lime or lemon juice on foods when you’re cooking to take advantage of the healing power of citrus.
- Berries: These little fruits pack powerful antioxidant compounds like ellagic acid and proanthocyanidins, which fight cell damage and inflammation. Because the compounds vary from berry to berry, add a variety of them into your diet.
- Ginger: Ginger contains compounds that function in much the same way as anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Ginger can easily be added to stir fry’s, tea, or eaten pickled with sushi.
- Cherries: According to a recent study, tart cherries are a good source of anthocyanins, which may have a stronger anti-inflammatory effect than aspirin. Though more research needs to be done, adding cherries to your dietary intake will not hurt.
- Pineapple: Pineapple is rich in vitamin C and the enzyme bromelain, which has been linked to decreased pain and swelling in both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Green Tea: Like produce, this tea contains anti-inflammatory flavonoids that may even help reduce the risks of certain cancers.
- Garlic and Onions: Garlic and Onions can help reduce inflammation, regulate glucose and help your body fight infection.
- Orange-Colored Vegetables: Carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash are rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene, which both fight inflammation. Cooking seems to increase the availability of these compounds- so eat them in large quantities.
- Turmeric: This powerful Asian spice contains a natural anti-inflammatory compound, curcumin, which is often found in curry blends. It is said to have the same effect as over-the counter pain relievers (but without their side effects).
- Whole Grains: Whole grains are simply grains that still have all three parts of the original grain — the outside hull and the two inner parts. And it’s in the hull where most grains’ nutrients, like vitamin E, reside. Switch from white bread to 100-percent whole wheat, and from regular pasta to whole grain pasta (to read more reasons to make the switch, we wrote an article about it here).
- Kelp: High in fiber, this brown algae extract helps control liver and lung cancer, douses inflammation, and is anti-tumor and anti-oxidative. Kombu, wakame and arame are good sources.
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