When I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, I opted to treat my condition naturally by eating an anti-inflammatory diet. I have since noticed that my autoimmune symptoms are improved, and I feel healthier and stronger than I have in years. I believe that shifting to an anti-inflammatory diet has placed me firmly on the road to healing.
Inflammation can be an extremely powerful, necessary function that is a key component of the body's healing response by ensuring that adequate immune activity is delivered to an area that is injured or under attack. Yet, there is a darker side to inflammation. When inflammation extends beyond the boundaries of the affected area, or is present for prolonged periods of time, the results can be devastating.
Chronic inflammation has been found to be associated with just about every health condition and researchers are avidly investigating chronic inflammation’s impact on health. Although inflammation has long been known to play a role in allergic diseases like asthma, arthritis and Crohn’s, it is now understood that Alzheimer’s, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, elevated cholesterol levels, and Parkinson’s disease may all be related to chronic inflammation in the body.
Chronic stress, poor diet and environmental toxins all contribute to an “inflammatory lifestyle,” yet, we can have control over how much of these things we are exposed to, and modifying your diet is easily the most powerful choice you can make to impact your inflammatory status.
Eight Inflammation Fighting Foods
By eating clean, unprocessed foods, you supply your body with the nutrients required to increase your body's defense against chronic inflammation. Here are eight of my favorites:
The ruby red color of this root vegetable is a big clue that beets are an excellent source of unique phytonutrients. Evidence shows that these compounds have have anti-inflammatory properties which inhibit the activity of certain enzymes that trigger inflammation. There have been numerous studies on the anti-inflammatory benefits beets for lowering inflammation in heart disease and in other body system. Betaine, an important phytonutrient found in beets, has been associated with lower levels of several inflammatory markers when eaten regularly.
The ginger root has been used for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, this spicy ingredient contains the phytonutrient gingerol, which works as a potent anti-inflammatory agent, reducing pain associated with inflammatory diseases such as osteoarthritis. It is also good for treating digestive complaints such as nausea, can fight bacterial infections, has anticoagulant properties, and boosts the immune system.
A member of the cruciferous family of vegetables, broccoli is a highly nutritious vegetable that contains anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer phytonutrients such as sulforaphane. Lab studies have found that sulforaphane may block enzymes linked to joint destruction and inhibit inflammation. Broccoli is abundant in vitamin K, which in high amounts may slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
A relative of ginger, turmeric is an ancient root long recognized for it’s healing properties. A multitude of studies have shown turmeric’s effectiveness in treating chronic pain and inflammation. In one study, curcumin, turmeric’s medicinal compound, was compared to to commonly used anti-inflammatory drugs. It was found that curcumin was among the most potent anti-inflammatory agents in the world. Turmeric has shown great promise for helping people manage symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and other similar conditions.
This traditional food is becoming widely recognized for being nutrient dense, easy to digest, and amazing healing virtues. The gelatin in bone broth is rich in minerals that support the immune system and contains healing amino acids like collagen, glutamine, glycine, and proline. Collagen can heal the gut lining and reduce intestinal inflammation, and is useful for “leaky gut” and the autoimmune disorders that accompany it. Bone broth contain an array minerals in forms that your body can easily absorb, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, and sulphur. It also contains chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, the compounds sold as costly supplements to reduce inflammation, arthritis and joint pain.
These little swimmers offer a serious omega-3 hit, with one 3.2oz can of sardines providing about 50% of your daily needs. Sardines are one of the best natural sources of omega-3 fatty acids in the world, providing both EPA and DHA. The major benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are their ability to act as an anti-inflammatory, making them effective as part of a healthy diet aimed at reducing and preventing inflammation. Eating sardines, and other fatty fish such as salmon, can help protect against anxiety and depression, ADHD, arthritis, infertility, several types of cancer, and heart disease.
Coconut oil is great for cooking at high heats because of it’s high smoke point, but its use can be extended to being used as natural beauty treatments, as well as having amazing medicinal uses. Not only has coconut oil been shown to support both the liver and kidneys, evidence confirms that virgin coconut oil exhibits an inhibitory effect on chronic inflammation. As inflammation is one of the leading causes of many chronic diseases, these findings support regular consumption of virgin coconut oil to help fight inflammation.
Not all sauerkraut is created equal. Store-bought sauerkraut is cooked and pasteurized, which is good extending shelf life but not much else, while raw sauerkraut is lacto-fermented and alive with good bacteria and probiotics. Eating raw sauerkraut is great for optimizing your gut flora, which is important for a well-functioning immune system, and helps fend off chronic inflammation. It is now recognized that the majority of inflammatory diseases start in your gut as the result of an imbalanced microbiome.