Anti and Pro-Inflammatory Foods
When your body detects an intruder, such as bacteria, a virus, a thorn, or another harmful object, it will dispense white blood cells to eradicate the potentially harmful object. This will cause the inflammation you are used to seeing, redness, swelling, and heat are common. A similar situation happens inside your body when fighting colds, flus, and even COVID-19.
With a healthy anti-inflammatory diet, inflammation can go away when the intruder has been eradicated. However, with a pro-inflammatory diet, the inflammation will stay in the body and become chronic inflammation. This can turn into diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis. Read on to find what foods are helpful for a healthy body and what can increase inflammation, leading to chronic diseases such as Type 1 diabetes, ulcerative colitis, and multiple sclerosis.
Kelp contains fucoidan, a type of complex carbohydrate that is anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, and anti-oxidative. A few studies on fucoidan in recent years have found promising results in using the brown algae extract to control liver and lung cancer and to promote collagen synthesis. The high fiber content of kelp also helps to induce fullness, low-fat absorption and promote weight loss. When possible, be sure to get only organic kelp harvested from the unpolluted sea.
TIP: Go easy on your seaweed snacks as they can be heavily salted and coated with a thick layer of vegetable oil, a pro-inflammatory ingredient.
This Asian spice commonly found in pre-mixed curry powder contains a powerful, non-toxic compound called curcumin. Studies found that turmeric anti-inflammatory effects are on a par with potent drugs such as hydrocortisone and Motrin, but yet have none of their side effects.
Wild Caught Salmon
Salmon is an excellent source of Omega-3 Acids. Backed by numerous studies, they range from preventing heart disease and some cancers to reducing symptoms of autoimmune diseases and psychological disorders. Try to include this in your diet twice a week. If salmon is not to your taste, you can also get Omega-3 Fatty Acids from high-quality fish oil supplements.
TIP: Anchovies, Mackerel, and Sardines are also rich sources of OMega-3 Fats. Flax Seeds and Walnuts also supply Omega-3 Fats.
Shiitake Mushrooms are revered for their auto immune-boosting properties and their mild smoky taste. Be sure however you are not eating these as deep-fried mushrooms, putting them in a hot pot of oil will allow the mushroom to soak up cancer-causing compounds and the healing powers will be diminished by the high temperatures.
TIP: Maitake, Enaki, and Oyster Mushrooms are also great ways to fight cancer and enhance your health.
The Flavonoids in green tea are potent natural anti-inflammatory compounds that have been shown in numerous studies to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
TIP: when drinking green tea, try to stay away from processed cow’s milk. Non-organic milk carries antibiotics and growth hormone residues that can irritate the immune system when they are consumed long-term.
Papaya contains papain which is a protein-digesting enzyme. Together with other nutrients such as vitamin C and E, papain helps to reduce inflammation and improves digestion.
TIP: it's important to eat fresh fruit. Any canned or preserved fruits will contain high levels of chemicals such as sulfur dioxide, a preservative that has been linked to increased respiratory disease. Eat fresh whenever you can, but if you must eat canned fruits be sure to choose ones that are preservative-free.
An antioxidant powerhouse, blueberries are high in phytonutrients that confer anti-inflammatory protection against many diseases such as cancer and dementia. Some comparable alternatives would be blackberries, cranberries, goji berries, strawberries, and raspberries.
TIP: Berries are often sprayed with pesticides because insects and fungi live as much as we do. It is hard to wash away pesticides prior to consumption so it is important to opt for organic or wildcrafted versions as much as possible.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Its rich supply of polyphenols protects the heart and blood vessels from inflammation. The monounsaturated fats in olive oil are also turned into anti-inflammatory agents by the body that can lower occurrences of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Avocado oil works just as well!
Broccoli is a highly nutritious vegetable that contains anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer phytonutrients. These help the body get rid of potentially carcinogenic compounds.
TIP: Nightshade Vegetables such as tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants contain high levels of alkaloid which is a substance that may affect joint, nerve, and muscle function.
This is a good source of complex carbohydrates, beta-carotene manganese, vitamin B6 and C. These nutrients are powerful antioxidants that help to heal inflammation in the body.
TIP: This only works for fresh sweet potatoes. Processed potatoes such as chips or fries are loaded with the risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes with the ingredients used for preparation.
Sugar-laden foods can cause tooth decay and have been linked to increased risks of obesity, inflammation, and chronic diseases. You can find them in soft drinks, punches, desserts, candies, and snacks,
TIP: Sugar can go by many names including corn syrup, dextrose, maltodextrin, fructose, golden syrup, maltose, sorghum, and sucrose.
2. Common Cooking Oils
Generic cooking oils contain very high levels of Omega-6 fatty acids and very low Omega-3 fats that your body needs. A diet containing this imbalance will promote inflammatory diseases like heart diseases and cancer. You'll find these in oils such as cottonseed, safflower, corn, and sunflower.
3. Trans Fats
These increase the level of ‘bad’ cholesterol while lowering levels of the ‘good’ cholesterol. They have also been found to promote inflammation, obesity, and resistance to insulin.
TIP: You’ll find these in deep-fried foods, fast foods, commercial baked goods, and those prepared with partially hydrogenated oil, margarine, and vegetable shortening.
4. Dairy Products
Milk is an allergen that can trigger inflammatory responses, such as stomach distress, constipation, diarrhea, skin rashes, acne, hives, and breathing difficulties in susceptible people.
5. Feedlot-Raised Meat
Commercially produced meats are fed with grain-like soybeans and corn, a diet that's high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids but low in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. Worse, to make them grow faster and prevent them from getting sick, they are also administered with hormones and antibiotics.
TIP: Unless otherwise stated, all meat in supermarkets and restaurants is feedlot-raised. Try looking for Organic, free-range, grass-fed notes when shopping.
6. Red Meat and Processed Meat
These contain a molecule the body doesn't naturally produce called Neu5Gc. After eating red or processed meat the body develops anti-Neu5Gc, which is an immune response that may trigger chronic inflammatory responses.
Regular High consumption of alcohol has been known to cause irritation and inflammation of the esophagus, larynx (the voice box), and liver. For best results, try to swap all alcohol consumption with water or tea!
TIP: Can't swap alcohol? Limit consumption to no more than one drink a day.