High levels of inflammation in the body can be the mark of certain health conditions – interstitial cystitis, irritable bowel diseases, celiac disease, gout, and many more. This is usually found through a simple blood test, testing for C-reactive protein (CRP). Although many conditions regarding inflammation are initially difficult to diagnose, you can try to reduce inflammation through your diet until properly diagnosed and further directed by your physician.
Everyone reacts differently to different foods because of our highly complex and unique digestive systems. Dietitian and inflammation specialist Susan Linke explains that since we all react differently, “there isn’t a food that is anti-inflammatory across the board… [The LEAP protocol] is capable of eliminating 100% of a person’s inflammatory foods from their body, allowing for a significant reduction of inflammation in symptoms in a 10 day period.”
However, here are some generally suggested foods to reduce or avoid inflammation in the body:
“The most obvious is in cooking as in curries or even just to saute the onions with prior to adding anything else in. It gives not only great color, but so many benefits! Boil a piece of turmeric and use it as a tea. Also great is to add ginger or lemon for extra anti-inflammatory benefits.My personal go-to is a cold-pressed shot. You can find this at practically all cold pressed juiceries. Just ask for a shot!”
2. Olive Oil
Psychologist Eva Glasrud suggests olive oil as a natural anti-inflammatory. It contains an agent,
“that activates the same inflammation pathways as ibuprofen. In a paper published in Nature, Beauchamp and colleagues suggested that constant low-level doses of oleocanthal, like those found in the Mediterranean Diet, might have several health benefits, like lower levels of cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.”
3. Water Spinach
Another food that can significantly reduce inflammation and is less often noted is water spinach. Suggested by Gina Keatley, certified dietitian/nutritionist and American Ambassador of Malaysian Cuisine, explains that water spinach is,
“A Malaysian specialty that is actually more closely related to eggplant than spinach but is every bit as nutritious. Water spinach has a unique mixture of phytonutrients, is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory components which help protect against cellular damage. Not only is this vegetable anti-inflammatory, it is very filling and even has one gram of protein per ounce.”
Registered Dietitian Colleen Hurley suggests broccoli. “One powerhouse of a vegetable, broccoli contains many disease-fighting compounds along with the flavonoid kaempferol, which is linked to decreased inflammation.” An easy way to incorporate broccoli into your dinner is a simple stir-fry. Author of healthy cookbooks Holly Clegg suggests the following recipe:
Honey Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry
2 cups broccoli florets
1 red pepper, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 egg whites plus 1 tablespoon water
1/3 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, cut in chunks or strips
1 cup edamame
1/4 cup honey
1-2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
These are measured to make six (one cup) servings.
- In large nonstick skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, add broccoli, red pepper and garlic, sauté about 5 minutes. Remove to plate.
- In two separate shallow bowls, put egg whites with water and cornstarch. In same skillet, heat olive oil. When skillet is hot, dip chicken pieces in egg whites and then lightly dredge in cornstarch. Add to skillet and brown 2-3 minutes, then turn and continue cooking and stirring until chicken is browned and done, 5-7 minutes.
- Add reserved vegetables and edamame to skillet with chicken. Add honey and soy sauce, stirring until chicken is thoroughly coated and mixture heated. Season to taste.
Tsippora Shainhouse, MD treats many patients for chronic inflammatory diseases. She suggests cherries and fatty fish. She explains,
“Anthocyanins are antioxidants found in red and purple fruits and vegetables and are helpful in reducing the inflammation of arthritis and the frequency of flares of gout. It is found in strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, but cherries have the highest levels of all.”
6. Fatty Fish
Dr. Shainhouse also suggests fatty fish as an anti-inflammatory.
“Salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines are fatty fish that contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce inflammation in the body and skin. 2-3 servings a week can also help reduce LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Adding these fish to the diet help balance the omega-3: omega-6 fatty ratio, the latter of which can actually trigger inflammation. Fish oil supplements can substitute for eating these healthful, fatty fish.”