Inflammation is a normal response to injury in the body, but not all inflammation is created equal. Acute sports injury? Yes, this is a normal inflammatory response. Being overweight? No. This would be considered a chronic inflammatory response.
Obesity-related inflammation contributes to the development of diabetes.
Specifically, having excess fat around your organs can really put a lot of stress and strain on those vital organs. These fat cells send off signals to increase your insulin resistance. Simply put, being overweight is stress to your body and stress increases your blood sugar. It’s important to start at the root of the cause, and this is often our eating patterns.
Foods high in processed sugar and saturated fat can spur inflammation. It can cause the normal immune response to go into overdrive – which can increase joint pain, fatigue, and damage to the blood vessels.
Antioxidants are natures anti-inflammatory powerhouse! It’s important to include a variety of these in your diet daily.
Top Foods High in Antioxidants
1. Fatty Fish
Oily fish, like salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines, are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help reduce inflammation. To get the benefits, however, you need to eat fish several times a week, and it should be cooked in healthy ways (ex: bake, broil ..etc). Don’t like fish? Try fish-oil supplements.
2. Soluble Fiber
Fiber acts like a broom in our systems that helps “sweep” out bad particles in our body. This includes inflammation. Whole grains have more fiber, which has been shown to reduce levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation in the blood, and they usually have less added sugar.
Particularly almonds, which are rich in fiber, calcium, and vitamin E, and walnuts, which have high amounts of alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fat. All nuts, though, are packed with antioxidants, which can help your body fight off and repair the damage caused by inflammation.
This vegetable’s brilliant red color is a tip-off to its equally brilliant antioxidant properties. Beets (and beetroot juice) have been shown to reduce inflammation, as well as protect against cancer and heart disease, thanks to their hearty helping of fiber, vitamin C and plant pigments called betalains.
5. Ginger and Tumeric
These spices have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. Put raw, peeled ginger in your water. Add tumeric to roasted cauliflower or sweet potatoes.
This food has been shown to work similarly to NSAID pain medications (like ibuprofen), shutting off the pathways that leads to inflammation. Garlic contains a compound called allicin, which breaks down to produce free radical-fighting sulfenic acid. From a medical history standpoint, the antibacterial and antiviral properties of garlic are perhaps its most legendary feature. SO eat up!
All fruits can help fight inflammation, because they’re low in fat and calories and high in antioxidants. But berries, especially, have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties—possibly because of anthocyanins, the powerful chemicals that gives them their rich color.
8. Chia & Flax Seeds
Plant-based Omega-3s. Two components in flaxseed, ALA and lignans, may reduce the inflammation by helping block the release of certain pro-inflammatory agents. Chia seeds also contain a fair amount of Omega-3 fatty acids and are super high in fiber (see #2). Eat up!
Cha – Cha – Cha – CHIA!
—>A little more focus on Chia seeds: these are an unprocessed, whole-grain food that can be absorbed by the body as seeds (unlike flax seeds). One ounce (about 2 TBSP) contains 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of healthy fat, 12 grams of carbohydrates and 11 grams of fiber, plus a ton of vitamins and minerals.
Chia seeds readily dissolve into water, creating a substance that looks like gelatin. This gel-forming action is due to the soluble fiber in the Chia seed. Researchers believe that Chia seeds slow the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar – ultimately benefiting anyone with diabetes.
Make sure you don’t miss out on my –> overnight oatmeal recipe –> that includes these anti-inflammatory foods.
Which antioxidant foods are your favorite?