Foods to Beat Inflammation, Lose Weight, and Protect Your Brain! Inflammation is believed to cause virtually every health problem, including acne, Alzheimer’s, digestive complications, and obesity. Several studies have attested to this theory.
Despite the adverse effects, there is also a positive side to inflammation. Namely, when your body detects an illness or injury, the immune system goes into full throttle, sending lymphatic fluid, white blood cells, and T cells to the scene. Likewise, blood and waterflood in to eliminate toxins and flush the area. This action by antibodies leads to increased circulation, swelling, and even pain, all of which help your body defend itself against infection and illness.
Inflammation happens internally to combat infections and disease. It also occurs externally in response to bruises, bumps, scratches, and scrapes.
This kind of inflammation is known as acute inflammation, and it’s a quick response that ends once the injury has healed. On the other hand, according to researchers, we have chronic inflammation, which is caused by eating the wrong kinds of foods.
Over time, chronically inflamed tissues and organs begin to degenerate, toxins accumulate, and our body organs are deprived of vital nutrients. In the end, all of this takes its toll, potentially damaging your intestines, kidneys, heart, joints, skin, pancreas, and bones.
Elson Hass MD., the author of The False Fat Diet, had this to say:
“A diet that’s high in inflammatory foods causes a constant, low-grade inflammation in the body. If the immune system is preoccupied fighting this constant inflammation, it’s not as able to help protect the body against other things that can pop up, such as abnormal cells in the breast or prostate tissue.”
“Modern diseases are merely symptoms of the underlying issue of inflammation, which is just the body trying to heal itself; the question is, ‘from what?’”
THE DIET THAT HARMS THE BODY
Generally, the foods we eat determine the health status of our bodies. Thanks to the high-stress Western lifestyles, many of us have been condemned to eating packaged or fast foods that contain no vital nutrients and are loaded with pro-inflammatory ingredients such as sugars, trans fats, processed meats, refined starches, hydrogenated oils, as well as refined sweeteners.
Regular consumption of these inflammation-inducing foods raises blood sugar and can cause your body to stop responding to fat-regulating hormones.
Barbara Rowe, the author of Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Health, says that modern convenience foods confuse the body:
“Since these foods are so new to the human diet—most having been introduced only in the last 60 to 70 years—inflammation is a natural immune response to deal with them.”
However, even if you’re not into unhealthy foods and fats, you may still have to pay attention to the ratio of good fats you consume. With packaged convenience foods, you should realize that we usually get about 30:1 balance of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory, and too much of them can lead to low-grade inflammation in the body.
According to Haas:
“This inflammation prompts the oxidizing of the LDL, or bad cholesterol, which then makes it more sticky and more likely to adhere to the artery walls, which leads to heart disease.”
Hence, you need to take more omega-3 fatty acids to counteract the damage caused by omega-6s and prevent LDL cholesterol oxidation.
OTHER CAUSES OF INFLAMMATION
An immune reaction or allergy can also occasion inflammation to various foods. Haas says,
“You might be eating healthy foods, but if your body has an allergic reaction to one of these, an immune response will trigger inflammation—usually signaled by gas, bloating, and pain.”
According to some dietitians, the nightshade family of tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes may worsen inflammation. These vegetables contain solanine, an alkaloid that can trigger joint pain in some individuals, especially those with arthritis.
Acid-alkaline imbalance in the body also causes inflammation. According to experts, an acidic pH results in toxicity that creates an inconducive environment for healing inflamed cells. To maintain an alkaline environment, you’re advised to avoid refined foods, black tea, coffee, sugar, fruit juice, and alcohol. Likewise, you should moderate your intake of dairy, meats, fruits, and grains; and maximize your intake of vegetables, beans, and spices.
FOODS TO ALLEVIATE INFLAMMATION
Fortunately, there are anti-inflammatory foods, which reduce chronic inflammation in our bodies and provide the essential building blocks for achieving and upholding a healthy weight and having more energy. Here are some of the foods that you should incorporate into your regular diet:
- Hot Peppers. Serrano, cayenne, jalapeno, and other hot chilies contain capsaicin, a natural alternative to anti-inflammatory medications. Capsaicin plays the integral role of inhibiting the COX-2 enzyme, which is known to cause inflammation in arthritis and other inflammatory ailments in the body.
- Onions and Apples. These contain quercetin, a natural histamine inhibitor that helps the body combat environmental allergies, which are known to cause inflammation.
- Pineapple. Pineapples contain bromelain, an anti-inflammatory compound that contains enzymes that have been proven to be effective in suppressing pain and inflammation in the body by easing swelling.
- Dark, Leafy Green Vegetables. They contain alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 with the same anti-inflammatory effects as the omega-3s found in fish.
- Walnuts, Flaxseeds, Pumpkinseeds. These seeds and nuts also contain omega-3s. It would be best if you went for raw nuts because temperatures destroy omega-3s in roasted nuts.
- Oily, Cold-Water Fish. These are loaded with omega-3s, which minimize the production of pro-inflammatory hormones in your body. They include salmon, mackerel, and sardines.
- Olives and Olive Oil. These contain oleic acid that has omega-9 fatty acids, which help omega-3s to do their anti-inflammatory job. It would be best if you went for strong, green, and unrefined varieties of olive that have the most anti-inflammatory properties.
Moroccan Chicken With Olives
- One yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 3/4 cup chopped parsley plus a little more for garnish
- 1/2 teaspoon mild paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- One teaspoon agave nectar or sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 cup chicken stock or water
- 6 to 8 chicken thighs, bone-in, with skins
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt (check sodium content of stock)
- Two tablespoons olive oil plus another tablespoon for drizzling
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- One teaspoon lemon zest (grated peel)
- 1/2 cup Gaeta or Kalamata olives, pits in
- Mix the parsley, onion, salt, spices, and agave nectar in a medium bowl.
- In a large skillet, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Then, add chicken in a single layer and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until it turns slightly brown.
- Add the onion and stock mixture and bring it to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to low and cover before cooking gently for 20 minutes until your chicken is tender with no traces of pink flesh.
- Place your chicken on the platter. Then, turn the heat to medium-high and allow the sauce to simmer for 2-3 minutes until reduced slightly. Afterwards, remove the pan from the heat before stirring in the lemon juice, lemon zest, and olives.
- Spoon your sauce over the chicken. Then drizzle with olive oil before garnishing with the remaining parsley.
Each serving constitutes 297 calories, 22 g fat, 72 mg cholesterol, 5 g saturated fat, 8 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 18 g protein, and 459 mg sodium.
Green and Gold Salad
- Three tablespoons unfiltered honey, softened if hard
- One tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- One tablespoon walnut oil
- Two teaspoons lemon zest (grated peel)
- One teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- Pinch ground nutmeg, pinch salt
- Dash cinnamon, dash ground ginger
- One orange or medium grapefruit
- 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced into rounds
- 6 cups baby spinach
- Pinch cinnamon (for garnish)
- 1/4 cup chopped raw walnuts
- In a small dish, whisk your dressing ingredients until emulsified.
- Arrange the spinach on a big platter and then top with the red onion rounds.
- Using a sharp knife, chop off the stem and opposite end of the orange. Then, lay the flat orange side down and slice its skin off in about 2-inch sections from top to bottom. Be careful not to remove too much of the fruit. Then, turn the orange such that the flat ends face to the side. Afterward, slice your orange into 1/4-inch rounds, and quarter each game.
- Decoratively arrange your oranges over your spinach and onions. Then, drizzle the salad generously with the dressing before sprinkling with the chopped walnuts and cinnamon.
Nutrition information per serving: 162 calories; 1 g saturated fat; 9 g fat; 22 g carbohydrates; 0 mg cholesterol; 3 g protein; 3 g fibre; 38 mg sodium
Serves 4 to 6
- 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
- 1/2 tablespoon capers
- Two tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Two cloves garlic
- One canned sardine fillet
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar (optional)
- Puree all the ingredients in a food processor or blender
Nutrition information per serving: 160.4 calories; 0.1 g fiber; 0.7 g saturated fat; 15 g fat; 2.8 mg cholesterol; 6.1 g carbohydrates; 0.6 g protein; 712.9 mg sodium
Serves 6 to 8
- 1 cup Greek or regular plain, unsweetened yogurt
- 4 to 6 tablespoons agave nectar
- One heaping cup of chopped dates
- 1/2 cup minced fresh mint leaves
- 4 cups diced fresh, ripe pineapple
- 1 cup coconut flakes
- Mix the agave nectar and yogurt in a dish
- Put the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl before gently blending in the yogurt. Leave it thus for about 10 minutes for flavors to develop before serving.
Nutrition information per serving (based on six servings): 228.1 calories; 4.9 g saturated fat; 6.4 g fat; 3.1 g protein; 5.3 mg cholesterol; 5.1 g fiber; 44.3 g carbohydrates; 24.2 mg sodium