What’s the Chief Cause of Inflammation in the body?
Inflammation is an immune response to damage or an injury in the body. It’s supposed to help your body ward off infections, and it usually works.
But in some cases, your body ends up working against itself. You can end up in a state of chronic inflammation.
Not good, my friend.
Sometimes, it’s a preexisting condition or disease that you can’t control.
Other times, you are causing or worsening inflammation with the foods you eat.
This includes, but isn’t necessarily limited to:
- fried foods
- refined flour
- dairy products
- sat fats
- grain-fed and processed meats
- trans fats
All things that can get into your system cause cell and tissue damage.
And the kicker?
Most of this shit resides in foods that you like to eat every day
Damn. What a drag.
But it doesn’t have to be.
Below, I’ve compiled a list of foods that you can find easily at your local health or grocery store.
They’re all rich in nutrients and antioxidants that help your body fight inflammation.
We’ll talk a lot about antioxidants and free-radicals…
Free radicals are some of the worst offenders when it comes to chronic inflammation.
A free radical is a “reactive atom…that has one or more unpaired electrons”.
They suck because they can mess up your cells by messing with their chemical structure. When this happens, your body has to send a bunch of cytokines to get rid of all dead or dying cells. And then you have yourself a lovely case of inflammation.
The way you fight them is with antioxidants.
An antioxidant “inhibits oxidation or reactions promoted by oxygen, peroxides, or free radicals“.
Now that’s said and done, let’s get this showboat on the road.
Here are 14 things that’ll help you lower inflammation inside of your body…
Matcha Green Tea
Most of us can agree that green tea is the shit. But if you haven’t heard of matcha by now, you might be living under a rock. It’s only the best thing since sliced bread, but who’s keeping track, eh?
I started drinking matcha while trying to get off of coffee. I ain’t gonna lie to you, I still LOVE a good Cup o’ Joe, but only as a treat. Matcha is what I drink daily.
Why? Because matcha tea tastes and feels much cleaner. Coffee can be very acidic, and thus, very inflammatory. Or at least a MAJOR offender of an unfortunate sensation called “gut rot”.
Yep, that’s right. Coffee gave me the bubble guts. Real talk. I got no reason to lie to you.
Matcha fixed this while giving me that energy boost I needed to get through the day. NONE of the caffeine jitters. Can’t tell you how happy that made me.
This is because of all the antioxidants in green tea.
Green tea is already rich in antioxidants called catechins. But because of the processes most green tea goes through, it doesn’t keep as many of its natural nutrients.
Matcha green tea is different. Why?
- It’s grown and dried in the shade. Most green teas are dried in the sun.
- The leaves get ground into a fine powder and stirred into warm water. You drink the whole leaf rather than throwing it away with a bag.
So with matcha, most if not all the natural nutrients remain intact. That makes it a superfood.
And because it’s anti-inflammatory properties, it’s good for metabolism and pain relief.
It also keeps you looking young, fit, and fresh.
For anyone who’s ever complimented me on my skin, this is one of my best kept “secrets”.
As in, it’s not a secret at all, but I bet you didn’t think about it.
THIS is what keeps me from looking tired and puffy even when I totally am.
I also think this is what’s kept me “skinny”. Or at least kept most unwanted weight off.
I’m kind of lazy when it comes to working hard in the gym, but I’m VERY health conscious. I’ve been drinking this every morning before breakfast for about a year now and I’m pretty happy with the results. Even though I’ve been slacking over the last few months, I still feel good about my body.
So if you’re having problems with inflammation, consider switching to matcha. It’s totally worth it.
Cacao and Dark Chocolate
Chocolate Lovers, rejoice!
That’s right, CHOCOLATE reduces inflammation!
Slow down, Skippy. I’m not saying that any old Hershey bar will stop your aches and pains. And I’m certainly not telling you to go apeshit and eat a million of the damn things.
What I AM telling you is that if you like super rich, dark chocolate, you’ve got a delicious antioxidant mine.
To reap all the benefits, though, you’ll want to make sure that you’re eating raw or 70-80% cacao. Too much sugar in your chocolate defeats the purpose.
But small amounts of pure cacao or chocolate in your diet can keep you healthy and vital.
I also hear that chocolate makes you happy.
Well, duh, but actually. It helps your body create happy hormones that keep your mood up.
Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries
I don’t mean to brag, but I may be young forever. I eat these at least a couple of times a week. They’re so juicy and delicious.
You know how a bowl full of berries always seems to look so pretty? It could just be me, but I’ve always loved bright multi-colored berries together. Kind of makes your mouth water, huh?
The bright colors are due to all the antioxidants.
They also have essential vitamins for your immune system. I’m not rubbing it in, but I’m sick, like, once a year.
The amount of fruit I eat kind of keeps it from happening.
Between the vitamins and the antioxidants, you ward off inflammatory diseases and infection.
Plus, they go nicely with chocolate.
Can you imagine? A nice dessert of fresh mixed berries dipped in melted dark chocolate?
And it’s good for you?
Dude, if you don’t take advantage of this, you’re depriving yourself. Get it together.
Delicious and nutritious.
Kind of an acquired taste; you have to LIKE it. But if you do, then you’re in luck, because it’s damn good for you.
Sometimes people don’t connect the dots, but a whopping 70% of your immune system is in your intestinal tract. You’ve got to make sure that it can handle anything you throw at it.
Garlic contains a little organosulfur compound called allicin. When you digest it, it makes sulfenic acid, which is important for 3 things:
- Fighting free radicals
- Lowering systemic inflammation
- Fighting infection
This is what makes garlic antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal.
So don’t be afraid to pile it on; garlic is good for you.
Now, your breath…
Anyone else love ginger tea? I do.
I used to love soaking minced ginger root in boiling water for a sore throat. It took down the swelling and irritation in my glands, made it easier for me to sleep at night.
In general, ginger promotes healing and makes your system release anti-inflammatory compounds. For real, this stuff is magical.
It promotes gut and digestive health, too.
And it’s SOO versatile. You can cook it into sweet AND savory dishes, so you never run out of ways to include it in your diet.
If you like curry, that’s what I’d recommend.
I’ve talked about these things in last Friday’s blog post about vegan protein sources. Check that one out, too, if you get the chance.
Other than being a great source of protein, they’re also a great source of omega-3s. You need both, especially as a vegan.
The omega-3s are great for lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and systemic inflammation. But what I don’t talk about in last Friday’s blog post is the number of antioxidants in chia seeds:
ALL these reduce inflammation in the body.
And I just thought of something…
Remember that chocolate berry dessert idea I had earlier? Scratch that, throw all that stuff in a blender with some chia seeds.
HELLO, delicious antioxidant chocolate shake.
Now people can stop making fun of us vegans for wreaking of kale. They probs won’t, but it’s nice to think it’ll happen someday.
But let the haters hate, because kale keeps you from becoming a puffy, inflamed mess.
And you start to like it after a while.
Like berries, antioxidants are what give leafy greens their colorful appearance.
You benefit most from eating them raw or steamed, and sauteed is good, too. But sometimes, you just aren’t feeling it. I still get that way sometimes and I’ve been doing this for like a year now.
When that feeling crops up, throw them thangs into a fruit smoothie. Raw, healthy, delicious.
Loaded with some of the best antioxidants for fighting inflammation:
Beta-carotene and manganese.
Great for chronic inflammatory diseases, like arthritis, in particular.
Get them in whatever way you can, but I love them baked. The oven makes them all juicy and crispy at the same time. Gives them a caramel-like flavor.
In the recent months, I’ve stumbled upon a recipe for a loaded and baked sweet potato that I can’t get enough of. Unfortunately, I didn’t save the video and haven’t been able to find it since (FML). But it’s easy enough to do.
Bake a sweet potato for about 50 min- 1 hr at about 450 degrees. (Don’t quote me on that, I just eyeball it myself. Do what works best in your oven.) You want it to be soft enough to split down the center and mash a little with a fork.
You then load it with berries, chopped banana, a sprinkle of chia seeds, and some peanut butter sauce. (Peanut butter sauce= organic peanut butter mixed with lemon or lime until you can drizzle it on top).
I’ve been obsessed with it since I found it and now you can be, too.
Sea Vegetables/Edible Algae
I bet most people gag at the thought of eating seaweed, but not me.
Nori sheets are a great snack, especially when dusted with wasabi…*drool*.
And veggie sushi? Pretty sure it’s my spirit animal. I’m getting hungry thinking about it.
Sea vegetables are seriously underrated. They’re rich in iron, iodine, and other minerals that we need to fight high blood sugar. They also have antioxidant alkaloids as well as flavonoids and carotenoids. Most vegetables only have the latter two.
Kelp is the most common kind of edible seaweed. There’s also Irish Moss and Nori (which I mentioned before).
If you want something you can sneak in every now and then, go for spirulina. It’s a deep blue or green color, comes in powder form, and goes wonderfully in a fruit smoothie.
You can make lattes out of it, too ;).
An acquired taste, for sure, but TOTALLY worth the benefits.
If you can learn to love them, you should. As for me, no learning needed. I’ve liked mushrooms since before I can remember. Hearty, juicy, and satisfying, but there’s more to them than their unique taste.
We’ve been using mushrooms for thousands of years in medicine. They’re great for fighting cancer, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and other things. They’re incredibly anti-inflammatory, with nutrient content comparable to leafy greens.
I’m remembering pizza I got at HomeSlyce with kale and portobello on it. Damn, it was tasty. But I’m just now realizing how healthy it was for a pizza…
I know what I’m eating when I get back home to America.
But anyway, here’s a little list of the best anti-inflammatory mushrooms. Take a look at it and see if any are the kind you like. If you’re not sure, try ‘em all and pick your favorite later!
- Caterpillar Fungus
- Bamboo Fungus
- Almond Mushroom
- Lion’s Mane
I can’t rave about these enough. They’ve definitely earned the title Nature’s Candy. SO good. In fact, hang on a sec, I’m gonna go grab my box of dates…
Back again, dates in tow. Let’s talk about anti-inflammation.
And they taste like fucking candy. You can even use them as a guilt-free sweetener.
Honestly, why WOULDN’T you eat these things? Unless you totally object to being healthy, which, you know, I guess that’s on you.
Herbs and Spices
We already know that antioxidants fight free-radicals, but what about the nutrients? How do they keep away inflammation?
Easy. They stop the body from producing inflammatory substances. For instance, as important as proteins are, I bet you had no idea that they’re also inflammatory, did ya?
Yeah. Too much protein is actually bad for you. Especially because your body produces some proteins on its own.
But don’t worry. With the right amount of nutrients and antioxidants, you can regulate this.
That’s why herbs and spices are important in a well-balanced diet.
They have a high concentration of this stuff, to the point that they rival even some of the foods on this list.
Like ginger, I love to get most of these in thru herbal teas. (Or tisanes, as some people prefer to call them.)
I did a blog post about it last Wellness Wednesday, which you can check out in the link ^ above.
We’re often told that grains are bad for you. I’m gonna debunk that right now.
First, anything that you eat too much of can work against you. Second, it’s not the grains that are bad for you, it’s what we do to them.
Until we crack them open or grind them up, the entire grain is intact. Without the outer casing, we digest the inner part of the grain pretty fast. This is what causes spikes in blood sugar and inflammation.
But when the casing is intact, it takes longer to digest. Your blood sugar stays low and the risk of diabetes or high blood pressure is slimmer.
In short, stay away from flour or ground up wheat. Even “whole wheat” flour (it’s a lie…it’s all a lie…). The exposed starches digest faster and screw up your body.
Here’s a list of whole grains to keep your eyes peeled for:
- Brown Rice
- Wheat Berries
- Wild Rice
- Cracked Wheat
If you can find these in the bulk section of your local grocery store, that’s even better! You may get more bang for your buck ;).
The EASIEST one on this list.
If you do NOTHING ELSE that I’ve told you here today, at least do this one.
You need water to live. Your body can’t conduct any of its necessary chemical processes without it. About 60-65% of the average human body is water, so it’s crucial to stay hydrated.
It also cleanses the body. When you eat too much of something or you’re retaining a lot of toxins, water flushes it out.
You should be getting at least 60oz of H2O daily, if not more, depending on your activity level.
And if you drink coffee or tea, you might wanna lean towards more. I’m talkin’ 60oz of filtered, clean, fresh water.
Between this and my matcha lattes, I know I’m helping my insides stay clean. Can you say the same?
Now It’s Your Turn
Think you can integrate something new into your diet?
Why don’t you try with one of these foods?
That’s the challenge for this post: try something on this list that you haven’t tried before.
Some of them are pretty common, but some of them aren’t.
And life is all about trying new things.
So try something new and see if you can incorporate it into your current diet.
Maybe it’ll be that spirulina smoothie. Or maybe it’ll just be drinking an extra 8-16 oz of water a day. You decide your limit and work with it.
Comment what you end up doing below!