5 Foods to Decrease Inflammation
Do you wake in the morning feeling stiff and sore, or maybe you feel like that all day long? Are you struggling with arthritis and haven't really found a way to decrease the pain? Sometimes, we're not really looking in the right places. And so, today we're going to discuss what that might look like.
My name is Marcie Vaske. I'm a functional medicine nutritionist specializing in gut health, and I see a lot of clients that struggle with bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation, just to name a few.
And so if that sounds like you or maybe even someone you know and love, you can easily make an initial appointment with us. Or if you're the kind of person who likes to get started on their own, you can download our free guide, which is Five Ways to Improve Gut Health. So let's dig into today's topic.
Today we are going to explore five foods to decrease inflammation and arthritis. Now, it's sometimes good to have inflammation, right? Inflammation is both good and bad. So let it start off with inflammation.
Now, inflammation can be both good and bad. Inflammation is there to protect us by helping our body defend itself from injury or infection. But, if there's chronic inflammation going on in your body, that's where disease comes from.
Things that increase that inflammation can look like stress, chronic stress, and foods that might be inflaming you. So first we're going to run through foods that we want to get rid of that might be causing inflammation and increasing this pain in our body.
And then we're going to run through some foods that are going to be things you can replace them with, healthy foods that are going to decrease inflammation and arthritis pain for you.
Foods that might be increasing inflammation and arthritis pain for you are going to be things like ultra-processed foods, fast foods, frozen meals, and processed meats. And what happens is that they increase a higher level of inflammatory markers in our body, which is called the C R P.
Fried foods, (which are partially hydrogenated oils that contain trans fats) can damage our cell membranes. They have been linked through research to increase inflammation in our bodies.
Other foods that are going to increase inflammation and arthritic pain are sugars. So if you're eating refined carbohydrates that can cause inflammation.
You may have noticed that when you're kind of eating some of those ultra-processed foods or maybe even eating more sugar, you start to feel like your joints get sore or they feel more inflamed, and that's a direct correlation to what you're eating.
So just to sum that up, things or foods that increase inflammation and arthritic pain are processed foods. This includes things like refined carbohydrates, white bread, white rice, crackers, biscuits, and fried foods.
That even includes; french fries, cheese curds, sugar-sweetened beverages, soda, you name it. And, as you know, soda is one of the hardest things to get rid of.
Once we get on the soda pop train, we increase inflammation in our body due to all the processed sugars that are in it, or refined sugars. As well as things like processed meats. Think hot dogs or ham for example.
Coming back to the trans fats that we mentioned earlier, this can include things like shortenings and even margarine. Simple things that can be hidden in all kinds of different foods.
The good thing is, is that there are foods that can decrease your inflammation!
Now that we know what to look out for and try to avoid, we want to focus on what we can eat to decrease inflammation and arthritic pain in our bodies.
5 Foods to Decrease Inflammation
Let's go into the top five foods for inflammation.
Number one on the list is berries. Berries are these beautiful little fruits that are packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The most common berries that you will likely find around you are around are strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries.
Berries contain a special antioxidant that's called Anthocyanin. Anthocyanin is a compound that has an anti-inflammatory effect on our body, which can help to reduce disease.
There was a study done on blueberry powder where individuals consumed it every single day. What they found is that they produce significantly more natural killer cells than those individuals who didn't consume blueberry powder every day.
What happens when you consume a compound like this, is that your body naturally makes these natural killer cells and the berries help increase them. Not only do they help to improve our immune systems but they also keep them running and functioning properly. So, adding berries into your diet can reduce disease inflammation (bad inflammation) and increase this natural killer cells.
There was also study done on adults who had excess weight, and those who consumed strawberries on a regular basis versus those who didn't, had lower levels of certain inflammatory markers that were associated with heart disease.
It is easy to add in a few berries to your diet. Try taking out those refined carbohydrates or those refined sugars, and add in some berries for sweetness!
Number two on our list is fatty fish. Fatty fish are filled with these beautiful omega-3s that help to decrease inflammation and arthritic pain in the body. The best sources of of fatty fish are salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines.
These fish are filled EPA and DHA fats. EPA and DHA help reduce inflammation.
Your body metabolizes these fatty acids into compounds that are called resolvins and protectins, and those compounds have an anti-inflammatory effect on our body.
What's cool is that studies have found that people consuming salmon or any of those fatty fish that I mentioned, have an increased load of EPA and DHA, and have experienced reductions in our C reactive protein, which is CRP in our inflammatory marker in our body.
So just adding good fatty fish into your daily, or even weekly, dietary plan is going to increase the those good omega-3s and decrease that inflammation.
Number three on our list is broccoli. Broccoli is extremely nutritious and is a cruciferous vegetable.
Broccoli fits in the same family as cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, and research has found that cruciferous vegetables are associated with decreased heart risk and heart disease and even cancer. It is also filled with something called sulforaphane.
Sulforaphane is an antioxidant that decreases inflammation by reducing the levels of cytokines in your body. And those cytokines are molecules that drive inflammation. So when you eat more broadly you are decreasing cytokines, and that decreases inflammation in the body.
It's pretty easy to add some broccoli in or even other cruciferous vegetables into your body. If you don't like broccoli, which is the most nutritious one of all of them all, you can try out cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, or even Kale. Try adding these into your meals, even when taking out.
Number four on our list is avocados. Now avocados are packed with potassium, magnesium, fiber, and wonderful monounsaturated fats. And all of those things help to decrease inflammation in the body.
They also contain something called carcinoids and tocopherols, which are linked to reducing the risk of cancer. Now, in addition to all of these wonderful things, there are compounds in avocados that can actually reduce inflammation by forming new skin cells.
There was a study done on individuals who ate avocados for 12 weeks and what they found is that there was reduction in their inflammatory markers, which is that CRP that we were talking about earlier.
So, by adding in some avocado daily or weekly, that's going to again help decrease inflammation and arthritic pain in the body. Try adding in avocados to your salad, snacking veggies with guacamole, and avocados on your toast with an egg.
So easy to add avocado into may meals.
Number four on our list is mushrooms. Mushrooms probably aren't the first things that come to mind when you're thinking of inflammation, but mushrooms are great for reducing it!
There ARE tons of different kinds of mushrooms out there! Portobello, truffles, shiitake, just to name a few. And what makes them so amazing is that they contain phenols and other antioxidants that help decrease inflammation because it has that anti-inflammatory protection.
Now, one very special mushroom, is called lion's mane. Lion's mane the ability to reduce low grade inflammation related to obesity. So if you like mushrooms, go get a bucket of 'em or a container of 'em. Throw them on your salad, throw 'em in your stir fries, and eat 'em up, because those are wonderful for decreasing that inflammation in the body.
Number five on our list is dark chocolate and cocoa. Yum! No problems adding that in, right? What makes dark chocolate and cocoa so amazing with decreasing inflammation is that it is packed with antioxidants which help with reducing inflammation.
Now what makes chocolate so amazing is the flavanols in it. Flavanols are responsible for chocolate's, anti-inflammatory effects, and they help keep the endothelial cells in our bodies that line our arteries super healthy.
Now, one fun fact is that there was a study done that took people who consumed 350 milligrams of cocoa flavanols twice daily. It actually improved their vascular function in just two weeks.
So that's just one more reason to sit down with a couple ounces of chocolate and enjoy it. You're increasing your vascular health as well as decreasing inflammation in the body. Now you might be thinking, well, I like chocolate, but can I have milk chocolate?
The best percentage for getting those great benefits is somewhere around 70 to 80% cocoa, and that's where you're really going to get that big increase in anti-inflammatory effects.
So keep in mind, these are five that we talked about today, but of course just having a well-balanced diet with lots of good proteins, healthy fats, and healthy carbohydrates, are going to keep you less inflamed no matter what. But adding in those five foods might just give you a little edge!
If you'd like to explore any of this information further or obtain an individualized nutrition plan, you can schedule an initial appointment at our clinic. We also take insurance and some of our clients get full coverage, which is great.
Or you can start by just downloading our FREE GUIDE: 5 Ways to Improve Gut Health.