The foods we eat can impact the level of inflammation in the body. Some foods dampen inflammation, and others may worsen inflammation. Some people use an anti-inflammatory diet to support their health and help to ease the symptoms of certain health conditions. Heavily processed foods and fried foods can increase inflammation. Fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body because they are rich in antioxidants. This is especially important as we age, but an anti-inflammatory diet can benefit all of us at any age, even helping us to lose weight and keep it off for longer. For more nutritional advice, speak to your doctor.
Benefits of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Inflammation is a good thing generally. It is the body’s natural defense against harm. However, sometimes the body overreacts, and inflammation increases when there is no harm to protect against. When inflammation happens a lot or stays for a long time, we call it chronic inflammation. There are many health conditions that cause chronic inflammation, for example, autoimmune diseases, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, and psoriasis. An anti-inflammatory diet is one which is high in antioxidants. These are molecules that remove free radicals from the body. Antioxidants help to defend the body from the damage to cells caused by free radicals. By making some changes and switching to an anti-inflammatory diet that contains plenty of antioxidants instead of foods that contribute to inflammation, many people have found that the symptoms of their health conditions have eased and that they feel an increase in general wellness, such as better energy levels, less pain, etc. Many people also swear by an anti-inflammatory diet for weight loss.
What are the Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods?
An anti-inflammatory diet is not complicated or difficult to follow. It is all about choosing the right foods, so let’s take a look at some easy changes you can make. There are lots of foods which are high in antioxidants which may reduce inflammation in the body. Here are some simple adjustments you can make if you want to choose an anti-inflammatory diet for health and weight loss:
- Swap Meat for Oily Fish – Oily or fatty fish as they are known, are packed with nutrition and essential fatty acids such as EPA and DHA, which are powerful anti-inflammatories. Try swapping other meat for salmon, sardines, or anchovies, and serve with fresh green vegetables or salad. Oily fish is a filling meal, and as well as being a great staple of the anti-inflammatory diet, it also delivers more nutritional value per calorie than other meat, so they could boost weight loss and help with any nutritional deficiencies.
- Swap Sweets for Berries – Berries are brimming with anthocyanins, which are some of the most powerful anti-inflammatories that you can consume. Berries are also great when you are trying to lose weight because they deliver the sweetness that many of us crave without the calorie load of sweet snacks and treats that are packed with refined sugar. Add berries to smoothies, cereals, yogurt and eat them as snacks to boost nutritional intake and help fight inflammation.
- Swap Coffee for Green Tea – Green tea is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, and it is also invigorating and refreshing. Swapping your coffee for green tea will boost your intake of epigallocatechin-3-gallate, more easily remembered as EGCG. This is known to reduce inflammation by tackling the production of cytokines (proteins involved in the immune response that contribute to inflammation).
- Eat Your Greens – Green vegetables are incredible for your health, and they are a weight loss superfood. Every green vegetable you eat is bringing you benefits, but some are especially useful in fighting inflammation. Cruciferous veggies such as broccoli contain high levels of antioxidants. Filling up on green veg is a great way to consume more fiber, which can help with digestion, helping the fight against inflammation, and boosting weight loss at the same time.
- Rethink Fats – If you want an anti-inflammatory diet that also helps you lose weight, then rethink the types of fats you are using. It has been proven that trans fats, processed foods that are high in fat and saturated fats increase inflammation levels while fats such as extra virgin olive oil reduce inflammation. This is all part of the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to be great for those seeking to lose weight and keep weight off.
- Treat Swaps – You don’t have to avoid all treats; dark chocolate and cocoa have been shown to reduce inflammation in comparison to their refined cousin, milk chocolate. A high-quality dark chocolate contains antioxidants that are a key component of the anti-inflammatory diet while also satisfying your craving for chocolate and helping you to lose weight!
- Love Lycopene – Try to include foods containing lycopene, a powerful plant-based antioxidant. Lycopene is typically found in foods that have a red or pink color; pink grapefruit, watermelon, papaya, and tomatoes. These are also typically foods that contain a lot of water, which is excellent for hydration and feeling full. A healthy lycopene-packed fruit salad makes a super dessert when paired with live yogurt and honey; all the flavor of a dessert but with so much nutritional value.
Foods to Avoid
The foods to avoid on an anti-inflammatory diet are those that you would try to avoid in any healthy lifestyle or weight loss diet. Junk foods such as fast food, convenience meals, high-fat snacks should be avoided. Refined or processed carbohydrates such as white pasta, white bread, white rice, biscuits, and baked goods should be swapped for unprocessed or unrefined versions such as brown rice, wholemeal bread, whole grain pasta, etc. Foods fried in oil that has been reheated should also be avoided, as should processed meats such as sausage, salami, bacon, jerky and smoked meats. Choose good quality unsaturated fats like olive oil over trans fats like margarine and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. By cutting out these inflammatory foods and eating a more anti-inflammatory diet, you can boost your health, reduce the effects of inflammation, lose weight and potentially avoid chronic health problems and disease.