Anti-inflammatory foods may help reduce inflammation and the chronic diseases associated with it.
Anti-inflammatory foods include nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables, and protein like fatty fish.
Anti-inflammatory diets exclude foods like processed meats, high-sodium snacks, and whole-fat dairy.
Some of the most common and debilitating diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, Alzheimer's, and Crohn's disease, have been linked to chronic inflammation. Fortunately, research indicates that it's possible to keep inflammation at bay by maintaining a healthy diet.
Certain foods have been shown to trigger the inflammatory response, while others contain antioxidants and other substances that can keep it in check. The anti-inflammatory diet is based on this principle.
Below is a list of foods that can either promote or combat inflammation, as well as a 7-day anti-inflammatory meal plan.
Anti-inflammatory foods and inflammatory foods
The anti-inflammatory diet encourages eating whole foods (like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish) and avoiding processed foods that are high in refined sugars, flours, and trans fats.
A 2015 research report indicated that one of the most important considerations for reaping the benefits of this diet is reducing your intake of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids (found in many vegetable oils) while increasing your intake of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids (found in oily fish and seeds).
Here's a list of foods to prioritize, as well as some to limit:
The Power of Flaxseed!
1. Lowers Inflammation
Flaxseeds are used in many anti-inflammatory diets as the essential fatty acids like alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and lignans, which help lower inflammation—good for those who suffer from arthritis, joint inflammation, or skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis. Additionally, flaxseeds are a great source of fiber and potassium.
2. Hydrates the Skin
Because of the aforementioned fatty acids, it can help keep your skin supple and hydrated. In addition, flaxseeds increase the body's natural oil production, which helps keep skin soft. Applying flaxseed oil topically will allow the skin to still absorb the fatty acids the body needs. It balances out the skin's own oil and can also fight wrinkles by plumping the skin. You can purchase flaxseed oil and use it directly on your skin or even look for beauty products that incorporate it.
3. May Help Lower Your Cancer Risk
Because of the high amount of lignans flaxseeds contain, it may help lower the risk of cancer, specifically breast, prostate, and colon cancer, according to a study published by Frontiers in Nutrition. But what are lignans? They're plant compounds that have antioxidant and estrogen properties. And flaxseeds contain up to 800 times the number of lignans compared to other plant foods.
4. Rich in Protein
Many vegetarians use flaxseeds as a source of protein, as they are high in amino acids like arginine and glutamine. In fact, one tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains 1.28 grams of protein, so adding (or sneaking) it to meals can help beef up (pun intended) your protein intake for heart and immune health.
5. Rich in Fiber
Fiber is essential in helping you feel full longer and regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels in addition to feeding your gut bacteria. One gram of ground flaxseed contains 2 grams of fiber.
6. Helps With Digestion
Essentially, the insoluble fiber helps aid this by adding bulk to your digestive waste, therefore, acting as a natural laxative.
7. Can Help With Weight Loss
Because of the high fiber content, a diet with flaxseeds keeps you fuller longer. I find that because it is so easy to incorporate into meals, I don't feel "heavy" but rather just satiated with steady and stabilized blood sugar levels until my next meal.
8. Lowers "Bad" Cholesterol
Goodbye, LDL (aka, the "bad" cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins! ). Flaxseeds are beneficial in helping lower them, according to some studies conducted by the Mayo Clinic. The phytosterols found in flaxseeds have a molecular structure similar to cholesterol, and because of this, cholesterol isn't absorbed as much within the intestines.
Some Important Notes
However, as with many things, too much of something can have an inverse effect and be actually bad. Even though a food is healthy, you can consume too much of it. I like to rotate different foods from flax to hemp to chia and so on to get a nice diversity in the diet.
Flaxseeds are best when they are grounded so the body can access all the nutrition that is inside the hard hull. Given this grounded state, it makes it easy for anyone to start incorporating this little seed in their diets.
Cinnamon Protein Energy Bites:
1/3 cup oats (quick)
1/4 cup oat flour
1/4 cup vanilla protein powder
1/4 cup ground flax seed
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup almond butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp unsweetened almond milk (optional)
In a large mixing bowl, combine quick oats, oat flour, protein powder, ground flax, chia seeds, and cinnamon. Fold in the almond butter and maple syrup until a thick dough forms. If it is too thick to work with, add the almond milk.
Use a tablespoon to scoop out dough and roll into balls, approximately one-inch in diameter. Chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Anti-inflammatory meal plan
This meal plan is designed specifically to reduce the frequency of inflammation and improve overall gut health.
Kick off breakfast with a filling cup of chia pudding.
Breakfast: Cinnamon walnut chia pudding with sliced banana
Lunch: Rosemary lemon turkey sliders, sweet potato hash, and marinated green beans with sauerkraut
Dinner: Poached cod, mashed roasted fennel (or celery or onion) and butternut squash, and spiced collards (or spinach or kale)
Have a veggie-filled dinner packed with bok choy, broccoli, and pickled radish.
Breakfast: Chia pudding with almond milk and berries
Lunch: Cauliflower rice bowl with curried lentils, roasted broccolini (or broccoli), and apple cider vinaigrette
Dinner: Sesame orange tempeh bowl with bok choy (or spinach), broccoli, seared avocado, and pickled radish
Opt for a fresh, light lunch with this egg and avocado salad.
Breakfast: Banana and almond yogurt parfait with toasted almonds
Lunch: Egg and avocado salad with wilted spinach and lemon caper vinaigrette (or other vinaigrette at the store)
Dinner: Lemongrass garlic chicken bowl with roasted broccoli and carrots, pickled daikon (or turnips or radishes), and scallion vinaigrette (or other vinaigrette you prefer)
Quinoa sliders are packed with protein, fiber, and other important nutrients.
Breakfast: Pineapple, green banana, and maca (or chia seeds or coconut) smoothie
Lunch: Black bean taco bowl, marinated red cabbage slaw (or pico de gallo), avocado, and lime
Dinner: Quinoa sliders with butternut squash fries and red kale and sauerkraut slaw
Try some tabouli for dinner on Day 5.
Breakfast: Banana-based smoothie bowl with almond milk, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, raw cacao (or unsweetened cocoa powder), and warm blackberries
Lunch: Spring pea bowl with bok choy (or spinach), broccolini (or broccoli), toasted nori, and miso tahini dressing (or other preferable dressing)
Dinner: Cauliflower and quinoa tabouli with roasted beets and pickled red onion vinaigrette
An asparagus and basil frittata can help you stay full until lunch.
Breakfast: Asparagus and basil frittata with roasted parsnips, swiss chard, and lemon chili oil
Lunch: Sesame garlic lentils with brown jasmine rice biryani, bok choy (or spinach), and kimchi
Dinner: Turley (or other ground meat) meatballs with roasted squash, Brussels sprouts, and cumin apple cider vinaigrette
Breakfast: Mango lime smoothie with toasted coconut
Lunch: Pan-seared tofu with parsnip puree and pickled green bean and fennel (or celery or onion) salad
Dinner: Five-spice tempeh with daikon slaw, wilted greens, and sesame lime dressing
What you eat plays a significant role in preventing and managing inflammation and the many diseases associated with it.
As a general guide, the anti-inflammatory diet emphasizes eating more antioxidant-rich plant-based foods (such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains) while minimizing your consumption of foods high in added sugars, saturated fat, or trans fats.