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Top 5 Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Healing

Top 5 Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Healing

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOODS

When I sprained my back last month, my first proactive step towards recovery was to clean up my diet.  In fact, if you have been battling an injury, an illness or chronic inflammation, instead of first reaching for that Aleve or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs), one of the best things you can do for yourself is to clean up your diet.  The reason for this is that while medications like NSAIDs can work to reduce inflammation, they also have the potential to bring with them a host of adverse side effects - from weakening the immune system to ulcers (read more here).

The good news is this: following a strict Paleo diet reduces inflammation because it is void of inflammatory foods.  What this means is that your body does not have to work overtime fighting the ill-effects of poor food choices, it can focus all of its efforts on healing any injury or illness that you may have.  Even better is the fact that nature has provided us with some amazing natural anti-inflammatories, which have no negative side effects, but rather boast extra vitamins and minerals to enhance immune health in addition to their anti-inflammatory properties.  That's winning right there.

With some guidance from the experts, here are my top 5 anti-inflammatory foods that you should work into your diet.

1. Fish oil - I think this is one of the top contenders and most widely know for its inflammation fighting power.  According to the Livestrong foundation, fish oil "contains omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that have anti-inflammatory properties. These long-chain omega-3 fatty acids can relieve inflammation in autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular disease and inflammatory conditions affecting the intestines and connective tissue" Read more at Livestrong.com.   As an alternative to the supplement, eat the actual fish! Salmon is also an excellent source of EPA and DHA.

2.  Turmeric - you may recognize this spice as one of the main components of curry and what gives the delicious Indian dish its bright yellow color.  What you may not know however, is that turmeric it one of nature's most potent (yet delicious) anti-inflammatories.  Dr. Weil contends "turmeric contains more than two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds, including six different COX-2-inhibitors (the COX-2 enzyme promotes pain, swelling and inflammation; inhibitors selectively block that enzyme).   Read more Curry, anyone?

3. Ginger- a cousin of turmeric, the ginger root also boasts powerful anti-inflammatory properties.  According to Fitday.com, "The root, or rhizome, of the ginger plant (zingiber officinale) contains powerful compounds called gingerols that help reduce the tissue inflammation that causes stiff, aching muscles and joints. Recent studies indicate that using ginger as a daily supplement or topical analgesic could relax muscles and reduce pain caused by exercise or strenuous activity". Read the whole article

4. Green Tea - It has long been touted that the flavonoids and polyphenols in green tea are potent natural anti-inflammatory compounds.  But a recent study done for the USDA actually demonstrated that "a low dose of green tea (1 g/kg diet) significantly increased the mRNA levels of the anti-inflammatory protein, tristetraprolin, and decreased those of the pro-inflammatory proteins in both liver and muscle."  Read more Plus, green tea is a great alternative to coffee, for those of you who are looking to cut back :)

5. Cinnamon - we all know cinnamon helps make everything taste delicious, but who knew it had health benefits too?  According the OutsideOnline, a recent study found that cinnamon extract "helped suppress inflammation of the colon in mice, leading researchers to say that cinnamon extract may have significant anti-inflammatory effects in humans."  read more here

Hopefully, this list gets you thinking outside of the box (or the medicine cabinet, as the case may be) for your anti-inflammatory needs.  Nature has provided us with some awesome resources to cope with inflammation - use them!

So, what's on the menu for dinner?

(Image courtesy of Taylor Kiser)

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