Changes You Can Make to Lower Inflammation
Most of the changes you can make to your diet to reduce inflammation can also improve your overall health.
Research shows that diets higher in the following foods are linked to lower amounts of inflammation:4
- Curcumin (active ingredient in turmeric)
- Gingerol (active ingredient in ginger)
- Catechin (Flavanol found in various fruits)
You’re probably not going to be surprised to hear that the best anti-inflammatory foods are fruits and vegetables.
It’s a good idea to include fresh produce with each meal. Berries with bright colored flesh like blueberries and raspberries are among the fruits with the highest anti-inflammatory effects.8
Dark, leafy green vegetables are also a good source of polyphenols, which act as antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties.9 In general, the darker the flesh of a vegetable the higher its polyphenol content. Spinach, bok choy, kale, and chard are among the best sources.
The two herbs ginger and turmeric also have proven anti-inflammatory benefits because of their active ingredients gingerol and curcumin.10,11
Here’s a list of some foods that are high in either sugar, refined carbohydrates, or omega 6 fatty acids that you should avoid if you want to decrease inflammation:
- Sugary juices and sodas
- Syrups and jams
- Candy and sugary desserts
- White bread
- White rice
- White potatoes
- Crackers, chips, rice cakes
- Sunflower oil
- Peanut oil
- Canola oil
- Deep fried foods
- Processed meats such as sausage and hot dogs
You can avoid most of these foods by minimizing the number of days per week that you eat fast food. Many pre-packaged foods are filled with sugar and vegetable oils because they’re cheap to produce. Buying primarily foods with one ingredient such as meat, fruit, and vegetables can help you minimize your consumption of these foods.
Minimizing stress may also decrease inflammation. It’s not always as easy to control stress as it is to control your diet. However, making some small changes to your lifestyle habits can go a long way. Scheduling time for activities that relax you can help decrease your stress hormone cortisol. Research also suggests that the act of laughing may also decrease your stress levels.10
Many people also find that meditation is helpful for reducing stress. The benefits of meditation come from your vagus nerve. This cranial nerve connects your brain to your heart and allows you to slow your heart rate by controlling your breathing rate.