According to Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, “Many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects." In order to set ourselves up for a healthy future, we should continue to make wise food choices and turn toward anti-inflammatory foods for nutrition and healing. On the contrary, we must recognize that unhealthy foods can have inflammatory effects, with inflammation being the body's natural alert system that arises when it perceives something as potentially harmful. It can showcase itself in the form of all sorts of unpleasant bodily responses - from joint pain and migraines to insomnia, obesity and autoimmune disorders. It can also affect the brain and nervous system, causing mood disorders such as depression, anxiety and A.D.D.
Harvard Medical school defines the following inflammatory and anti-inflammatory foods.
Inflammatory foods include:
- refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
- fried foods like french fries
- soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
- red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
- margarine, shortening, and lard
Overly processed, chemically altered and nutritionally stripped foods are also known to interrupt our body's stability, leading to inflammation. Unfortunately, these ingredients are added to the majority of American packaged goods, leaving us not only stripped of nutrition, but addicted. (Yes, sugar and these chemicals are addicting, which is all the more reason to avoid these foods in the first place!)
Anti-inflammatory foods include:
- olive oil
- green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards
- nuts like almonds and walnuts
- fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
- fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges
Turmeric, green tea, flax seed and avocado are also considered anti-inflammatory. So are pineapple, broccoli and garlic.
More than focusing on the specific inflammatory and anti-inflammatory foods, though, focus on eating healthy, whole and unprocessed foods wherever possible. Your body will show your brain its gratitude. Trust me.