While inflammation is the body's healthy response to fight off foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses, many people today are walking around with an unhealthy dose of chronic, low-level inflammation. If you are overweight, eat poorly, rarely exercise, smoke or live a stressful life, you are fueling the flames of inflammation.
Studies have shown that chronic inflammation is harmful to the body and is believed to be one of the leading causes of premature aging and illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and Alzheimer's disease. It's even linked to poor mental health, causing depression and mood disorders.
To reduce your body's inflammation level, make sure you get enough exercise, reduce or eliminate sugar intake and minimize stress. Additionally, eat a diet rich in anti-inflammation foods such as healthy fats (think omega-3 fatty acids), antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, and pungent foods and spices.
To help put your body on a path to better health, add these excellent inflammation-fighting foods and spices to your diet:
Blueberries are loaded with a polyphenol antioxidant that bolsters the immune system and protects against free radicals, which trigger inflammation. Polyphenols can also be found in blackberries, raspberries and cranberries.
Garlic is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. It contains sulfur compounds that stimulates your body's immunity to fight off disease.
Fresh Ginger Root acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting COX-2 enzymes.
Onions contain quercetin, a potent antioxidant that helps your body fight inflammation. It can also be found in apples, broccoli, red wine, red grapes and tea.
Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain, which decreases inflammation and helps boost the immune system. Pineapple is also a great source of vitamin C.
Spinach is a great source of inflammation-squashing carotenoids and immunity-enhancing vitamin E.
Sweet Potatoes are also an excellent source of carotenoids, which boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. Carotenoids can also be found in deep orange, red, yellow and green fruits and vegetables.
Turmeric contains curcumin, a substance that actively reduces inflammation. It works like ginger as a COX-2 inhibitor.
Wild-Caught Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Herring, mackerel and sardines are also good sources of omega-3s.
Walnuts is also an excellent source of omega-3s as well as vitamin E.