Top anti-inflammatory foods that support healthy immune balance

Top anti-inflammatory foods that support healthy immune balance

Eating a balanced diet with plenty of whole plant foods, healthy proteins and fat sources, and high in antioxidants is key to optimal health. Dietitians and nutritional consultants support consuming an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant diet aimed at decreasing inflammation and oxidative stress and promoting a healthy immune balance.

Anti-inflammatory foods reduce inflammatory proteins in the body, while antioxidants help destroy the oxidative compounds, mainly “free radicals,” that damage healthy cells.

Chronic inflammation is recognized as a risk factor for numerous degenerative diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis.

Healthy inflammatory response versus chronic inflammation

Inflammation is a vital function of our immune system. In a healthy person, the inflammatory response – swelling, heat, fever or redness – will alert the body to infection and trigger our immune system. When acute inflammation occurs, the body’s white blood cells (leukocytes) and substances they produce, cytokines, are recruited to repair tissue damage such as a cut or bug bite and fend off viruses and bacteria.

In some diseases, the immune system triggers an inflammatory response when no foreign cells are present, causing the body to attack itself, leading to tissue and organ damage.

An overactive immune system triggered by overproduction of cytokines is an area of research into the sickest of patients infected with coronavirus. Scientists are researching an arthritis drug as a potential treatment for cytokine storm syndrome. This autoimmune disorder is what is believed to trigger persistent high fever, severe respiratory distress and lung damage found in severely ill COVID-19 patients.

Research has discovered a close association between some autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Lupus, asthma and chronic inflammatory disease. Inflammation in the nervous system occurs in early Parkinson’s disease and accelerates the degeneration of cells that produce dopamine, which is key to movement.

Symptoms of inflammation can include lower back pain, joint pain and tiredness. It also contributes to arteriosclerosis, a build up of fatty plaque inside the arteries, the main cause of heart attack and stroke.

Best Diets for Anti-Aging

The DASH diet and Mediterranean diet are recognized among the best diets for healthy eating and anti-aging. (Check out this Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure with DASH from the National Institutes of Health.) Both are rich in whole plant foods, such as fruits, dark leafy vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds and rich in healthful fat sources like extra-virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts, and oily fish like tuna and salmon. They also include foods such as tea, dark chocolate, spices and herbs.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Maintain Immune Balance

top anti-inflammatory
Top Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Research shows that eating certain foods can help ease symptoms of inflammation and decrease flare-ups. As a rule, fresh is better than processed or prepared foods. Prepared foods often have added gluten, preservatives, flavorings or chemicals. When you cook your own meals you can control oils, fats and salt. Aim to do more food prep and cooking at home, starting with whole foods including vegetables, beans and whole grains.

Rich Proteins

Lean meats such as pork, poultry, lean beef and fish, eggs, cheese, and protein-rich foods like cottage cheese, yogurt, tofu, almonds, broccoli, and beans.

Fruits and Vegetables

A colorful plate is a good rule to consider when preparing a meal, generally the darker the better. Think vegetables like kale, spinach, zucchini, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers and green beans and fruits like blueberries, raspberries and oranges

 Herbs & Spices

Herbs and spices such as turmeric, cayenne, cinnamon and ginger are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric has been used for thousands of years in mustards and curries as well as a treatment in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine traditions. Available as a supplement, turmeric provides support for good joint health, chronic inflammation and to reduce the effects of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Cinnamon is known for its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Research on the health benefits of cinnamon has shown potential for treating diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Shop Good Medicine ChoiceTM Network for our doctor-approved antioxidant and anti-inflammatory supplement products.

Water, Tea, Coffee

Staying hydrated is an important part of digestion. Your body requires about two quarts or two liters of water a day. Drink plenty of fluids, such as water, broth, tea and even red wine. Consume foods with high water content, such as watermelon, oranges, cantaloupe, cucumber, celery, tomatoes, cabbage and spinach.

Remember, the focus should be to identify and eliminate inflammatory foods and nourish with real foods that deliver vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

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