When your body heats up, or gets red or swollen, that’s inflammation at work. Sometimes you can’t even see inflammation happening deep inside your body until you start to feel yourself take a downward turn. But don’t worry, there’s something you can do to help.
When we eat, the foods we choose to put in our bodies can fight against inflammation or trigger an inflammatory response. The foundation of an anti-inflammatory diet includes primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes. When eating animal protein sources, make sure to choose wild seafood, organic pasture-raised eggs, and grass-fed land animals.
So think of your next meal as an opportunity to load your body with foods that will make you strong and energized, and also improve your long-term health! Here are 10 foods to consider picking up during your next grocery trip:
Kale is loaded with anti-inflammatory properties and contains a variety of phytonutrients and antioxidants that help protect our bodies against cellular damage. This nutrient-dense, detoxifying food is a great source of:
- various amino acids
- vitamins A, C, and K
This delicious fruit packs a big punch! Pineapple is loaded with vitamin C and contains an enzyme called bromelain which helps stimulate protein digestion, reduces inflammation of the gut, and boosts immune function.
Add pineapple to your fruit plate, smoothies, or juice to help fight inflammation, enhance digestion, and keep your immune system strong.
3. Wild salmon
This cold-water fish is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which help to fight inflammation, lower risk for chronic diseases, and improve mental health. Salmon is also a great source of protein and is packed with tons of other vitamins and minerals including vitamins B-12, B-3, D, potassium, and selenium.
Cook up salmon any way you like — pan-seared, grilled, or broiled. I like it baked with dill, lemon, and other herbs.
Antimicrobial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory, mushrooms contain a variety of compounds that help to improve immunity and lower inflammation throughout the body. They consist of long-chain polysaccharides called beta-glucan that promotes a strong immune system, and also houses a powerful antioxidant called ergothioneine that helps fight inflammation.
Mushrooms are a great source of protein, fiber, and various B vitamins. There’s so many different types of mushrooms to try, you’re bound to find one that fits your taste buds — some of my favorites are shiitake, morel, chanterelle, and porcini.
Packed with vitamins C and K, folate, and fiber, broccoli is an anti-inflammatory powerhouse. It’s especially rich in antioxidants like the flavonoids kaempferol and quercetin, as well as a variety of carotenoids.
Dulse is a type of seaweed that contains a unique group of polysaccharides called fucoidans, which work to reduce inflammation within the body. This unique sea vegetable is packed with a variety of benefits including:
- plant-based protein
You can eat dulse fresh or dried. Try adding it to green leafy salads, chopped up with avocado, or blended into dressings.
Low in sugar and high in fiber, these guys are packed with vitamins A, C, and E, and contain a variety of anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants. The major antioxidant, anthocyanin, is what gives this berry it’s gorgeous deep blue color.
Add organic blueberries to your morning fruit plate or throw them into this green protein smoothie.
Sauerkraut, or fermented cabbage, is loaded with vitamins C and K, iron, and fiber, and naturally contains healthy gut bacteria called probiotics. By eating foods like sauerkraut, we enhance the health of our digestive system by optimizing our gut flora and balancing our gut microbiome.
We can get probiotics through other fermented foods as well, such as kimchi, miso, and pickles. Try adding sauerkraut to your green salads or using it as a topping on burgers!
9. Bone broth
Bone broth is a complete serving of the good stuff — minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. A bowl of this may help strengthen the lining of your gut due to the high content of healing compounds including collagen, gelatin, and amino acids like glutamine, arginine, and proline.
Add bone broth into your routine as a warm snack or use it as a base to soups. It’ll help:
- reduce intestinal inflammation
- strengthen your digestive system
- support immune function
- boost detoxification
Check out my favorite way to eat bone broth in this immunity bone broth veggie soup!
10. Spices and herbs like turmeric, ginger, garlic
This beautiful yellow-orange spice is often found in curry powders. Thanks to the active compound curcumin, it has strong anti-inflammatory properties and has been used for thousands of years as a medicinal herb. Try adding ground turmeric to seasoning on fish and vegetables or use raw turmeric root chopped up in soups, sauces, or as an addition to your next green juice!
However you take it, remember to add a dash of black pepper to boost absorption.
Most of ginger’s anti-inflammatory and medicinal qualities come from its main bioactive compound, gingerol. Ginger is not only a major immune booster and inflammation fighter, but this plant adds a kick of flavor to smoothies and juices, soups, sauces, and stir-frys. Ginger root can also be used in tea to aid digestion.
Garlic contains sulfur compounds that stimulate our immune system to fight inflammation and illness. It’s also antibacterial and antifungal!
This tasty herb is easy to add to any meal and boosts delicious flavor in a variety of dishes. One of my favorite homemade dressings, this creamy tahini dressing, uses garlic as a main ingredient.
Feeling a little under the weather?
Next time you’re not feeling like your energetic self or if you’re just ready to take your health to the next level, try incorporating some of these delicious anti-inflammatory foods into your daily routine.
Whether it’s experimenting with dulse in your dressings, topping salads with sauerkraut, or adding kale and broccoli to your bone broth soup, these anti-inflammatory foods can benefit your long-term health. You’ll start to see and feel their powerful effects by eating them today!
Nathalie is a registered dietitian and functional medicine nutritionist with a BA in Psychology from Cornell University and a MS in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She’s the founder of Nutrition by Nathalie LLC, a private nutrition practice in New York City focusing on health and wellness using an integrative approach, and All Good Eats, a social media health and wellness brand focusing on healthy, practical recipes and leading a clean, holistic lifestyle. When she isn’t working with her clients or on media projects, you can find her working out at Tracy Anderson Method, experimenting with new recipes in the All Good Eats kitchen, or traveling with her husband and mini-Aussie, Brady.