9 Foods that Reduce Inflammation

Try these nine foods to ease chronic inflammation and reduce your risk of everything from cardiovascular disease to cancer.


| July/August 2014



Amaranth in a Bowl

Amaranth, a seed that acts like a grain, is easy to digest and can replace rice and other starches in meals.


Photo by Veer

When TV host and nutritionist Julie Daniluk developed ulcerative colitis—inflammation of the large intestine—several years ago, it ravaged her body. She not only developed severe digestive problems, she also had debilitating muscle and joint pain. But it wasn’t medication alone that ended up curing her disease; it was a healthy, nutrient-rich diet. “After one and a half years, I’m completely in remission,” Daniluk says. “If I can come back from this disease and be 100 percent healthy, imagine what you can do if you don’t have a serious health problem like this. We can do so much to shift the course of our health by just eating an anti-inflammatory diet.

But what’s all the fuss about inflammation, a so-called health bad guy that seems to gain more notoriety with every passing year? Despite its bad reputation, not all inflammation is bad; in fact, inflammation is the core of our body’s healing—and immune—response. When something harmful or irritating affects a part of our body, an inflammatory cascade of events is set in motion: Blood flow increases to that area, and along with it healing proteins and infection-fighting white blood cells. Without inflammation, wounds and infections would never heal.

As with stress, though, some inflammation is healthy, but chronic inflammation—which some experts describe as an immune system response that’s out of control—is not. “Inflammation is a form of cellular and chemical warfare in the body,” says David L. Katz, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Derby, Connecticut, and author of Disease-Proof, available on page 86. “But as with all warfare, there is potential for collateral damage. Chronic inflammation stresses and injures cells, causing them to malfunction and age.” This malfunctioning, in turn, can trigger disease. Study after study suggests that everything from cardiovascular disease and cancer to joint issues and even skin problems like psoriasis can be the result of unchecked inflammation in the body.

Tips to Reduce Inflammation

4 Daily Tweaks to Reduce Inflammation
• Kale Recipe with Honeyed Macadamia Nuts 

How to Reduce Inflammation

Research finds that the more sugar, red meat, processed meat, fried foods and dairy people eat, the higher their indicators of inflammation. In one study, researchers at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City found that fried and processed foods can increase inflammation, while cutting back on these foods can “restore the body’s natural defenses.” In a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Greek researchers found that those who eat a plant-based, healthy-fat Mediterranean diet (heavy on produce but light on meat, white flour and white sugar) have lower inflammation levels. The reason: The right nutrients seem to guard against inflammation, and some even help to calm inflammation already present. Try this list of some of the best inflammation-fighting foods around.  





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