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Doctors and scientists learn more every day about inflammation and how it negatively impacts our health.
Our immune systems use inflammation as a tool to fight foreign invaders in the body (pollen, chemicals, bacteria, viruses) and when this happens occasionally due to a true trigger or “threat” – it’s a good thing.
It’s a sign that your immune system is working properly.
However, when inflammation becomes chronic – as it is today for so many people – it poses a serious threat to our health.
According to the Harvard Women’s Health Watch, most of the major diseases that plague the western world today – cancer, heart disease, diabetes, auto-immune diseases, depression, Alzheimer’s – have been linked to chronic inflammation.
What contributes to the chronic inflammation that plagues so many people?
Stress, toxins and inflammatory foods are the primary culprits.
A diet high in refined carbohydrates (white breads and pastries), fried foods, refined sugar and sodas, meat, excess alcohol and trans fats is a main contributor.
Not surprising, since consumption of these foods is also directly linked to many of the diseases listed above as well as weight gain and obesity.
For those with digestive issues (i.e., Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity) wheat and gluten may also be culprits.
Other triggers include food allergies and a sedentary lifestyle.
Avoiding and even better, eliminating these foods from your diet, will reduce your risk for chronic inflammation.
Better yet, replace those foods with anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant rich, whole, plant-based foods.
By definition, foods that are high in anti-oxidants are also anti-inflammatory. Hippocrates said it best – “Let food be thy medicine.”
Here is my top five list of some of the most powerful anti-inflammatory foods to include in your diet each week:
Leafy greens (kale, swiss chard, spinach, etc.) contain tons of anti-oxidants which are anti-inflammatory by nature.
They also contain fiber, vitamin C and flavonoids which also contribute to overall good health.
Most leafy greens are good raw (in a salad), steamed, pureed into a pesto or stir-fried (with minimal to no oil).
Berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.) are some of the best superfoods around (particularly blueberries).
They contain massive amounts of anti-oxidants and phytonutrients as well as fiber.
Include them in your smoothies and in baked goods or on top of cereal or plant-based yogurt.
Turmeric is getting a lot of good attention lately, and for good reason.
It’s cancer-fighting properties are becoming world famous.
I put turmeric in everything I can get away with, but it’s particularly good in chili and soup (it has a mild but earthy/peppery flavor).
You can also make a turmeric-ginger tea with powdered versions of both spices with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice as a great morning detox drink.
Cherries (fresh or frozen) are a natural COX-2 inhibitor (ibuprofen, anyone?).
They have a very strong anti-inflammatory effect on the body without the nasty side-effects of drugs.
According to study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2006), tart cherries were ranked 14th among the top 50 foods for highest antioxidant content per serving. 
Use frozen cherries in smoothies and fresh cherries whenever you can get them!
Nuts contain the good, anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fats that our bodies like and need.
According to Dr. Greger of Nutritionfacts, who has done an exhaustive review of the scientific literature, the one specific food most tied to healthy longevity is – you guessed it – nuts.
Have a small handful of nuts for a snack on a regular basis or sprinkle on top of salads.
That’s it! – My top five favorite anti-inflammatory foods.
There are more, but start with these if you are new to eating whole, plant-based foods.
You really can’t go wrong.
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Thanks so much for reading and sharing!
Please let me know if any of these foods are new to you and how you have tried to include them in your diet!
I’ll make sure to share your lessons learned with others.