Inflammation is a hot topic these days. It seems like every disease is either attributed to chronic inflammation, or is a result of inflammation.

But what exactly is inflammation? And why is it a bad thing? Why do we care?

Inflammation in and of itself is not a bad thing. It’s the body’s way of responding to disease, illness, or injury, and it’s a critical part of healing.

But inflammation becomes a problem when it’s chronic. This could be due to an autoimmune disease, illness, excessive exercise, on-going stress, and a poor diet.

Chronic inflammation has been linked to heart disease, joint pain and stiffness, and premature muscular aging. Digestive issues, oral health problems, and poor sleep can also be attributed to chronic inflammation.

A popular way of dealing with this is medication, especially non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as Aspirin and Ibuprofen. And while these drugs have their place, it’s my own humble opinion that we rely on these things far too much.

What if there was a natural way we could ease inflammation within our bodies, without doing more harm than good?

5 Foods to Fight Inflammation

Fortunately, there are many foods that come from nature that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties! You may have heard of the anti-inflammatory diet; this is not actually one specific diet, but it includes many different ways of eating based on principles that are believed to reduce inflammation.

Today I’m not advocating a specific diet (as I rarely do 😉 ). Rather, I’m pulling a few incredibly nutrient-dense foods from popular anti-inflammatory diets to share with you.  I wrote a post a couple of years ago about five foods to eat during race week based on similar principles; looks like this information has stood the test of time, because a few of them made it back on this list!

I always approach this information with my critical thinking cap on, and I encourage you to do the same. These days, it’s incredibly easy for someone to publish a blog post saying Ingredient X can cure cancer, and Ingredient Y will increase the longevity of your life.

But I’ve done the research and am confident in sharing this knowledge with you. And, at the very least, all of these foods are super nutritious – why wouldn’t you want to include them in your weekly meals?

Leafy Green Vegetables

Obviously our leafy green veggies deserve an honourable mention. These nutritional powerhouses pack in tons of antioxidants and flavanoids that can contribute to cellular health and immune function. They’re rich in vitamins and minerals that have not only been linked to lowered inflammation, but also to greater overall health.

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Plus, they’re SUPER versatile and there are so many wonderful options to choose from. You can steam these veggies, saute them in a little bit of coconut oil, or pack them into a nutrient-dense smoothie or juice. And the best part? If you hate kale, you can try something else like chard or beet greens instead 😉

foods to fight inflammationPineapple

This super-hip fruit contains the enzyme bromelain, which can help reduce swelling and inflammation in the body. It also aids in the breakdown of protein, so if you’ve been experiencing digestive issues, adding a little pineapple to your smoothie may give you the help you need.

You’ve likely associated oranges with a healthy immune system because of their high vitamin C content, right? One cup of oranges contains approximately 95mg of vitamin C. Our friend the pineapple comes close behind with 79mg! Not bad pineapple, not bad.

As much as I love pineapple on my pizza, it’s best to consume pineapple raw if you’re looking for the health-boosting benefits of bromelain.

Bone Broth

Bone broth is super trendy these days, and I admit – my eyes got really tired from rolling when everyone started talking about bone broth. Isn’t it just stock???

And, according to this article, it basically is. Apparently, broth was traditionally thinner and made with more meat whereas stock was thicker since it was made with a higher concentration of bones. But as it became a cool thing to consume, stock was referred to as broth and vice versa. #confusing

So I guess what I’m actually referring to is stock made from simmering bones over low heat for a long period of time. But it’s called broth. Okay, let’s just look at why it’s good for us.

Broth is rich in the anti-inflammatory amino acids glycine and proline. It also contains glucosamine, which has been shown to help ease joint pain and stiffness.

Plus, when you aren’t feeling well, what’s more comforting than a bowl of your mom’s homemade broth?

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are one of my favourite seeds! These little guys are rich in alpha linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid that contains anti-inflammatory properties. They also contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, a variety of vitamins and minerals, plus a hefty dose of fiber. Any time I’m drinking chia fresca I like to imagine that gelatinous drink cleaning out my digestive system 😉

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foods to fight inflammationGinger

This wouldn’t be a post about anti-inflammatory foods if ginger wasn’t included!

Ginger can be enjoyed fresh, juiced, dried, or as an extract. Gingerol is the main compound we can attribute its anti-inflammatory properties to.

There’s a few different ways I like to enjoy ginger. I add it when I’m cooking wherever suitable, like in stir fries, curries, and soups. I add it raw to juices and smoothies, and my favourite way as of late is to make ginger tea.

Simply peel and slice 2-3 inches of ginger and boil them in a large pot of filtered water. You can drink that tea and fight inflammation all day long!

Inflammation-Fighting Lifestyle Factors

I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t make a quick note about lifestyle factors.

Two of the most common contributors to inflammation that I see within my clients is stress and too much exercise with too little recovery.

Chronic stress leads to a host of negative health effects; inflammation is really just the tip of the ice berg. Practicing stress management, whether it’s through breathing exercises, meditation, or simply journalling or talking it out will go a long way.

If you’re training hard for an event, or you’re just super passionate about SWEATING ALL THE TIME, adding these foods into your diet will help. But you’ll still need to make an effort to get some solid recovery in.

Do the foam rolling, the stretching, the massages, and the other body care practices. Get adequate sleep each night (ie more than 6 hours), and incorporate rest days and active recovery days. A week of lighter training here and there doesn’t hurt either 😉

It’s important to note that improving your health from the inside out is a holistic process. It doesn’t just come from eating healthy foods. It doesn’t just come from managing stress, resting, or taking supplements or medication.

It’s about looking at all different systems within the body and paying each the attention it deserves.

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What are some of your favourite anti-inflammatory foods? How do you like to incorporate them into your diet?

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