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Chronic inflammation has been deemed as a “Silent Killer” by Time Magazine, and is now evident to be linked with chronic diseases such as Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer, Arthritis, Diabetes, Obesity, and Alzheimer’s Disease. Fortunately, through a healthy diet rich in essential nutrients, we can begin to heal our bodies and prevent further inflammation. Ongoing research examines the impact of certain nutrients on the cellular and biomolecular markers of anti-inflammatory responses. The Inflammation Research Foundation suggests that by having knowledge of the impacts of nutrition on various molecular targets within our bodies, we can begin to create diets rich in nutrients with anti-inflammatory properties.

Many studies evaluate specific nutrients associated with reducing inflammation, specifically Polyphenols—flavanones, anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, polymeric flavonoids, flavonols, and flavones. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that Polyphenols are abundant micronutrients in our diet, and ongoing studies provide evidence for their role in the prevention of degenerative diseases. The Natural Medicine Journal supports this statement, suggesting similar studies have become a “foundation to further examine the effects of various polyphenols on the gut microbiota and their overall relationship to human health and the prevention and management of disease”.

With this, I have evaluated the following foods, herbs, and spices associated with high levels of Polyphenols and other essential nutrients you will want to incorporate into your diet to reduce the offset of chronic Inflammation.

1. Citrus Fruits
Lemons, limes, oranges all contain Flavonoids and Flavanones that help reduce inflammation. One study looked at 1600 women, and discovered that those who ate the most citrus had lower levels of interleukin-8, an inflammatory chemical.

2. Berries (Blackberries, Cranberries, Raspberries, Blueberries)
A study published in the journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that berries contain a type of Polyphenols called Anthocyanin. According to Arthritis.Org, berries protect your body against inflammation and free radicals, molecules that can damage cells and organs.

3. Tart Cherries
Like berries, cherries contain the Polyphenol, Anthocyanin. According to LiveStrong.Com, “Tart cherries offer pain relief from gout and arthritis, reduce exercise-induced joint and muscle pain, lower cholesterol, and improve inflammatory markers”. They are also said to have the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food.

4. Olive Oil
Olive oil contains powerful antioxidants that have high anti-inflammatory effects. Specifially, Olive oil contains an antioxidant known as Oleocanthal, which has been shown to work similarly to ibuprofen.

5. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health, Washington D.C., state that Omega-3 Fatty Acids have found to decrease interleukin 1, an inflammatory agent in the body, revealing significant benefits. Numerous clinical trials assessing the benefits of dietary supplementation with fish oils have been done in several inflammatory and autoimmune diseases in humans and have decreased disease activity and lowered use of anti-inflammatory drugs.
6. Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens have high concentrations of Vitamins that are essential to fighting disease. These greens including spinach, broccoli, and kale, are abundant in Vitamin E, which inhibits pro-inflammatory enzymes. Likewise, these greens have high levels of Flavonoids and Catenoids, which are anti-inflammatory properties.

7. Garlic
Garlic contains sulfur-containing compounds, which have been studied and proven to suppress inflammatory enzymes in the body.

8. Onions
Onions are one of the richest sources of Flavanoids and contains a compound called Quercetin, shown to inhibit or stop inflammation causers known as leukotrines, histamines, and prostaglandins. Quercetin also suppresses inflammatory enzymes in the body, which helps prevent inflammation.

9. Turmeric
Turmeric contains a compound called Curcurim, which has been shown to inhibit the body’s production of pro-inflammatory signaling compounds called Eicosanoids. Incorporating Tumeric into your diet slows Eicosanois production, which levels out the body, decreasing chronic inflammation.

10. Ginger
Ginger has inhibitory effects on prostaglandin biosynthesis, which plays a role such as blood pressure and modulation of inflammation. Studies confirm Ginger as an herbal medicinal product that shares pharmacological properties with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

While incorporating these foods, herbs, and spices are certainly beneficial to preventing and decreasing chronic inflammation, it is also important to evaluate your current diet and steer clear from inflammatory causing foods. While every person is different and bodies react differently to certain foods, it is best to have a diet consisting mainly of clean, unprocessed foods, with lots of fruits and veggies, organic if possible. Limit or completely remove trans fats, high processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and soy & dairy if you notice your body doesn’t react well to them.
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