Inflammation is a natural defense mechanism of the body to fight against external aggressions such as viral and bacterial infections or injuries. Inflammation is an essential process, for example if you twist your ankle while playing sports, inflammatory signs like pain and stiffness are the body’s way of communicating to keep you rested until the injury be cured. During inflammation, the cells of the immune system move to attack (eg injury) and produce large quantities of molecules called cytokines that will attack the affected area.
The problem is that in some people the inflammation continues for no apparent reason (eg injury, viral disease), sometimes becoming chronic in the form of arthritis or psoriasis, for example, without really knowing why. In this case, a specific diet based on fruits and vegetables can act effectively as an anti-inflammatory. This diet can also allow faster healing of wounds or reduction of pain during acute inflammation as well as preventing the risk of mortality.
Indeed, a recently published study showed that following a diet of anti-inflammatory foods was associated with a decreased risk of death from all causes, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. In this study of 68,273 Swedes aged 45 to 83 who were followed for 16 years, participants who closely followed an anti-inflammatory diet had an 18% lower risk of all-cause mortality, a 20% lower cardiovascular mortality risk and 13% lower cancer mortality risk, compared to those who followed the diet to a lesser degree.
Smokers who followed the diet experienced even greater benefits compared to smokers who did not follow the diet. Other recent studies have even shown that depression can sometimes be caused by chronic inflammation.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of the best fruits and vegetables with anti-inflammatory properties to incorporate into your diet.
Certain plants rich in antioxidants (eg flavonoids) can also help fight against chronic inflammation. The Mediterranean diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, is an anti-inflammatory diet par excellence. Conversely, a diet based on processed foods often containing a lot of sugar and fat such as meat, crisps or sugary drinks promote inflammation (pro-inflammatory). Flavonoids could prevent type 2 diabetes
Celery is a natural remedy that improves inflammatory processes. In addition to its slimming virtues, it contains polyacetylene promoting the elimination of toxins. This substance also helps to reduce pain due to conditions such as rheumatic arthritis or gout. Thanks to the different types of antioxidants, such as apigenin and lutein, which are found in its seeds and leaves, celery could reduce the proliferation of certain cancer cells, especially those of the liver.
Chinese cabbage is rich in antioxidant vitamins and minerals. This green vegetable would contain more than 60 phenolic substances with antioxidant properties, including hydroxycinnamic acids, which effectively fight against free radicals. The interest of Chinese cabbage is that it can be eaten and cooked in multiple ways without losing its properties.
Spinach is packed with anti-inflammatory flavonoids. In addition, they facilitate digestion and help to better absorb food. It should be known that during an inflammation, the acidity level in the blood increases, it is thus advisable to consume foods rich in alkaline products to find a balanced pH. Spinach is one of the most alkaline vegetables. A spinach extract to reduce the desire to eat and lose weight.
Beets are another vegetable with anti-inflammatory properties. It is rich in betanin, an antioxidant which, in addition to giving it its bright red color, is an excellent anti-inflammatory. This vegetable is also rich in magnesium, which helps to limit the risk of developing inflammatory diseases caused by magnesium deficiency. When magnesium is low in the body, calcium accumulates without being absorbed, causing long-term kidney stones. Consuming beets regularly increases the level of magnesium in the blood and facilitates the assimilation of calcium by the body.
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Broccoli is an excellent source of antioxidants, including flavonoids and carotenoids. These substances reduce oxidative stress and help fight chronic inflammation such as joint pain caused by osteoarthritis. Broccoli is not the only cabbage that helps fight inflammation, other species are also effective such as classic cabbage, kale (kale) or Chinese cabbage.
Grapes, grape juice and wine are full of a powerful antioxidant, resveratrol, belonging to polyphenols. This antioxidant substance has a protective effect against cardiovascular diseases and also exhibits anti-inflammatory activity. Some research has shown a positive effect of resveratrol, but others have been more critical.
Kaluza: Influence of anti-inflammatory diet and smoking on mortality and survival in men and women: two prospective cohort studies. J Intern Med. doi: 10.1111/joim.12823. Epub 2018 Sep 12.