Eat your way to a healthier gut with these anti-inflammatory foods
Bloating. That pesky thing that most women endure during their menstrual cycles. This condition makes your belly feel full and tight, and it can be rather unflattering if you enjoy taking Instagram-worthy photos of yourself. Bloating is not a skinny or fat thing. It’s all about what you eat, when you eat, and how you eat. Or, in some cases, it’s a sign of a deeper medical issue - inflammation. Yes, if you are constantly gassy or experiencing digestive issues, you may have inflammation in the gut.
What is inflammation?
WebMD describes inflammation as a process by which your body’s white blood cells and the things they make protect you from infection from outside invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. Ordinarily, inflammation is a good thing. Yet, too much of a good thing can be bad, and inflammation is no exception. With certain diseases such as arthritis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), your body triggers inflammation where there are no invaders to fight off. WebMD explains that your immune system acts as if regular tissues are infected or somehow unusual, causing damage. These kinds of diseases are also known as autoimmune diseases.
As with most diseases, prevention is better than cure. With autoimmune diseases, that notion is a lot more nuanced. Currently, there are no known cures for autoimmune diseases. People who struggle with them either medicate or learn to manage the symptoms. Like many diseases, symptoms are best managed and decreased with lifestyle changes - diet and exercise. If you already lead an active lifestyle and want to take things up a notch, keep reading to learn how you can incorporate anti-inflammatory foods into your diet.
Which foods cause inflammation?
We know what you’re thinking - which foods cause inflammation? In our last post, we shared fad diets you need to try before summer starts. By the way, we hear this summer will feel like summer ‘16 all over again. Let's hope everyone's right about that. One of the diets we shared was the paleo diet. This diet is considered an anti-inflammatory diet. It removes sugar, most dairy, legumes, refined oils, and other processed foods from your diet. Because it is anti-inflammatory, you may glean that inflammatory foods are:
Carbohydrates (refined) - bread, grains, pastries
Dairy - butter, margarine, lard, etc.
Sugary - sodas, sweetened beverages, etc.
The paleo diet limits foods that became common when farming merged about 10,000 years ago. In other words, the Subway diet won’t work.
Five foods to combat inflammation
Oh, avocado, nature’s gift that keeps on giving! It turns out that this superfood not only promotes healthy skin, but it is an anti-inflammatory. This fruit is packed with nutrients including potassium, magnesium, monounsaturated healthy fats, and fiber. One of the ways to reduce inflammation is by increasing your fiber intake. Its fiber content and all-around goodness are why avocado will be the first thing on our anti-inflammatory ingredients list. The next time you go to brunch, order a side of avocado shamelessly, even if it costs $20 due to inflation. For your health, it’s worth it. If you are fighting inflation by staying indoors, try this delicious avocado salad recipe by Cooking Classy.
8-10 grape tomatoes (as many as you like)
½ a red onion (or whole if you are serving two or more people)
2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
½ a teaspoon of honey
1-2 cloves of fresh garlic
½ a cup of fresh cilantro and parsley
A pinch of oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare your salad dressing by mincing the garlic cloves and whisking it with cilantro, parsley, lemon, red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, honey, oregano, salt, and pepper.
Peel the cucumber, then cut it into thin slices.
Slice the onion into thin pieces.
Peel the avocados then cut them into chunks.
Combine the cucumber, grape tomatoes, onion, and avocados in a salad bowl, then top with your dressing.
Surprise! Surprise! Berries make our list of anti-inflammatory foods. It’s no secret that we love berries. Most of our products are made from common berries because they are antioxidant-rich and protect your skin against free radicals. Their anti-inflammatory properties are the icing on the cake for people who want healthy skin and a healthier lifestyle. There are dozens of berries, but the most common ones are blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.
Although I prefer saltwater over freshwater fish, it turns out that eating the latter is slightly better for my health. Healthy fats are not only an essential part of a paleo diet, but they are anti-inflammatory, too. Both saltwater and freshwater fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These acids reduce inflammation by metabolizing into anti-inflammatory compounds called resolvins and protectins. Compared to saltwater fish, freshwater fish may have higher amounts of these healthy fats. Common examples of fatty fish are anchovies, herring, mackerel, sardines, and salmon.
Since it is best to avoid fried foods as part of an anti-inflammatory diet, we fished a simple grilled salmon recipe for you to try, courtesy of The Seasoned Mom.
Salmon steaks (as many as you need depending on how many people are eating)
1-2 garlic cloves (you may use garlic powder as an alternative)
1 teaspoon of blackened seasoning (salt-free if possible)
½ teaspoon of black pepper (use more if you want a kick)
Salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Mince the garlic cloves, then put them aside.
Combine the minced garlic, blackened seasoning, black pepper, salt, and lemon juice to create a paste. Use this paste to baste the salmon steaks. Make sure that the salmon steaks are covered with the seasoning paste entirely.
Place the salmon steaks in a glass pan, then cover it with aluminum foil.
Bake the steaks for about 15-20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and serve with the avocado salad that we shared above.
Note: Before baking, thaw your salmon steaks completely!
Do you love spicy food? I do! There’s something about that kick that brings out the flavor of any dish. Spicy food lovers will be happy to know that peppers have anti-inflammatory properties! Most peppers bell and chili peppers are anti-inflammatory due to the antioxidant quercetin. Peppers are also rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals and promotes healthy skin. Although your tongue and gut may feel enflamed when eating chili peppers, the health benefits outweigh the temporary discomfort. So, add a little spice to your life!
I have a love/hate relationship with tomatoes. Although I cook with them often, you could not pay me to eat them raw. Thank goodness I don’t struggle with inflammation because this fruit is not only an anti-inflammatory but a powerful antioxidant! That means it's ideal for healthy skin, too. Like avocados, tomatoes are rich in potassium. They are also high in vitamin C and lycopene, an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. According to Healthline, cooking tomatoes in olive oil may help you to absorb more of their lycopene content.
When you add these foods to your diet, be sure not to forget your supplements. The Good Stuff is our go-to for our daily dose of holistic goodness. These Ayurvedic supplements are adaptogenic, helping your body resist the damaging effects of stress and promoting normal physiological functioning.
What are some other anti-inflammatory foods that you like to eat? We want to hear from you in the comments below!