Supplements like curcumin, French grape seed extract, and andrographis are powerful additions to your anti-inflammatory efforts. But unless you pair them with an anti-inflammatory diet, you won’t truly quench the low-level inflammation that contributes to so many diseases.
An increasing number of studies show that inflammation makes you more vulnerable to insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and type 2 diabetes. But a steady dose of low-level inflammation also increases your risk of other life-disrupting conditions like heart disease and dementia. It can even contribute to premature aging! And the most common culprit in creating all of this harmful inflammation is what you eat and drink every day. By trading pro-inflammatory foods for anti-inflammatory choices, you’ll automatically reduce your risk and help optimize your health. In fact, it may even help you age backwards!
PRO-INFLAMMATORY VS. ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOODS
As a general rule, ultra-processed or sugary foods can spark or worsen chronic inflammation. Fresh, minimally processed foods, on the other hand, are more likely to reduce inflammation throughout the body. As a bonus, these foods are also rich in nutrients, including healthy fats and important antioxidants known as polyphenols.
|Foods That Trigger Inflammation|
|Alcohol (in excess)|
|Breads (all varieties)|
|Cookies and cakes|
|Commercially fried foods|
|Factory-farmed red meat|
|Grains (especially those with gluten such as barley or wheat)|
|Pie and other pastries|
|Seed oils (canola, corn, safflower, soy)|
|Sodas, sweetened teas, and sports drinks|
|Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup|
|Ultra-processed junk food|
|Foods That Extinguish Inflammation|
|Dark chocolate (70%+ cacao content)|
|Grass-fed, grass-finished, or pastured meat|
|Extra-virgin olive oil|
|Fatty fish (wild-caught anchovies, salmon, sardines)|
|Mushrooms (all varieties)|
|Nuts and seeds (all varieties)|
|Peppers (bell and chili peppers)|
|Red wine (in moderation)|
If you want to kick chronic inflammation to the curb, remember that one of the most powerful weapons isn’t found in your pharmacy. Instead, it’s found in your neighborhood grocery store. When possible, purchase whole, unprocessed foods with no labels. For foods like cooking oils or condiments, read the labels before putting them in your cart to ensure they are free from pro-inflammatory ingredients.