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Natural Anti-inflammatory Foods

Diabetes, cancer, heart disease… each of these deadly problems involves chronic inflammation.

Before looking at the foods that fight it, it is good to know what it is in the first place. Why do we get inflammation? What good is it?

There are five qualities of inflammation. They are pain, swelling, redness, heat and loss of function. These are your body’s response to injury or trauma. For instance, if you get a cut, the area around the cut becomes swollen, painful, warm and red. It is also often hard to use. Your body protects itself. It rushes healing to the injury.

This is also the body’s response to germs. The germ is the cause. The inflammation is your body’s response to fight it.

For acute trauma and infection, inflammation is a very good thing indeed. It speeds healing and helps prevent further problems.

What about chronic inflammation?

In some ways it is different than the acute form. But it is still your body making an effort to heal. It shows up in diabetes, allergies, immune disorders, joint pain, cancer and heart disease. It also shows up when you over eat.

Of course you can try to control inflammation with drugs. The most common of these are NSAIDs like aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen. The problem is that these only mask the symptoms. They do not stop the cause.

Although doctors often speak of chronic swelling and pain as structural, it isn’t. It is always a biochemical response. There may be physical changes in joints, etc., but they come from chemical changes in the body. That is why anti-inflammatory foods are so useful. Food provides the basic building blocks of all these reactions.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Before diving into this list, know that each person is unique. That means what works well for one person might not work for another. If one of these foods does not help after several weeks, try another. If you know your Metabolic Type® you can zero in more quickly on the right ones for you.

First, be sure to avoid foods that cause inflammation. These include processed and refined foods. Sugar, bread, pasta are all refined. So is most of the food in boxes, cans, jars, bottles and packages.

What’s left? Lots. Focus on eating whole, fresh, natural food. This alone will be a huge plus.

But if you want to go a step further, here are foods to think about adding to your diet.

  • Wild Salmon. Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids (EFA). EFA is very good at fighting inflammation.
  • Extra-virgin Olive Oil. Very helpful. Use in cooking and salads.
  • Spinach. Popeye had it right. Spinach is a potent source of anti-inflammatory compounds. Eat only organically grown
  • Broccoli & Cauliflower. Both have strong anti-cancer effects. Be sure they are pesticide-free. Organic is even better.
  • Natural Enzymes. Papain (from papaya) & bromelain (from pineapple) both fight inflammation.

Inflammation is a natural response to trauma, infection or poor diet. By avoiding the wrong foods and eating more of the right ones you can reduce inflammatory symptoms.

All the best to you for your health and happiness,

Dr. Bruce Eichelberger

Dr. Bruce

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Lauren @ MRSAugust 3, 2011, 4:13 pm

    It’s great to know that I eat at least one of the vegetables on that list. I’m definitely going to try adding the rest of them, and my next goal is to finally have a taste of spinach and cauliflower.

  • Dr. BruceAugust 3, 2011, 4:38 pm

    Hi Lauren,

    As with most foods, the way you cook something makes all the difference. I like simple, so lightly sauteed with butter works well for both of these. We have a friend who steams the cauliflower and then mashes it like potatoes. Add some cheese and butter and it’s great!

    Dr. Bruce

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