How to Reduce Inflammation With These Foods and Supplements

Rudy Mawer
Written By: Rudy Mawer
June 24th, 2016
Updated: June 13th, 2020
Categories: Articles Supplements
18.7K Reads
How to Reduce Inflammation With These Foods and Supplements
Chronic inflammation leads to an array of health complications. Learn which foods are the best to eat and which supplements to take to combat inflammation!

Normally, short-term inflammation is a natural process that plays an important role in healing and cellular repair when you’re injured or sick.

However, it can also be bad, very bad, depending on the cause and duration.

This is known as chronic low-key inflammation, and plays an integrative role in diseases such as Arthritis, Obesity, Cancer.

It's roots are often based in poor nutritional choices or other unhealthy lifestyle decisions.

Inflammation is a very serious issue. Some researchers even state it as the key cause of diseases1,2,3.

What Causes Inflammation?

There are a host of lifestyle factors that can combine to cause inflammation. Here are things to watch out for:

Elevated Blood Sugar Levels: Numerous studies have shown when your ability to handle carbohydrates and blood sugar levels is impaired, cell damage can results from constantly high blood sugar levels. This causes an increase in inflammatory-associated genes and increased inflammation4.

Related: Carbs Aren't Making You Fat - The Truth About Insulin

Processed Food: Increased intake of processed foods, sugar-sweetened drinks, sweets, candies and baked products are associated with higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a pro-inflammatory marker used to measure inflammation 5.

Processed Food Burger

Body fat: Increase in body fat levels and obesity can elevate pro-inflammatory markers and contribute to chronic inflammation6.

Food Allergies: Eating foods that you are allergic to leads to rapid increases in inflammation.

Food Intolerances: Although you'll know if real intolerance occurs, eating foods you are only slightly intolerant to can be a serious issue. Since the side effects are more mild (bloating, stomach cramp, gastrointestinal stress etc), you may continue to eat these foods, which can contribute to chronic inflammation.

Disrupted Gut: Bacteria or fungal infections, leaky gut or disruptions to your healthy gut bacteria can shoot your immune system into overdrive and inflammation7, 8.

Cortisol & Stress: Cortisol, the stress hormone, can lead to whole body systemic inflammation, with studies noting large increases in CRP or pro-inflammatory cytokines9.

Environmental Toxins: Toxins from BPA plastics and containers, fragrances, unfiltered water, air pollutants etc. can contribute to low-grade inflammation.

How to Know if You Have Chronic Inflammation

To get an accurate indicator of your inflammation levels it requires expensive blood tests. However, some common signs or symptoms you experience daily may be linked to chronic inflammation. These include:

  • Long-term joint pain
  • Gut or Digestive Issues
  • Regular Fungal or Viral infections
  • Acid Reflux
  • Arthritis or similar disease
  • Chronic Pain
  • Blood Sugar or Metabolic Issues
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis

While these symptoms may be present for numerous other reasons, if you suspect you have inflammatory issues it's worth consulting a medical professional to undergo specific tests.

How to Reduce Inflammation

For most of us who are healthy, relatively lean and exercising on a regular basis, the chances of chronic inflammation is not a life-threatening issue. However, it may still interfere with your health, performance and body composition. Thus, reducing inflammation can only help.

Eat More Of These Foods

Berries: Packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals and importantly, antioxidants, berries are the perfect food to fight inflammation. Along with a high antioxidant content (which fights free radicals and Reactive Oxygen Species), berries contain special antioxidants known as anthocyanins. These have been shown to combat inflammation and reduce the risk of disease10, 11, 12.

Reduce Inflammation with Berries

Fish: Omega 3 fats found in oily fish are a well-known “superfood”. Specifically, the EPA and DHA fats found in fish are key for fighting inflammation13, 14. This can help combat serious health issues such as kidney disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.

For anyone not eating oily fish on a daily basis, I strongly recommend a high-quality omega 3 fish oil supplement15, 16, 17.

Dark Green Vegetables: Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, and kale are incredibly healthy. Research has shown they also fight inflammation due to specific antioxidants they contain. For example, broccoli is high in sulforaphane, which can reduce inflammatory cytokines and NF-kB18.

Avocado: A world renowned superfood, avocados are one of the best fat sources you can include in your diet. High in healthy monounsaturated fat, magnesium, fiber, and potassium, they also contain inflammation-reducing compounds19, 20.

Related: Complete Guide To Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) For Health & Performance

Green Tea: Not only will green tea fight off disease and help you shed fat, it can lower inflammation. This is primarily due to the EGCG compound found in green tea, which can lower pro-inflammatory cytokines. Unless you drink several cups of green tea per day, and every day, I recommend a high-concentrate EGCG supplement21, 22.

Cocoa & Dark Chocolate: Another famous superfood, highly concentrated dark chocolate and 100% Cocoa is packed full of antioxidants known as flavanols which can help reduce inflammation. Aim for at least 85% dark chocolate or add 100% cocoa powder to shakes, smoothies, yogurt etc23.

Tomatoes: Tomatoes are an under-appreciated vegetable (although technically classed as a fruit!) with an extremely high Vitamin C and lycopene content. Lycopene is a key antioxidant that can combat inflammation and some types of cancer24, 25.

Take These Supplements

Alpha-Lipoic Acid: ALA is a key fatty acid produced by the body, playing a role in metabolism and energy production. It functions like an antioxidant and can protect the cells from damage and inflammation, and reduces insulin resistance / improves insulin sensitivity. Take around 400 - 500mg per day to get the full benefits of ALA26.

Circumin: Obtained from the spice tumeric, circumin can decrease inflammation in diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Supplement recommendations vary. However, around 500mg per day is good if it also contains piperine or bioperine which rapidly increases absorption27.

Reduce Inflamation Taking Supplements

Ginger: Ginger is another under-appreciated superfood that can aid in health, combat disease and inflammation, and may also improve anabolic hormones, such as testosterone levels.

There are two key components found in ginger known as gingerol and zingerone which play a key role in this, helping reduce inflammation linked to diseases such as diabetes, breast cancer and kidney issues. Take around 1000mg (1g) per day28, 29.

Related: Top 5 Supplements You Need to Be Taking

Resveratrol: One of the world’s most powerful antioxidants found in purple color fruits, resveratrol is being used to combat free radical production in cancer and can also combat inflammation, insulin resistance, and numerous other diseases30.

Reduce These Inflammatory Food Groups

In addition to taking measures to reduce inflammation, you should obviously aim to stop it from arising in the first place. To keep inflammation low and reduce disease risk, consider limiting the intake of the following food groups:

  • Excessive Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup31, 32,
  • Artificial Trans Fats33, 34,
  • Vegetable and Seed Oils35,
  • Refined Carbohydrates36, 37,
  • Excessive Alcohol Consumption38,
  • Processed Meats39.

As always, moderation is key. Base your diet on 80% whole, natural foods and keep the processed foods listed above to only 10% - 20% of your dietary intake. Other lifestyle factors such as regular exercise, good sleep, keeping stress low and avoiding excessive exposure to toxins can all play an important role1,2,3.

Remember, the research on inflammation is very strong, showing it plays an underpinning role in nearly every disease such as cancers, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and many others.

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