More than a fad diet, the movement toward anti-inflammatory foods is about recognizing the nutritional impact food can have on mobility and pain levels. While it’s natural for your body to induce inflammation in response to an injury or illness, as a means of healing, long-term inflammation isn’t positive. It can make you feel sluggish, negatively affect your joints, and trigger heart disease, diabetes, depression, and memory disorders.
Anti-inflammatory foods work with the body’s response to chronic pain as well as its everyday functionality through antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber. Perhaps you’ve experienced an injury recently or that injury from long ago didn’t heal quite right. Maybe you’re managing the effects of arthritis or cancer. Or you simply want to take good care of your body because you enjoy physical activity and want to live the best life possible. Whichever road you’re on, there are some superstar food choices that may be missing from your current menu.
SO WHAT ARE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOODS?
As you may have suspected, there’s a rainbow of healthy, anti-inflammatory food choices.
Fruits and fruit-based oils
- olive oil
- coconut oil
- pomegranate seeds
Vegetables (green and leafy, cruciferous*, and root)
- Swiss chard
- Brussels sprouts
- bok choy
*If you have thyroid issues, it’s best to only eat cruciferous vegetables that have been cooked and limit your intake to about one to two servings per day.
Whole grains, seeds, nuts and legumes
- brown rice
- whole oats
- whole wheat
**Recommended daily serving size: less than 5 tablespoons
- Atlantic mackerel
- lake trout
- sablefish/black cod
- Albacore tuna
According to the Arthritis Foundation website, eating a 3- to 6-ounce serving of these fish two to four times a week is recommended for lowering inflammation and protecting the heart.
- green tea
- black tea
BEST FARMERS’ MARKETS: AROUND THE CORNER AND ACROSS THE U.S.
From the vivid berries to the leafy greens to the omega-3 rich fatty fish, anti-inflammatory foods can be found at your local grocer or farmers’ market. While there are many quality vendors at most farmers’ market, The Daily Meal blog has compiled a list of “the best in the U.S.”, from coast to coast. See a representative listing here and look for a link to their list at end of this post.
Santa Monica Wednesday Market, Santa Monica, California
Portland State University Farmers’ Market, Portland, Oregon
Jack London Square Farmers’ Market, Oakland, California
Green City Market, Chicago, Illinois
St. Louis Metro Market Downtown Farmers’ Market, Des Moines, Iowa
Dane County Farmers’ Market, Madison, Wisconsin
Crescent City Farmers’ Market, New Orleans, Louisiana
Eastern Market, Washington, D.C.
Charleston Farmers’ Market, Charleston, South Carolina
Union Square Greenmarket, New York City, New York
Burlington Farmers’ Market, Burlington, Vermont
Boston Copley Square Farmers Market, Boston, Massachusetts
PARTNERS IN REDUCING INFLAMMATION
In addition to modifying your diet, there are many ways to treat and manage prolonged pain — ranging from gentle to invasive options. An anti-inflammatory diet and over-the-counter pain relievers are among the more gentle means of treatment, without the addictive side effects that may result from opioids.
Among the over-the-counter options available, NeoRelief for Pain is a gentle, clear, odorless alternative pain relief gel that uses active botanicals and minerals to soothe pain and inflammation. It’s best for muscle strains, back pain, knee pain, and arthritis-related pain. Other NeoRelief alternative pain relief products are available for muscle cramps, restlessness in the legs, menstrual cramps, and wound care. Also, be sure to speak with your doctor about the pain management options and opioid alternatives best for your health conditions.
While you can’t choose your predisposition toward certain health conditions, you can choose what you put in and on your body. Seeking out anti-inflammatory foods and adopting other healthy habits go a long way toward making the most of your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health said it best, “A healthy diet is beneficial not only for reducing the risk of chronic diseases, but also for improving mood and overall quality of life. Choose the right foods, and you may be able to reduce your risk of illness. Consistently pick the wrong ones, and you could accelerate the inflammatory disease process.”
Sources and bonus material
Harvard Health Publishing
The Daily Meal
7 Questions You Should Be Asking at the Farmers’ Market
Understanding Pain and Your Body’s Cues