I’m sure you have heard it many times: food is medicine. The foods we eat can have such a profound affect on how our bodies function. It can effect how we feel from day to day and most importantly on our overall health. Inflammation in the body has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, dementia, inflammatory bowel disease and kidney disease. So knowing how to prevent and even fight against inflammation in the body can help reduce your risk for developing chronic disease.
What causes inflammation?
Inflammation can be caused by a variety of lifestyle factors including smoking, stress and diet. A diet that is low in fruit, vegetables and plant based proteins will not help inflammation. Diets high in meat, refined grains and added sugars can cause inflammation. Diets high in saturated and trans fats can lead to inflammation as well. If not treated properly this could all lead to chronic disease and illness.
Are there specific foods and nutrients that can fight inflammation?
There are a number of different foods that can help protect against inflammation. Foods that are high in antioxidants and phytochemicals, fight against chronic disease by preventing damage to cells in the body can help fight against inflammation.
Fruit and vegetables are high in both phytochemicals and antioxidants. Focus more on a plant based diet to ensure a variety, daily.
In addition, foods that are high in omega 3, magnesium, fiber and beta carotene have also been found to reduce inflammation.
How can I get more in my diet?
- To get more omega 3 in your diet: Aim for 2 servings of fatty fish each week. Choose fish like salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel and trout. All these options are high in omega 3.
- For magnesium: Include more nuts and seeds in your day. Choose them for snacks, top salads, cereal, oats, pasta dishes and yogurt with nuts or seeds to add flavor, crunch and anti inflammatory properties. Legumes, whole grains and fish are also high in magnesium.
- For beta carotene, an antioxidant: Include a variety of bright orange and leafy green vegetables in your diet to get what you need to fight against inflammation. Try kale, spinach, Swiss chard, sweet potato, carrots and pumpkin.
- For fiber: Include a variety of fruit, vegetables, legumes, as well as whole grains such as barley, bulgur, quinoa, steel cut and large flake oats.
There are many ways to help reduce your risk of chronic disease and adding in a few key nutrients and delicious foods is a great way to reduce inflammation and reduce your risk!
Try this recipe for Swiss Chard and White Bean Toss to up your nutrient intake to fight inflammation and chronic disease. Serve over quinoa, barley or brown rice for more fiber!
Swiss Chard and White Bean Toss
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 medium carrot peeled, diced
- 1 bunch Swiss chard washed, chopped
- 1 can cannellini beans drained, rinse
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup brown rice cooked
- In a sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
- Once oil shimmers and is hot, add onion and garlic; saute until softened.
- Add carrot and saute for an addition 3-4 minutes.
- Add Swiss chard; cook for 5 minutes. Add beans and heat through.
- Serve over brown rice or eat alone.