Chronic inflammation is a common thread among a wide spread of conditions like stroke, cancer, obesity, Alzheimer's, heart disease, arthritis and depression, according to Men's Journal. Not all sources of inflammation are entirely preventable: As we age, for example, our immune system weakens and chronic inflammation is more likely. While you can't control the number of candles on your birthday cake, there are measures you can take to reduce the intensity at which chronic inflammation strikes. Your diet is a good place to start. Replacing unhealthy eats like processed foods and alcohol with super foods could help. “[Bad foods] cause overactivity in the immune system, which can lead to joint pain, fatigue, and damage to the blood vessels,” Scott Zashin, MD, a clinical professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas told Health.com. Alexis Joseph M.S, R.D., author of Hummusapien spoke with The Huffington Post about the mightiest anti-inflammatory eats. Check them out below.
Fatty fish like salmon provides "a hefty dose of both EPA and DHA," Joseph said, which are two powerful omega-3 fatty acids that can reduce inflammation and lower risk for cancer, heart disease, asthma, and autoimmune diseases. Related foods: Other fatty fish, like mackerel, sardines and tuna. You can also consider taking fish-oil supplements.
Including beets in your diet has a number of benefits, including lowering blood pressure, boosting your stamina and -- yep! -- combatting inflammation. Beets contain a nutrient called betaine, which has been shown to decrease risk for inflammation. Related foods: Beetroot juice, beet juice.
Vitamin K, an anti-inflammatory powerhouse, can be found in most dark leafy greens, like kale. Joseph said that just a single cup of kale provides 10 percent of the recommended daily amount of anti-inflammatory omega-3's (the kind that can be found in fish) as well. Related foods: Any dark, leafy green, like spinach and chard.
Soy-based foods like tofu boast isolflavones and omega 3s, which may help lower levels of inflammation in the body. Related foods: "Whole food sources like organic tofu, tempeh, edamame and miso are best," said Joseph.
Tomatoes are packed with lycopene, an antioxidant that is an inflammation-fighter. Joseph said cooking these red fruits will actually amplify their anti-inflammation properties, since heat brings out more lycopene. Related foods: Tomato juice and colorful veggies with low levels of starch, like peppers, squash and greens.
Blueberries get their bright blue pigment from a class of antioxidants called anthocyanins, which fight inflammation. "Studies suggest that increased blueberry consumption not only reduces oxidative stress, but also increases anti-inflammatory cytokines and natural killer cell counts," Joseph said. Related foods: Raspberries and strawberries. Frozen berries do not loose their antioxidant capacity -- so feel fry to buy them in the freezer aisle.
Like fish, almonds are rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3's. Joseph said the nuts are also packed with vitamin E, which helps "lubricate the joints and protect the body from pro-inflammatory cytokines." Related foods: Nuts!
Tart cherries, which are supremely high in antioxidants, have been studied to find that they greatly combat inflammation. In one study, long-distance runners who drank tart cherry juice on race day had less inflammation and recovered faster than those who didn't have the juice. Related foods: Tart cherry juice.
Garlic is often touted for its medicinal properties. The vegetable can add anti-inflammatory to its long resume, as research has found that it prevents inflammatory substances called cytokines from developing. Better yet, heating garlic increases its anti-inflammatory effects (which is great, because eating raw garlic doesn't sound too appealing). Related foods: Onions.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
"Olive oil is rich in polyphenols and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that help kick inflammation to the curb," said Joseph. According to Arthritis Today, the oil has similar anti-inflammatory effects as ibuprofen and aspirin.
Written By: Kate Bratskeir