Anti-Inflammatory Foods to your Diet : Inflammation is our body’s natural response to foreign substances, whether they be microbes, chemicals, or allergens. Having an immune response is a good thing, but as we age, our bodies become worse at fighting the effects of inflammation. Seniors are more prone to developing auto-immune diseases where this natural process turns against parts of the body and attacks healthy tissue.
As a result, chronic inflammation is linked to many of the health problems facing American seniors today. Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease, and arthritis can be connected to higher levels of inflammation in the body. However, there are natural ways you can reduce levels of inflammation by introducing anti-inflammatory foods into your diet. If you’d like to learn about how to stay healthy and maintain an independent senior living lifestyle, keep reading!
As always – consult with your doctor before implementing any lifestyle changes.
Look For Foods with High Antioxidant Levels
Many fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that help absorb and dispel free radicals in the body. Free-radicals are molecules with unpaired electrons that, when left to roam around your body, can steal electrons from molecules that make up healthy cells, leading to cellular damage. Foods with antioxidants can supply these free radicals with the electrons they need, so they don’t steal them from your cells.
Not all fruits and vegetables are made equal, however. When searching for high antioxidant fruits and vegetables, look out for these critical foods:
According to the USDA, red beans have the highest amount of antioxidants per serving size. Kidney beans and pinto beans came in third and fourth, according to the same study.
You can incorporate more beans into your diet by adding beans to soups, eating beans in your salad, and preparing bean dips for snacks.
From highest to lowest, wild blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries all have significant amounts of antioxidants per serving size, according to the same USDA study.
The list of creative ways you can incorporate berries into your diet is quite long! From adding them to your morning cereal or afternoon salad to parfaits and health smoothies, you can always find a way to garnish a meal with tart berries.
The old adage about apples holds true to this day. Apples such as red delicious, granny smith, and gala varieties were all listed in the USDA’s top 20 highest antioxidant foods.
Apples are the perfect snack – portable, lightweight, and durable. However, there are ways to incorporate apples into all three meals, whether adding apples to oatmeal, salads or cooked as a garnish for lighter meats like pork or chicken.
Some of the other foods that made the USDA’s list are artichokes, russet potatoes, pecans, and dark, leafy greens.
Look for Healthy Fats and Oils(Anti-Inflammatory Foods)
When it comes to fats, you should be on the lookout for foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These types of fats have been shown to help keep the heart healthy, lower bad cholesterol, and raise good cholesterol. Also, a diet rich in healthy fats and oils can help maintain eye health and protect against depression and Alzheimers.
Polyunsaturated fats like those found in marine and some plant life contain super-beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish are by and large the best source of omega-3 fatty acids. Look for anchovies, herring, salmon, mackerel, trout, and tuna, as these are the fish with the highest levels of omega-3.
You can also get Omega-3s from plant and dairy sources. Many of the foods covered in the antioxidant section are also full of healthy fats – like beans and leafy greens. However, you can find omega-3 in eggs, certain tree nuts like walnuts, chia seeds, and even mayonnaise!
The other good fat can be found in various oils like olive, canola, avocado, peanut, and sesame oils. These food sources contain the compound oleic acid, which aids in heart health and can reduce blood pressure.
Certain food sources, such as olives, are also high in antioxidants and essential vitamins. This is why many diets like the Mediterranean diet incorporate 1 – 3 servings of olive oil a day (as well as copious amounts of fish).
A Holistic Approach
The best path forward is often the middle path – one that takes the best ideas from various approaches and blends them. With regards to reducing inflammation, your diet is a significant part of the equation, though it is not the only part of the equation. Exercise and medication are also valuable tools for reducing inflammation. Remember, you must talk to your doctor before changing your diet, starting a new medication, or introducing a new exercise regimen.
About the Author
Jennifer Bell is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast, and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey.