We all have it, whether we’re aware of it or not: inflammation. It’s your body’s natural response as it works to protect you from pathogens, eliminate toxins, and repair damaged tissue. When this inflammation carries on for an extended period of time, it becomes what is known as chronic inflammation. It is linked to a wide range of diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, and more.
However, certain lifestyle choices, including diet, can help you to ease chronic inflammation and support your body’s healthy processes. Here are 10 delicious and simple food swaps to help reduce inflammation.
Whole grains instead of white bread
Because refined carbohydrates, like those found in white bread and pasta, are broken down quickly in the body, they can cause blood sugar levels to spike when you eat them. This rapid increase in blood sugar causes an inflammatory response within your body that can eventually lead to insulin resistance.
Instead, choose whole grains, like quinoa and oatmeal, which take longer to break down and do not cause such a drastic rise in blood sugar levels.
Salmon fillets instead of beef steaks
Red meats like, beef, bison, and venison, are high in saturated fat, which has been shown to cause inflammation. Instead of grilling up that steak for dinner, try subbing in a salmon fillet. With plenty of DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is a natural inflammation fighter.
To make sure you’re getting enough of these omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, aim to eat salmon or other fatty fish, such as sardines, at least twice a week. If you need a little inspiration, try this Salmon Quinoa Bowl with Golden Tahini Drizzle recipe.
Home roasted chicken instead of packaged lunch meat
Processed and cured meats, like those you find pre-sliced and pre-packaged, are high in saturated fats and preservatives. Research has shown that consumption of processed meats can lead to a wide-range of inflammation-related diseases, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Instead of serving up cured or processed meats for lunch, choose chicken that you’ve roasted yourself. This way, you know what’s in it and can avoid any inflammation-causing additives.
Berries instead of sweets
Sugar and high fructose corn syrup make candies, cakes, and cookies sweet and delicious, but they also cause inflammation within the body when you eat them. Research suggests that high-sugar foods can damage gut flora, cause obesity, and increase risk of liver damage.
Swap out those high sugar sweets for berries instead. Berries have a low glycemic index, meaning they can help avoid inflammation-causing blood sugar spikes. Berries also contain polyphenols, specifically anthocyanins, that create an anti-inflammatory response in your body.
Iced herbal tea instead of pop
The sugar in soda pops and other sweetened drinks causes your body to release inflammatory cytokines, protein messengers that incite inflammatory responses in the body.
Herbal teas, also known as tisanes, can be iced to offer a refreshing, flavourful, caffeine-free, sugar-free and antioxidant-rich alterative to pop. You can learn to make your own herbal, floral, and fruit iced teas and find some great recipes to try out here.
Honey instead of refined sugar and artificial sweeteners
Can’t do without a sweetener in your coffee or tea? Skipping inflammation-causing refined sugar and artificial sweeteners in favour of small amounts of honey could be the answer.
While it’s true that honey is mostly sugar, it also contains a complex mix of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants that has anti-inflammatory properties. Honey has been found to help protect against various diseases, including cardiovascular conditions and cancer. Research has shown that honey may even be beneficial for diabetes management.
EVOO instead of seed vegetable oil
When your body has too many omega-6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3 fatty acids, it creates a pro-inflammatory response. Reducing your omega-6 intake and upping your omega-3 intake can bring the ratio of the two fatty acids back into balance, and checking your cooking oils can be a good place to start.
Canola, corn, safflower oil, and sunflower oil are all high in omega-6. However, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is low in omega-6 and can be a good substitute for low temperature cooking. EVOO also contains phenolic compounds that offer antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Avocado instead of mayo
Similar to vegetable oils, mayo can be a high source of omega-6. Swapping out your mayo for mashed or creamed avocado can offer a tasty and rich replacement with healthy fats that actually fight inflammation. You can even make a batch of this avocado mayo, which is not only delicious, but high in vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, and fiber, and will last you all week.
Walnuts instead of croutons
Salad or soup can be extra enjoyable when topped with some crispy croutons, but those little morsels can spike your blood sugar and cause inflammation. Instead, sub in the crunch of walnuts. These delicious nuts have been shown to reduce inflammation associated with heart disease and have been found to be helpful in preventing cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
Kombucha instead of alcohol
Drinking heavily on a regular basis has been linked to a wide array of health problems, including inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract and damage to the liver and brain.
Kombucha, a fermented tea, also contains alcohol, but in very small amounts – no more than an estimated 0.5 to 3 percent. Kombucha is a good swap for your regular alcoholic beverage of choice because, not only does it taste great, it’s loaded with polyphenols. These act as antioxidants in the body, decreasing inflammation.