A number of foods have been found to benefit the immune system in a range of ways. One group of foods is thought to reduce inflammation in the body, leading to less wear and tear and better function in all your bodily systems. Adding anti-inflammatory foods that help your body function better is a good step in not only preventing disease, but also reducing pain in those who are suffering from inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
Another group of foods has been found to trigger inflammation, so avoiding these foods can also provide relief from a range of troublesome symptoms including pain, allergic reactions, eczema, asthma, gluten sensitivity and lactose intolerance. These sensivities are obvious examples of how inflammation can affect anyone’s health. Avoiding inflammatory foods has shown clear benefits in relation to heart disease and all forms of arthritis, particularly rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
The third group of foods that can boost the immune system to prevent disease and enhance health are known as antioxidants. The normal wear and tear on our bodies every day as a result of stress, environmental toxins, unhealthy foods, smoking cigarettes, and so on, is called oxidative stress. It is thought to be a major cause of aging and disease in the body.
Antioxidants are named so because they combat oxidative stress, thus decreasing the wear and tear on the body and reducing the effects of aging. Some antioxidants are so powerful, they have even been associated with cancer prevention. Many high antioxidant foods are also anti-inflammatory foods.
Eating more anti-inflammatory foods while cutting back on inflammatory ones, and adding delicious antioxidants to your diet, is an excellent way to boost your immune system, reduce the effects of aging, and prevent disease. So, which are the best foods to eat, which are the best to avoid?
10 Powerful Anti-inflammatory Foods
1. Wild salmon, sardines and other fatty fish rich with omega-3 fats
2. Olive oil
7. Green leafy vegetables and cruciferous (pronounced CREW-sif-er-us) vegetables like broccoli, collard greens and bok choy
10 Common Inflammatory Foods to Avoid:
2. Gluten (anything made from wheat, barley or rye)
3. Standard cooking oils
4. Trans fats
5. Conventionally raised red meat
6. Processed meats/cold cuts
7. Refined carbohydrates (white flour products such as bread, cereal and pasta)
8. Artificial sweeteners and flavorings such as aspartame and Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
10. Dairy products
10 Foods with the Highest Level of Antioxidants
3. Kidney beans
4. Dark chocolate
It may seem overwhelming at first to make changes to your diet, especially if many of your favorites are on the foods to avoid list. Sadly the Standard American Diet (S.A.D. – no pun intended) is loaded with inflammatory foods. It can be done, though, and a little effort will go a long way towards improving your immune system if you make healthy substitutions. The healthy inflammatory and antioxidant rich foods are delicious!
For example, if you love sweet, sugary foods, use more fruit to curb your cravings. Blueberries and raspberries can be eaten fresh or cooked as part of a healthy dessert. We usually buy blueberries frozen and eat them in place of ice cream or other less healthy desserts.
If you are a meat eater, eating fish for 2 meals a week and beans such as the antioxidant-rich red kidney beans or pintos is easy and tasty too. Instead of eating conventionally raised beef, have grass-fed beef as the fat is healthier.
It’s fun looking up new recipes and exploring cuisines from around the world. For example, the beans are perfect for Mexican or Tex-Mex food. Many of the foods on the anti-inflammatory list are ideal for Chinese, Thai and Indian recipes.
Use these three lists to boost your immune system, and you’ll see what a difference it will make in how you feel.