In the news this week was a study reporting findings from a blood test that could predict Alzheimer’s disease, which is a disease associated with inflammation. While this particular study is preliminary, it got us thinking about inflammation in general. Inflammation can happen all over the body. While there are a few ways to test for inflammation, it turns out that high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) is the best indicator currently known. The amount of overall inflammation can be an indicator of health and a general marker for a host of chronic diseases. Some of the diseases associated with inflammation, in addition to Alzheimer’s, include cancer, cardiovascular, pulmonary, neurological and autoimmune diseases, as well as type 2 diabetes, and arthritis.
Since March is National Nutrition Month, let’s look at foods that affect inflammation – for better or for worse.
Foods That Are (and Aren’t) Inflammatory
Foods that create inflammation are sugar, additives, refined grains, and processed foods in general. Common examples of foods that have these ingredients include (but are not limited to) muffins, pizza, cookies, breads, cereal, cakes, chips, crackers, and candy.
A good rule of thumb could be that if it can be found in a convenience store or it has a shelf life longer than your pet, it’s probably a food that will cause inflammation.
Foods that help fight inflammation are rich in antioxidants, like:
- Vitamin C: Citrus, berries, melons, kale, kiwi, mangoes, papaya, bell peppers, snow peas, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, and radishes.
- Vitamin E: Nuts and seeds, olives, apricots, red peppers, flaxseed oil, as well as leafy greens like chard, mustard and turnip.
- Beta carotene: Think orange, pink, and green. Apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, tangerines, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash, mangoes, corn, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, tomatoes, watermelon, beets, asparagus, broccoli, green peppers, and leafy greens.
- Zinc: Oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains, and dairy.
- Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA): Yeast, organ meat, spinach, broccoli, and potatoes.
Omega-3 is another champion for fighting inflammation and can be found in nuts, fish, and olive oil.
The Menu: A day of meals & snacks to help you be your best self
The theme for National Nutrition Month is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right,” so we dreamed up a few recipes for an entire day of meals that help fight inflammation and taste great. Here’s what they look like:
Frozen mangoes and berries + flaxseed oil, 2-3 handfuls of spinach/kale. Add 1 cup almond milk and water. Blend.
Snack: Strawberries dipped in almond butter
Lunch: Salmon “Caesar” salad
- Salad: Chopped romaine lettuce, red bell peppers, and red onion (feel free to add in any other chopped veggies you have in the fridge).
- Dressing: Whisk 2 tablespoons of Tahini, splash of extra virgin olive oil + splash of red wine vinegar + salt and pepper to taste. Mix salad with dressing and top with grilled salmon.
Snack: Tomatoes drizzled with extra virgin olive oil; sprinkle with himalayan rock salt + cracked black pepper
Dinner: Grass-fed beef chili + roasted veggie toss
- Top chili with sliced avocado
- Veggies: Chop asparagus and broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Toss with coconut oil and roast on a cookie sheet in a 375-degree oven until tender. Toss with fresh herbs like parsley, dill or rosemary when they first come out of the oven.
Bonus: More snacks
- Broccoli dipped in hummus
- Baked sweet potato topped with peanut butter
- Raspberries + almonds
Regularly testing your biomarkers via a WellnessFX Baseline test will allow you to monitor your hs-CRP levels and see whether you need to improve. Comment on this post with your favorite recipe – we love great tasting food that keeps us healthy!
The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.