7 Inflammation busting, Brain boosting foods!
While acute inflammation can help us overcoming injuries or infections, ongoing inflammation from your diet and lifestyle can lead to mood disorders, chronic diseases like diabetes and CVD, weight gain and brain conditions like dementia.
Studies show that some foods can reduce inflammation by providing antioxidants, fibre and phytonutrients which can reduce inflammatory processes in the body and keep your immune system functioning well.
Here are 7 anti-inflammatory foods that not only reduce inflammation but also help boost your brain health.
Always top of my list, berries are powerhouses for the body and brain.
They contain anthocyanins which are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds and have powerful effects on the way our body functions. Berries have been linked to reduced inflammatory markers in the blood, better cognition and memory too.
- GREEN TEA
So often underestimated, green tea packs an anti-inflammatory punch. It contains a substance called EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-galate) which has been shown to be highly anti-inflammatory by reducing cytokine production (inflammatory chemicals). It’s also one of the brain-boosting foods and is connected to reduced risk of Alzheimer’s obesity and heart disease.
Literally gold dust! The turmeric spice contains the active component curcumin which is not only highly anti-inflammatory but has also been labelled “Anti-Alzheimer’s” as it helps to reduce inflammation and reduce the build up of Amyloid plaques. Eating turmeric daily can help, or you can go for a curcumin supplement combined with black pepper for a super anti-inflammatory effect.
- FATTY FISH
The Omega 3 fats EPA and DHA found in fatty fish reduce inflammation and specifically help the brain cells since our brain is largely made up of fats! Omega 3 fats aren’t as common in Western diets as the more inflammatory Omega 6 fats, so ensuring you eat fish 2x a week and/or take an EPA/DHA supplement is crucial for a happy, healthy, non-inflamed brain.
- DARK CHOCOLATE + COCOA
Ah yes, I love that this can make the list! The flavonols found in chocolate are responsible for it’s anti-inflammatory effects and are specifically good for the blood vessels and the brain and help you to age more healthily. Chocolate has been linked to improvements in mood and cognition also – win win!
- CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES
Broccoli, Kale and other cruciferous vegetables contain sulforaphane. This is an antioxidant which reduces levels of specific cytokines (inflammatory chemicals in the body) that drive inflammation. Do don’t hate on sprouts and kale! They also are a good source of Vitamins and minerals which help keep the body and immune system in tip top shape.
- PEPPERS AND CHILI
You might think spicy foods promote inflammation but in fact they contain some very anti-inflammatory substances. Not only are they loaded with Vitamin C but they also contain quercetin which is highly anti-inflammatory and helps both the nerve cells and the blood vessels in the brain. Chilis also contain sinapic acid and ferulic acid which can reduce inflammation and promote healthier ageing.
This post wouldn’t be complete without a quick note on the foods that PROMOTE inflammation also. You’ll want to reduce these as much as possible and replace them with more anti-inflammatory foods from above:
- Processed foods (especially those containing vegetable or seed oils which are high in inflammatory fats)
- Refined carbohydrates
- Sugary drinks and sweets
- Fried Foods
- Trans fats (margarine, hydrogenated vegetable oils and fried foods)
It’s a bit of a no-brainer (excuse the pun) – aim to eat whole, real food first and don’t get tricked by processed foods labelled as “healthy”!