Poor eating habits are among the factors that can promote the lasting installation of inflammation in the body. We then speak of pro-inflammatory foods which, consumed regularly and in excess, could aggravate certain pre-existing pathologies or even increase the risk of developing chronic diseases. Conversely, there are so-called anti-inflammatory foods, recommended to help the body fight against this reaction which escapes the regulation of the immune system.
What is the connection between inflammation and diet?
According to Dr. Jean-Michel Lecerf, nutritionist and Nathalie Negro, dietician, the inflammatory state is characterized by chemical reactions that lead to oxidative stress. The latter, which can be linked to several factors, including pollution, alcohol, smoking or infections, in turn leads to the production of free radicals. When present in excess in our body, they promote cell aging and increase the risk of developing certain chronic diseases.
Nutritional and metabolic imbalances are also linked to the inflammatory state. Experts highlight a microbiota imbalance, an acid-base imbalance, when the body’s pH is too high or conversely too low, or even a high omega 6/omega 3 ratio, since omega-6 are considered pro-inflammatory.
Dr. Lecerf also adds that numerous studies suggest that simple sugars, fats and refined grains are likely to contribute to chronic inflammation. Thus, and following this same principle, Nathalie Negro explains that other categories of foods considered anti-inflammatory help reduce inflammation by reducing oxidative stress, regulating the acid-base balance of the body and improving the gut microbiota to some degree.
What are these anti-inflammatory foods?
For Franziska Spritzler, American dietitian, certain foods are to be preferred. While not a substitute for medication, they can still be helpful in fighting inflammation in the body. Here are a few :
In addition to being delicious, cherries are rich in polyphenols and vitamin C with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In an article in the journal Nutrients, researchers explain that their consumption is useful for promoting good health, in particular by preventing or reducing oxidative stress and inflammation.
In addition, cherries are particularly appreciated in herbal medicine where it is considered that they would soothe inflammation of the urinary tract.
Berries are small fruits rich in vitamins, fiber and minerals. They come in several varieties (currants, blackberries, blueberries or cranberries) and are among the most effective natural anti-inflammatories.
Indeed, the berries contain anthocyanins, pigments at the origin of their color. These are notorious antioxidants that also have anti-inflammatory properties. According to a study, their regular consumption would have made it possible to fight the action of proteins involved in inflammation, at the same time reducing oxidative stress and increasing anti-inflammatory cytokines in the body.
Rich in nutrients beneficial to overall health, broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, from the same family as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower or even kale. According to Dr. Martin Juneau, cardiologist and director of prevention at the Montreal Heart Institute, these would protect the blood vessels from oxidative stress and hyperglycemia, which would have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health.
Like Franziska Spritzler, he emphasizes suforaphane, an antioxidant found particularly in broccoli. According to a study published by Preventive Nutrition and Food Science, the latter would have significant anti-inflammatory properties.
4. Oily fish
Oily fish, and in particular the omega-3s they contain, can be useful in improving certain conditions accompanied by an inflammatory state. These polyunsaturated fatty acids have many health benefits and are mainly present in salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna or even sardines.
They come in several types: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and elcosapentaenoic acid (EPA). The last two, which can be produced in small quantities from ALA in the body, are directly available in the fatty fish mentioned above. In addition, they would be able to reduce inflammation that can lead to metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, explains Franziska Spritzler.
Indeed, when they are in the body, EPA and DHA can be transformed into certain compounds, in particular resolvins and protectins, which would be endowed with considerable anti-inflammatory properties, as underlined by an article published by the journal Chemical Reviews.
Other researchers nevertheless point out that supplementation with EPA and DHA would not have reduced inflammatory markers in people with an irregular heartbeat, compared to the placebo group.
Rich in fiber, potassium, magnesium and monounsaturated fatty acids, the avocado is an excellent ally for taking care of your cardiovascular health. But its benefits do not stop there, according to some scientists. Its carotenoid content would fight against inflammation and oxidative stress associated with the effects of ultraviolet rays on the skin.
A modest study published by Food and Function also suggests that eating it alongside a hamburger would reduce certain markers of inflammation, compared to participants who ate it alone.