Inflammation is usually a healthy process, and the primary way your body fights off illness. An unhealthy diet and lifestyle can lead to chronic inflammation, which may be a leading cause of serious diseases.
It’s well known that intermittent fasting effectively reduces inflammation and increases cell autophagy, but you can do more than that to protect yourself during the harsh winter months.
Eat more of these six foods this winter to avoid chronic inflammation and ensure your immune system works seamlessly!
#1 – Tomatoes
Tomatoes are rich in a unique nutrient called Lycopene. It just so happens to be one of the most potent anti-inflammatory agents found in fruits.
While that sounds great, you may wonder why consuming them in the winter is the right choice. After all, tomatoes are in season over the summer, which is the best time to eat any fruit or vegetable. Well, it just so happens that Lycopene content becomes more readily used in the body when tomatoes are cooked.
Because of this, using stewed tomatoes in hearty winter meals will produce a great defense against inflammation.
Better yet, add some olive oil to your tomato dish. Lycopene is fat-soluble, and olive oil is a healthy, anti-inflammatory source of fat as well! It’s a win-win combination.
#2 – Olive Oil
The effect of using olive oil is twofold: by itself, it can fight inflammation, and it is also used as a replacement for highly inflammatory oils typically used in cooking.
Olive oil contains the potent antioxidant oleocanthal. Extra virgin olive oil is the most productive to fight inflammation, and it may be worth the additional cost.
The real benefit of using olive oil is that it is used to replace oils high in inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids, like canola, corn, soy, and cottonseed. These oils are the most common in unhealthy diets.
They are so common that they tend to create an imbalance between omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acid profiles in the diet. While omega 3s are anti-inflammatory, the omega 6s are inflammatory. If they are balanced, consuming omega 6 fatty acids is healthy. But in excess, they can become unhealthy and promote too much inflammation.
Using olive oil over these typical oils will help balance your fatty acid intake and reduce the risk of excessive inflammation. You can drizzle an olive oil and vinegar dressing over some green leafy vegetables served with a filet or fatty fish for a superb inflammation-fighting meal!
#3 – Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables grow in abundance and pack a punch against inflammation. Here are some of the more common leafy greens to try out this winter:
- Brussel Sprouts
Green leafy vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that act as antioxidants. Using a variety of different leafy greens will ensure different intakes of antioxidants to fight hard against inflammation.
They are great raw or cooked and can be served alongside most other foods on this list. If you don’t like the flavor of leafy greens, you can blend them up with fruit for a healthy smoothie!
#4 – Nuts
Nuts are a healthy addition to any diet. However, not all of them are suitable for those looking to lower inflammation, because they are too high in omega 6 fatty acids.
Look for nuts with high ALA content, an omega 3 fatty acid known for its anti-inflammatory effects. Unfortunately, walnuts are the only nut high in ALA.
If you have already eliminated most of your omega 6 fatty acid intake from traditional cooking oils and processed foods, you can handle other nuts like almonds, macadamia nuts, and pecans.
Staying away from peanuts is the best idea. Technically not a nut, peanuts are very high in omega 6 fatty acids and can promote inflammation.
Nuts can also be high in vitamins and minerals that have antioxidant properties.
#5 – Fatty Fish
Fatty fish are high in omega 3 fatty acids, and most people don’t consume enough of it.
Sure, you could take a supplement to supply EPA and DHA. But fatty fish provides healthy fats and ample protein to support healthier body composition.
When looking to increase your fatty fish intake this winter, it’s essential to choose the right types of fish to reduce mercury exposure and ensure the nutritional quality of the fish itself.
For example, most farmed fish are lower in omega 3 fatty acids, which is the main factor that produces an anti-inflammatory effect from the fish intake.
Opt for wild-caught fish when you can. Also, choose smaller fish to avoid mercury as larger fish higher in the food chain accumulates more of it. Small fish like sardines, anchovies, chub mackerel, and herring are ideal.
If you want to enjoy a larger fish, it’s essential to choose the right species. Salmon and tuna can be good choices, but other large fish like shark or swordfish are not recommended.
#6 – Fruits
So many different fruits work to lower inflammation in the body. Just like vegetables, they are rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that act to boost your immune system.
Here are some of the most potent fruits to fight inflammation:
While too much sugar can increase inflammation, the natural sugar in fruits is hardly an issue when consumed as part of a healthy diet.
If you are working to include more tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy vegetables, nuts, and fatty fish in your diet, fruit is another obvious addition. However, if you tend to gorge on brownies and cookies, the sugar in fruit may cause more harm than good.
Too much emphasis is placed on the carbohydrate content of fruit, and some people label it as bad since most people over-consume carbohydrates. If you are sticking with intermittent fasting and working on getting healthier already, fruit is a perfect fit!
While inflammation is useful when fighting off a regular winter cold or flu, too much can be very harmful to your body.
How can you fight inflammation this winter?
- Stick with your intermittent fasting routine.
- Feast on the six foods listed in this article.
- Don’t forget to have a little rest!