For those looking to improve their health, a Mediterranean diet that includes raw honey can allegedly lower your risk of heart disease and comes with reduced occurrences of cancer, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. Additionally, a Mediterranean diet is among the few diets that’s been given a Level of Evidence A Recommendation, which means evidence has been established in several high-end studies. Much of what gives Mediterranean diets their edge is that they consist of many anti-inflammatory food items, such as herbs, fish, red wine, and various plant-based foods. You may be asking: what’s the big deal with preventing inflammation?
To give you an idea of inflammation’s role in our daily lives, acute inflammation is how the body responds to injury or attack. When we become sick or get cut, white blood cells and macrophages work to lower the swelling and fix the damage. On the other hand, low-level, chronic inflammation can cause diabetes, cancer, obesity, osteoarthritis, and heart disease, and it can happen in response to unwanted substances within the body, including excess fat cells. This is why most strokes and heart attacks take place, after a build-up of fatty plaque (caused by inflammation) causes a clot that blocks blood flow.
One of the largest sources of inflammation is dietary factors, with dairy, casein, gluten, food additives, trans fats, and omega-6 fatty acids being examples of “pro-inflammatory foods.” Because the body can’t recognize these factors, this can lead to inflammation, which is why reducing these types of foods in your diet can help to decrease inflammation as well as improving your overall health. It’s also important to know which anti-inflammatory foods provide a counter to this in the form of protective compounds like polyphenols and antioxidants. Some of these foods include the following:
- Berries: This includes strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries, all of which have elevated levels of antioxidants that help to prevent free radical damage in cells. Also, berries can act as a suitable alternative for sugar whenever you’re wanting something sweet.
- Cruciferous vegetables: This includes broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, which all contain vitamins and fiber while also reducing risks of some cancers.
- Green tea, garlic, and ginger:These foods contain anti-inflammatory properties, which help with arthritis, diabetes, and auto-immune conditions. Green tea can also apparently help with weight management as well.
- Oatmeal: This dish can work wonders when doubled with a dollop of pea protein powder. The breakfast staple is filling while also containing soluble fiber, which promotes cholesterol management. You can also top oatmeal off with some Manuka honey, cinnamon powder, or berries.
- Oily fish: Fish like salmon, albacore tuna, and sardines are filled to the brim with omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to reduce inflammation.
In addition to choosing other anti-inflammatory foods like flaxseed, olive oil, and dark chocolate, reducing exposure to various chemicals through diet is key to decreasing your disease risks and increasing life expectancy. Just for starters, however, try adding one new anti-inflammatory food into your diet every week and changing some pro-inflammatory foods out as well.