5 Anti-Inflammatory Foods & Recipes To Boost Your Immune System

“Inflammation” is a term widely used, mostly because there are way more factors in our environment now that cause inflammation in our bodies than ever before, including highly processed foods, fast food, stress, and pollution. But also because inflammation can be the cause of the most common diseases in today’s society, including cancer, diabetes, obesity, autoimmune diseases and more.  However, even if you haven’t experienced any of those diseases, you may likely still have some acute or chronic inflammation in your body. If you ever get muscle pain or weakness, irregular digestion, consistent stomach issues or joint pain, amongst other symptoms, those may be caused by an inflammatory response within your system.1

So What Actually is Inflammation?

Inherently, inflammation actually is a good thing! It’s our bodies’ natural response mechanism to foreign items coming in. Our bodies instinctively send chemicals from our white blood cells to protect us from these foreign objects, which raises blood flow to that particular area of infection or injury. Sometimes these chemicals cause fluid to leak into our tissues, causing some discomfort.1 But when the inflammation doesn’t go away on its own, and we don’t provide our body with the nutrients and lifestyle remedies it needs to reduce inflammation, it can become chronic and last much longer than when the original injury or infection occurred. 

How Does Inflammation Affect the Immune System?

Well, inflammation is actually the immune system's natural response to invaders as described above. However, when we have inflammation in our body, but no disease or threat for our white blood cells to fight off, they might start attacking our healthy cells and organs leading to serious disease.2 This is why incorporating as many anti-inflammatory foods and practices into our daily routines is so important! We’re constantly bombarded with external, inflammatory objects, so the more we can avoid them and add in anti-inflammatory habits, the better for our bodies and minds. 

5 Foods To Fight Inflammation

These five foods are great for reducing inflammation in the body because of their high level of Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and/or vitamins, which are known to have anti-inflammatory properties.   
  1. Salmon 

Salmon is one of the best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, providing about 2.3 grams in a 3.5oz piece of salmon.3 We actually need these fatty acids for our bodies to function properly. This is also why “low fat” doesn’t always mean a food is healthier, but I digress. If you need a super simple salmon recipe, try out the one below:
  1. Preheat oven to 425. 
  2. Place salmon fillet on lined baking sheet. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and chile lime seasoning. 
  3. Slice one lemon and place slices on salmon. 
  4. Bake for 18-22 minutes, depending on how well done you like it. 
  5. Squeeze juice of a lemon when ready to serve
 
  1. Avocado 

Avocado also has a high amount of healthy fats along with Vitamin K, Vitamin C, potassium and tons of other anti-inflammatory nutrients.4 Being one of the fattiest plant foods available, it has tons of anti-inflammatory benefits and you can add it to pretty much anything! I love adding avocado to salads, sourdough toast with eggs, Buddha bowls - avocado is tasty on most foods or even on its own with some salt and pepper.  
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  1. Chia seeds

Chia seeds have become a popular superfood over the past few years as more people have discovered all of their amazing nutritional benefits. Chia seeds are also high in Omega-3 fatty acids and contain large amounts of fiber and protein. You can add these to your smoothies, salads and even make chia seed pudding! Below is a great recipe to try out and only takes a few minutes to prepare: 2 tablespoons Chia seeds ½ cup almond milk (or any other milk you prefer) 1 teaspoon honey  1/3 cup blueberries (or any other fruit you like) Combine all ingredients in a mason jar or glass tupperware. Let settle for 2-3 minutes and then mix again. Cover the container and put in the fridge overnight. It will be ready to eat the next morning!  
  1. Blueberries

Blueberries, you may not know, are a superfood in themselves! They contain tons of antioxidants and phytonutrients, including Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and potassium. They get their blue color from a certain type of flavonoids, which help to reduce inflammation and support your immune system.5 Blueberries are great to eat as a snack, add to salads or have at breakfast time in chia seed pudding or overnight oats! 
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  1. Broccoli 

Broccoli is one of my absolute favorite veggies! Not only does it taste delicious, but it has so many health benefits. Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower, contain large amounts of Vitamin K, which has been known to fight inflammation and may protect against certain types of cancer.5 A super simple way to add in broccoli to your routine is to roast it in the oven or air fry it as a side dish. Below is how I love to roast broccoli: Preheat oven to 425. Spread broccoli florets out on a lined baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Bake for 20 mins. That’s it!! And they come out so crispy and delish.

Food is Medicine 

These foods can help to fight off any lingering inflammation we all tend to have in our bodies and allow our immune system to do the hard work when we actually need it. They can also actually improve how our immune system functions so that if we get a cold or flu, our body can work at its optimal level. Try adding some of these foods into your routine and see how you feel! 
References: 1https://www.webmd.com/arthritis/about-inflammation, 2https://www.livescience.com/52344-inflammation.htm, 3https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-benefits-of-salmon#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2l, 4https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-proven-benefits-of-avocado#TOC_TITLE_HDR_4, 5https://www.geisinger.org/health-and-wellness/wellness-articles/2018/02/21/17/18/8-foods-that-reduce-inflammation

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