Inflammation is a natural process of our body’s immune response that acts as a protective mechanism.
Without inflammation, our body would not be able to heal itself. During inflammation, specific pro-inflammatory hormones signal white blood cells to clear infection and damaged tissue.
When inflammation becomes uncontrolled, it damages the body. For example, when someone has Rheumatoid Arthritis, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks their joints causing inflammation and damage. Inflammation also plays a role in chronic diseases including heart disease, chronic pain, age-related diseases, memory loss, and autoimmune diseases.
Some foods can reduce inflammation. Brett Nance, Penn State Extension community health intern, explains how inflammation can be decreased by our food choices with this information from Penn State Extension.
Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, substances that inhibit damage to some types of cells, and consequently help reduce inflammation. The antioxidants, flavonoids which are commonly found in fruits and plant foods, protect the fluid portions of our cells. Of the fruits, berries are very high in flavonoids and are known to have beneficial effects on inflammation and cell damage. More specifically, anthocyanin pigments are the antioxidant that gives many fruits and vegetables their red, purple, and blue coloring. These pigments also give fruits and vegetables the ability to protect the body against chronic diseases. Some fruits that would fall into this specific category include blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, and tart cherries.
ORAC (oxygen radical absorptive capacity) is a way to measure antioxidant levels in fruits and vegetables. According to ORAC, berries have some of the highest antioxidant levels. So include berries in your diet to reduce inflammation in your body.
Berries can be eaten fresh or added to many foods including yogurt, granola, oatmeal, salads, and smoothies. Try this delicious smoothie recipe not only for good nutrition but also to reduce inflammation.
- ¾ cup unsweetened 100% orange or pineapple juice
- ½ cup fruit-flavored low-fat yogurt
- 1 cup frozen, unsweetened blueberries
- Blend all ingredients well in blender and drink!