When the process of inflammation works as intended, it is a very beneficial thing. For example, inflammation at the site of an injury means that the body is making sure the area has a full supply of fresh blood, nutrients and white bloods cells so that the process of healing can begin.
However, the goal is to keep inflammation in check. When individuals suffer from chronic inflammation, this is associated with the increased risk of many diseases including type 2 diabetes, asthma, and certain cancers. Therefore, it is important for human health to find ways to prevent/treat inflammation before it turns into a chronic disease.
Here are some foods that when consumed regularly can offer us powerful anti-inflammatory protection:
1. Rose Hip:
Researchers have shown that rose hip has powerful anti-inflammatory activity. It has even been reported that its effects are similar to anti-inflammatory medications including indomethacin, a drug used to reduce pain, fever, stiffness and swelling from inflammation. How does it do this? The anti-inflammatory actions of rosehip have been attributed to the high level of a compound in rose hip called galactolipids. These special plant compounds have successfully shown anti-inflammatory and even anti-tumour activity, both in human studies and in vivo (a laboratory setting). Rose hip powder has been successfully used in treating patients with osteoarthritis, with improvements seen in both pain levels and joint movement.
When we compare some of the side effects of using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and aspirin with rosehip, rose hip provides a therapeutic benefit without the risk of side effects that some medications can cause (4).
2. Hawthorn Berry:
Hawthorn Berry has been clinically proven to help improve cardiovascular health, blood pressure, chest pain (angina), and high cholesterol levels. Plus, its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities make it a good choice to improve overall wellbeing and quality of life.
In a 2016 study that focused on liver disease, hawthorn berry extract significantly reduced levels of inflammatory compounds with researchers attributing this to unique compounds in hawthorn berry called polyphenols (2.) Another study in 2008, tested the free-radical-scavenging, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial effects of a hawthorn berry extract. They found that hawthorn berry’s antioxidant properties help to protect the body from inflammation and even provide antimicrobial benefits to the gastrointestinal system. Other studies have also shown that hawthorn berry reduces inflammation enough to also significantly lessen the symptoms of asthma (3).
3. Goji Berries:
Research tells us that increasing your intake of antioxidants reduces inflammation and therefore helps to protect the body against many chronic conditions. Like hawthorn berries, goji berries are one of the richest known sources of phenolic compounds, plant chemicals that have a very high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacity. Phenolic compounds have been hailed by some researchers as the natural alternative in inflammation treatment.
Goji berries may also enhance the immune system and boost feelings of well-being. According to a 30-day study in 60 older adults, consuming just 120 mL of goji berry juice daily raised levels of immune cells and improved feelings of general well-being (5). In another 3-month study of 150 older adults who were monitored after receiving the influenza vaccine, goji berry supplementation improved the immune response post-vaccination (6).
Shiitake are rich in bioactive compounds called polysaccharides, these include lentinans and other beta-glucans. These special compounds protect the body against cell damage, help strengthen the immune system, and boost white blood cell production for fighting off microbes. Another benefit of polysaccharides is that they also have strong anti-inflammatory properties.
A study in 2015 showed that when researchers gave people just two dried shiitake daily, their immune markers improved and their inflammation levels dropped after only one month (8). The inflammation and immune effects are attributed to one or more of the polysaccharides in shiitake mushrooms (11).
5. Kakadu Plum:
This plum is already recognised for having the highest recorded natural amount of vitamin C of any food in the world. In fact, 100 grams of Kakadu Plum provides well over 3,000% of your daily requirement of vitamin C. The antioxidant benefits from vitamin C help to get rid of free radicals that can harm cells and tissues, which also means there are fewer triggers for inflammation. Because of their incredibly high vitamin C levels, there is no shortage of antioxidant effect in the Kakadu plum.
Studies have found that Kakadu plums also contain exceptional levels of oleic acid, a fatty acid with anti-inflammatory activity. It is this strong anti-inflammatory effect that has also made Kakadu plum interesting to researchers attempting to prevent Alzheimer's Disease, a disease that is also linked to higher levels of inflammation.
1. Chrubasik C, Roufogalis BD, Müller-Ladner U, et al, (2018). A systematic review on the Rosa canina effect and efficacy profiles. Phytother Res;22:725–33.
3. Shin IS, Lee MY, Lim HS, Ha H, Seo CS, Kim JC, Shin HK, (2012). An extract of Crataegus pinnatifida fruit attenuates airway inflammation by modulation of matrix metalloproteinase-9 in ovalbumin induced asthma. PLoS One;7(9):e45734.
4. Cohen M, (2012). Rosehip; An evidence based herbal medicine for inflammation and arthritis, AFP; 41;7:495-498.
5. Amagase H, Sun B, Nance DM, (2009). Immunomodulatory effects of a standardized Lycium barbarum fruit juice in Chinese older healthy human subjects. J Med Food;12(5):1159-65.
6. Vidal K, Bucheli P, Gao Q, Moulin J, Shen LS, Wang J, Blum S, Benyacoub J, (2012). Immunomodulatory effects of dietary supplementation with a milk-based wolfberry formulation in healthy elderly: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Rejuvenation Res.15(1):89-97.
7. Bucheli P, Vidal K, Shen L, Gu Z, Zhang C, Miller LE, Wang J, (2011). Goji berry effects on macular characteristics and plasma antioxidant levels. Optom Vis Sci. 2011 Feb;88(2):257-62.
8. Dai X, Stanilka JM, Rowe CA, Esteves EA, Nieves C Jr, Spaiser SJ, Christman MC, Langkamp-Henken B, Percival SS. Consuming Lentinula edodes (Shiitake) Mushrooms Daily Improves Human Immunity: A Randomized Dietary Intervention in Healthy Young Adults. J Am Coll Nutr. 2015;34(6):478-87
9. Yang, Hyun et al. “Lentinus edodes promotes fat removal in hypercholesterolemic mice.” Experimental and therapeutic medicine vol. 6,6 (2013): 1409-1413.
10. Eva Guillamón, Ana García-Lafuente, Miguel Lozano, Matilde D´Arrigo, Mauricio A. Rostagno, Ana Villares, José Alfredo Martínez, (2010). Edible mushrooms: Role in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases,Fitoterapia, Volume 81;7, Pages 715-723,
11. Tadić VM, Dobrić S, Marković GM, Dordević SM, Arsić IA, Menković NR, Stević T, (2008). Anti-inflammatory, gastroprotective, free-radical-scavenging, and antimicrobial activities of hawthorn berries ethanol extract. J Agric Food Chem; 10;56(17):7700-9.