There's a lot we know -- and don't know -- about inflammation, the body's unpleasant way of addressing injury and illness by puffing up. Eating too much sugar, saturated fat, alcohol, and processed meat can all cause chronic inflammation, which is a huge bummer, but that's the price of going out and enjoying life, right?! Just know that chronic inflammation increases the risk of type II diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson's disease. Yikes.
What medical professionals haven't quite figured out is the role food plays in the battle against inflammation -- but a group of super-smart scientists from the UK has made a serious breakthrough on this issue. They investigated 31 polyphenols (micronutrients from plants) to see whether or not they had the ability to slow inflammation. Through some serious testing, the researchers narrowed down five particular foods that aren't just tasty and generally nutritious, they also boast inflammation-inhibiting superpowers. The good news: you're probably already eating some of them.
Cubicle-bound co-workers have been asking delis to hold the onions on their lunch sandwiches since before open-plan workspaces became the norm, but the vegetable's anti-inflammatory properties might make it worth asking for an extra helping. Onions contain one of the most potent anti-inflammatory compounds: isorhamnetin. Still worried about onion breath? Nosh on almonds or fennel leaves instead, since they're both rich in the flavonoid.
It wards off cancer. It stops food from spoiling. It stains your fingers for days. And it tastes good. Turmeric might just be nature's miracle cure-all, adding anti-inflammatory properties to its increasingly lengthy list of health benefits. The Indian spice's power source is the same thing that gives it its distinctive golden hue: curcumin. If you've ever touched the yellow stuff, you can probably attest to its persistence, so put that power to work fighting inflammation.
The study also calls attention to resveratrol -- found in red, purple, and black grapes -- for its ability to inhibit the release of cytokine. Sadly, the researchers don't advise taking down as much red wine as you want in order to live forever, but you can't go wrong snacking on these fruits throughout the day. Scientists add that itadori tea (aka Japanese knotweed) also contains a high concentration of resveratrol.