7 Powerful Foods That Eliminate Inflammation In Your Joints, Brain, and Skin (And foods you should avoid!)

Researchers are only now beginning to fully understand the role of inflammation in the body, and with that role of foods on inflammation. Fortunately, for the many of you who may have problems with inflammation, we're here with tips that can help!

Research suggests that eating the wrong kinds of foods can cause chronic inflammation. Over time, chronic inflammation can lead to organ and tissue degeneration, toxin build up, and worse - damaging our intestines, heart, kidneys, pancreas, joints, skin, and bones.

“A diet that’s high in inflammatory foods causes a constant, low-grade inflammation in the body,” says Elson Haas, MD, author of The False Fat Diet (Ballantine Books, 2001). “If the immune system is preoccupied fighting this constant inflammation, it’s not as able to help protect the body against other things that can pop up, such as abnormal cells in breast or prostate tissue.” According to Haas, “modern diseases are merely symptoms of the underlying issue of inflammation, which is just the body trying to heal itself; the question is, ‘from what?’”

According to Barbara Rowe, MPH, RD, author of Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Health (Fair Winds Press, 2008), modern convenience foods actually confuse our bodies. “Since these foods are so new to the human diet—most having been introduced only in the last 60 to 70 years—inflammation is a natural immune response to deal with them.”

But even those of us who steer clear of junk food and unhealthy fats may still need to pay attention to the ratio of good fats we eat. By now, we’ve all heard of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats are the most underconsumed in the American diet, while omega-6s predominate—by a lot. In fact, thanks to all of the packaged convenience foods we eat—even the organic and all-natural varieties—most of us get about a 30-to-1 ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s. Since omega-6s are pro-inflammatory, too much of them can cause low-grade inflammation in the body. “This inflammation prompts the oxidizing of the LDL, or bad cholesterol, which then makes it more sticky and more likely to adhere to the artery walls,” which leads to heart disease, says Haas. Adding omega-3s helps counteract the damage omega-6s do and may prevent that oxidation of LDL cholesterol.

Inflammation can also be caused by an immune reaction or allergy to a number of different foods. “You might be eating healthy foods, but if your body has an allergic reaction to one of these, an immune response will trigger inflammation—usually signaled by gas, bloating, and pain,” says Haas. For example, some dietitians think the nightshade family of plants—potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant—may actually make inflammation worse. These veggies contain an alkaloid called solanine that can trigger joint pain in some people, especially those with arthritis. If you’ve experienced this sort of pain, don’t eat these vegetables for a few weeks to see if your symptoms improve.

Fortunately, we all have access to the perfect antidote for inflammation: anti-inflammatory foods. These foods not only reduce chronic inflammation in the body, they also provide the essential building blocks for reaching and maintaining a healthy weight and having more energy. Try adding one or more of the following foods to your diet:


  1. Hot Peppers. The capsaicin found in cayenne, serrano, jalapeƱo, and all hot chilis serves as a natural alternative to anti-inflammatory drugs. Capsaicin works to inhibit the COX-2 enzyme, a known cause of inflammation in arthritis and other inflammatory diseases in the body.
  2. Apples and Onions. These contain quercetin, a natural histamine inhibitor that helps the body fight environmental allergies—a cause of inflammation. Keep in mind that quercetin is found in the skin of apples, so buy organic and eat them whole.
  3. Pineapple. This sweet tropical fruit contains an anti-inflammatory compound called bromelain, which contains enzymes that have been proven to suppress inflammation and pain in the body by minimizing swelling. Bromelain loses its anti-inflammatory value when heated, so go for fresh, whole pineapple instead of the heat-processed canned variety.
  4. Dark, Leafy Green Vegetables. These good-for-everything veggies contain alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 that has similar anti-inflammatory benefits as the omega-3s found in fish.
  5. Flax seeds, Walnuts, Pumpkin seeds. Like dark, leafy greens, these nuts and seeds also contain all-important omega-3s. Choose raw nuts, not toasted, because roasting temperatures destroy omega-3s. For a “toasted” nut taste, soak nuts in water overnight and use a dehydrator to give them a crunchy bite.
  6. Oily, Cold-Water Fish. Salmon, mackerel, and sardines are all packed with omega-3s, which reduce the production of pro-inflammatory hormones in the body. Remember to choose wild Pacific or Alaskan salmon, or organically and sustainably farm-raised varieties, which have been shown to have the lowest mercury levels. Also keep in mind that most of the omega-3 fats in these fish are in the “brown fat” near the skin. Scrape it onto your fork, or make sure to eat the whole fish, skin and all. Gentle poaching and quick searing are good cooking methods for keeping omega-3s intact.
  7. Olives And Olive Oil. The oleic acid in olives and olive oil contain omega-9 fatty acids, which help omega-3s do their anti-inflammatory job. Skip over “light” olive oil, and go for strong, green, and unrefined varieties. And keep in mind that raw olive oil has the most anti-inflammatory properties; heating can lessen its nutritional benefits.


Foods You Should Avoid:


  • Bagels
  • Baked Goods
  • Pastries
  • Fried Foods
  • Margarine
  • Sugar
  • Snack Foods
  • Soda
  • Jams
  • Hard Cheeses