Chronic inflammation is now recognized as a major factor in virtually every age-related disease, including Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
And studies show that chronic inflammation can actually increase aging at a cellular level. Meaning that many of the inward and outward signs of aging—from aching joints to wrinkled skin—are due, in large part, to inflammation.
The good news for you is that you don’t have to buy into the “anti-aging” pills and potions pushed by the advertising industry. Because it’s easy to reduce chronic inflammation through simple lifestyle choices.
One of the most impactful changes you can make is to follow an anti-inflammatory eating plan, like the Mediterranean diet.
While virtually every fruit, vegetable, protein, and fat in the Mediterranean diet can reduce inflammation, there are six specific foods I think of as inflammation superstars.
The cornerstones of an anti-inflammatory diet
Eat these foods at least twice a week and you’ll soon look and feel younger—both inside and out.
1. Avocados, like many fruits, are a great source of inflammation-fighting antioxidants. But unlike other fruits, avocados also contain healthy, monounsaturated fats that fight inflammation.
A recent analysis of 129 published studies found that eating avocados reduces abdominal fat and metabolic syndrome, which are linked to chronic inflammation.1
One of my favorite ways to eat avocados is in guacamole. By adding lime and chili peppers to your guacamole, you can also experience the anti-inflammatory power of vitamin C. Hot peppers also contain inflammation-fighting capsaicin, and tomatoes contain a potent anti-inflammatory carotenoid (which I’ll tell you more about in a moment).
2. Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, and mustard greens, fight inflammation in several ways.
First, they’re rich in vitamin C and other anti-inflammatory antioxidants. They’re also high in fiber, which is associated with lower levels of C-reactive protein in the blood—a marker of chronic inflammation.
And remember, these vegetables have even more disease-fighting potential when eaten raw instead of cooked.
3. Wild-caught fatty fish, like salmon, mackerel, trout, and sardines, are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids that help fight chronic inflammation.
Fish and other seafood are also good sources of vitamin D, which helps suppress chronic inflammation. In fact, some research shows that vitamin D slows aging at the molecular level. And it’s been demonstrated in many studies that D reduces the risk of age-related diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
You can prepare fish in many ways. I like to steam it with scallions, garlic, and anti-inflammatory ginger (for more about ginger’s health properties, see page 7).
4. Legumes, like beans, chickpeas (garbanzos), lentils, lima beans, and peas, have been found to lower your risk of mortality.
One study of older Australian, Greek, Japanese, and Swedish subjects found that just half a cup of cooked legumes per day reduced the risk of death by an incredible 34 percent.2
Many of the longevity benefits of legumes are due to their ability to reduce inflammation. Beans are even higher in fiber than cruciferous vegetables, which makes them potent anti-inflammatories.
I like to add beans to a traditional English or Irish breakfast including eggs, bacon, and grilled tomatoes.
5. Olive oil is another plant-derived staple of the Mediterranean diet.
Like avocados, olive oil is loaded with healthy fats like oleic acid, which has been found to lower inflammation. Olive oil is also rich in antioxidants—particularly oleocanthal, which has been shown to reduce inflammation as well as ibuprofen, if not better.
Always keep good-quality olive oil handy in your kitchen. It will stay fresh at room temperature, in a dark cabinet or cupboard, for about three months.
6. Tomatoes are one of the only foods that contain high amounts of the carotenoid lycopene, as I helped discover back in the mid-1980s. Research shows lycopene can be helpful in fighting chronic inflammation.
Cooked tomatoes, like tomato sauce and tomato paste, contain higher amounts of lycopene (which I also discovered). And you’ll get even more anti-inflammatory benefits if you cook your tomatoes in olive oil.
Of course, these six foods are just a few of my natural approaches to reduce chronic inflammation and promote healthy aging.
For more tips, check out my Protocol For Eliminating Deadly Inflammation. Readers can order by calling 1-866-747-9421 and asking for order code EOV3V501.
My Cinco de Mayo “Superfoods” Guacamole and Salsa Picante
It couldn’t be easier or more delicious to get tremendous health benefits from two popular appetizers: Guacamole (an avocado-based dip), and salsa (a tomato-based dip). And today I’m going to share with you my go-to recipes for both.
You can prepare both to taste, using quantities based on the amount you want to make. But I like to whip up a fresh batch for each serving.
Guacamole—Keep it simple
Start with washing your avocado. Then cut the avocado in half, remove the stone, and scoop out the flesh, separating it from the skin. Add freshly squeezed lime juice. Mix by hand with a spoon or spatula until you create a creamy, smooth consistency.
Pro tip: Lime juice is a potent antioxidant, and will freshen the green flesh of any previously saved avocado, which can turn brown over time. And to help keep cut avocados fresh, get a specially designed storage container in the shape of a half-avocado to keep conveniently in your fridge.
Salsa—Spice it up
Start with two mid-sized, organic tomatoes and coarsely chop. Then take one-half (or one-quarter if you want less “tang”) red onion and finely chop. Add one bunch of fresh organic cilantro, finely chopped.
Now to spice it up, you can use anywhere from one to six small jalapeño peppers, depending on how much heat you want to add. (As I explained in a recent Daily Dispatch, you can also choose other peppers based on their “heat index.” Jalapeños are pretty mild, whereas red chili peppers turn up the heat.) Finally, mix all your ingredients together by hand using a spoon or spatula.
Both guacamole and salsa can be used as a garnish or a dip for organic corn tortilla chips. Remember, buying organic means the corn is free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and glyphosate contamination. You can also get blue corn tortillas, which don’t come from super-bred and genetically modified yellow corn varieties.
What are your favorite guacamole and salsa recipes? I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a comment on my Insiders’ Cures Facebook page or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are these top 5 inflammation culprits hiding in your kitchen cabinets?
The flip side of loading up on anti-inflammatory foods is avoiding the foods that boost inflammation. Here’s what research shows are the major dietary culprits behind chronic inflammation.
Sugar is the single worst ingredient you can eat, because it causes inflammation in multiple ways.
First of all, when sugar combines with protein or fat in your bloodstream, it produces compounds called advanced glycosylation end products (AGEs). Too many AGEs leads to oxidative stress and inflammation. (For example, Hemoglobin A1C is glycosylated hemoglobin, due to excess sugar.)
Sugar also messes with your gastrointestinal microbiome, which lowers your immunity and creates inflammation. More specifically, sugar increases gut permeability, which allows bacteria and toxins to leak out of your GI tract and into your bloodstream, ultimately producing inflammation, and other problems.
Finally, sugar can make you gain weight. And excess body fat leads to inflammation.
White flour in bread, pasta, desserts, and other foods is as bad for you as sugar.
This refined, processed grain is high in simple carbohydrates, which, like sugar, wreaks havoc on your GI microbiome. In particular, white flour can cause the growth of “bad” bacteria in your gut, which increases your risk of glucose intolerance, leading to inflammation.
The simple carbs in white flour also spike your blood sugar compared to the more complex carbs in fruits and whole grains. And high blood sugar is a main culprit in inflammation.
Fried foods are often high in trans fats, which have been shown in multiple studies to increase inflammation—not to mention many other diseases.
Fried foods are also full of AGEs—the same inflammatory compounds associated with sugar.
Vegetable oils are manufacturers’ solution for reducing trans fats in their packaged and processed “frankenfoods.” But while vegetable oils are made to sound healthy, they’re not.
Soy, corn, safflower, sunflower, canola, and palm oils are loaded with omega-6 fatty acids. While your body uses some omega-6s to produce hormones, regulate your metabolism, keep your bones healthy, and nourish your skin and hair, too many of these fatty acids can cause inflammation.
Artificial sweeteners have been found to alter the GI microbiome.
Like sugar and white flour, artificial sweeteners increase levels of the “bad” bacteria in your gut that lead to inflammation. And they decrease a type of “good,” probiotic bacteria that releases anti-inflammatory compounds.
1“Effects of Avocado (Persea americana) on Metabolic Syndrome: A Comprehensive Systematic Review.” Phytother Res. 2017 Jun;31(6):819-837.
2“Legumes: the most important dietary predictor of survival in older people of different ethnicities.” Asia Pacific J Clin Nutr 2004;13 (2):217-220.