With every passing year, scientists learn more about the role inflammation plays in aging well. Researchers believe high rates of inflammation in the body is linked to diseases ranging from multiple sclerosis to Lupus, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, depression, and diabetes. By reducing or eliminating inflammation, they argue that we can all lower our risk for developing these diseases.
Reducing inflammation can also play another important role: pain management. For seniors with arthritis, minimizing inflammation can provide relief from the pain and symptoms of the disease without resorting to medication that may have unpleasant side effects.
What can you do to prevent inflammation?
Researchers believe the answer might lie in nutrition. With thoughtful planning, you can avoid foods believed to cause inflammation and increase the amount of foods in your diet thought to help reduce inflammation.
Here are a few suggestions to help you get started:
- Leafy greens: Think beyond the salad bar when it comes to increasing your intake of leafy green vegetables. For example, throw a handful of fresh kale or chard into a bowl of soup right before serving it. If you are making a smoothie, add a little chopped spinach to it. You likely won’t notice a difference in the taste using either of these methods, and both will help you increase the amount of leafy greens in your daily diet.
- Blueberries: This tasty natural treat is rich in a strong anti-inflammatory called quercetin. It’s credited with health benefits that include reducing the symptoms of gout, decreasing the pain of arthritis, and lessening the severity of colds. Add blueberries to your morning cereal, afternoon fruit cup, frozen smoothies, or gluten-free muffins.
- Celery: This crunchy vegetable has gotten a bad reputation over the years. Many people believe it doesn’t offer any nutritional value at all. The truth is that celery contains an impressive combination of antioxidants, vitamins, and potassium. It’s a mix that helps fight inflammation, manage cholesterol, and prevent heart disease. Fortunately, celery is easy to chop up and add to soups, salads, appetizers, and dips.
- Pineapple: This popular citrus fruit contains vitamin C, vitamin B1, potassium, manganese, and a digestive enzyme called “bromelain.” They work together to help regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation. It’s a great way to add natural flavor and sweetness to homemade juice, chicken dishes, salsa, and salad.
- Walnuts: Nuts are another misunderstood food. Because a few types are high in fat, some people have been told to avoid them. But in most cases, they are high in healthy fats that aid in everything from digestion to hair growth. Walnuts in particular are a healthy dietary staple. Just one quarter of a cup of them contains all of the omega-3 fatty acid you need in a day. They help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and inflammation.
- Salmon: Another food rich in omega-3 fatty acid, along with vitamins B12 and D, is salmon. While it can be an acquired taste, research links it to lower rates of heart disease and cancer. Whether you incorporate it into your favorite chowder recipe or broil it with spring vegetables, the health benefits of salmon make it a food that’s worth experimenting with.
- Beets: This root vegetable is also easy to incorporate in to your diet. You’ll be rewarded with reduced pain and lower inflammation. The betalain in beets is what gives this vegetable its rich color and anti-inflammatory properties. You can roasted it in the oven, blend it up in to a dip to serve with pita chips or fresh vegetables, add it to smoothies, or slice it up to include in a salad.
- Flax seeds: These tiny little seeds pack a healthy punch. Just one cup contains over 38 grams of omega-3! Keep a bag of whole flax seeds in your refrigerator to add to smoothies, grind them up to put in soup, or sprinkle them on top of your favorite morning cereal.
- Bone broth: While bone broth is something of a trend right now, nutritionists having been recommending it for years. It has inflammation-fighting properties like glucosamine and collagen that promote heart health, better skin, hair growth, and joint health. You can buy it at your local health food store or make a big batch to freeze and serve at home.
Nutrition is an important focus of the dining program at Sunrise communities across the country. We invite you to join us for a complimentary meal at your local Sunrise to learn how our chefs combine good nutrition with great taste!
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