Food can be medicine, especially when concerning belly fat. Nutrition plays a critical role in helping achieve and maintain good health. Oftentimes, the root of any belly issues is inflammation. Stress, pathogens, and other factors can contribute to increased inflammation in the body. An essential step to avoiding abdominal obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and even certain cancers is choosing anti-inflammatory foods.
How inflammatory foods can harm the gut
Inflammation is a natural response against infection and injury, but chronic inflammation can increase the risks of certain diseases. Inflammation in the intestines and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is linked with an imbalance in the gut microbiota. Many foods, such as processed meats and refined sugars, can cause inflammation and affect the balance of harmful and friendly gut bacteria.
Steer clear of these inflammatory foods
The standard American diet is full of inflammatory foods, including refined carbohydrates, sugary drinks, red and processed meat, fried foods, and many snack foods. Inflammatory foods contain a high concentration of sugars, trans fats, and saturated fats. Alcohol consumption can also cause gut inflammation and is often consumed with the previously mentioned inflammatory foods, causing even more inflammation.
Fight against gut inflammation with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Berries contain vitamins, fiber, minerals, and anthocyanins, which have anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that berries can reduce inflammatory markers linked with heart disease.
Omega-3 fatty acids, such as eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are commonly found in many fish types, including salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines. DHA and EPA are metabolized in the body into resolvins and protectins, which have anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that EPA and DHA supplements may reduce the C-reactive protein (CRP) inflammatory marker.
Extra virgin olive oil
Healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil are packed with monounsaturated fats and are commonly used in the Mediterranean diet. Studies have shown that extra virgin olive oil can reduce CRP and other inflammatory markers. Extra virgin olive oil contains the oleocanthal antioxidant, which has an anti-inflammatory profile similar to ibuprofen.
Beyond boosting a person’s immune system and lowering cholesterol levels, tomatoes major dietary source of lycopene is a robust anti-inflammatory. For enhanced anti-inflammatory effects, cooking tomatoes in extra virgin olive oil can improve lycopene absorption compared to other oils.
Add a savory flavor to meals with minimum sodium, calories, or fat with mushrooms. Portobello, truffles, and shiitake mushrooms have high levels of copper, selenium, and B vitamins. Mushrooms also contain phenols and other antioxidants with anti-inflammatory effects. Lion’s mane mushroom has been shown to minimize low-grade inflammation from obesity. Raw mushrooms may provide greater inflammatory protection than cooked mushrooms.
Watch out for inflammation
Keeping inflammation under control can help maintain optimal health. Low inflammatory levels, when experienced frequently, may increase the risk of many diseases. Anti-inflammatory foods such as fish, peppers, mushrooms, dark chocolate, and more can provide inflammatory protection and lower the risk of gut problems and other diseases.