In her new book, The Perfect Blend, Tess Masters serves up delicious, nutrient-dense, gluten-free and vegan dishes
Toxins barrage us in our food, water, air and elsewhere in our environments. Along with drugs, poor health, chronic disease, dietary deficiencies, lack of exercise, stress and other hazards of modern life, toxins throw our oxygen metabolism out of whack, prompting excessive, unhealthy inflammatory responses that promote disease. Strategic foods recalibrate our systems for healthy inflammatory responses critical to our built-in immune function.
Top foods for fighting inflammation
Gingerol, biochemical cousin of capsaicin (in peppers), gives ginger power to calm inflammation and relieve pain and swelling. This aromatic root stimulates the lymphatic system and sweats out toxins, particularly in the lungs, sinus passages and colon. Ginger settles the stomach; alleviates nausea, gas and bloating; repairs the intestines; and its antibiotic properties fight infection.
Curcumin, which gives turmeric a vibrant orange hue, promotes healthy inflammatory responses and relieves joint pain and swelling, making turmeric an arthritis ace. It also clears congestion, fires up fat metabolism, reduces gas and bloating, and inhibits abnormal cell growth. Since curcumin absorbs better paired with piperine in chiles and black pepper, add one of those and you’re golden.
Loaded with antioxidant disease-fighting glucosinolates, vitamins C and K and providing omega-3s in the bargain, Brussels sprouts help regulate inflammatory responses. The cutest of crucifers is a chemoprotective crusader as well, armed with a specific compound that prevents environmental, toxin-triggered changes to our DNA. With a host of alkaline minerals and fiber, this brilliant brassica regulates blood sugar and cholesterol, combats oxidative damage and aids digestion.
Provides more than 70 phenolic antioxidants, unique sulfur compounds (glucosinolates), beta-carotene (for vitamin A) and vitamin C, alkaline minerals, folate, B6, omega-3s and fiber. It also tops in vitamin K. All that makes bok choy anti-inflammatory superstars, bolstering resistance to infection, staving off oxidative damage, fostering healthy muscle and nerve function, building bones and blood, and boosting metabolism.
Highest of all nuts in omega-3s, bursting with antioxidant phytonutrients and rich in monounsaturated fats, walnuts contain L-arginine, which converts to nitric oxide, relaxing blood vessels and unclogging arteries. This heart-healthy hero fizzles free radicals and regulates blood pressure and cholesterol to keep the blood flowing freely! As their alkaline minerals neutralize acids, walnuts are sensational skin savers, too, repairing collagen and protecting cell integrity. One of the few food sources of melatonin, they calm the nervous system and aid sleep. With omega-3s, vitamin E, and folate, melatonin delivers neuroprotective properties, making walnuts brilliant brain food.
Full of fiber, alkalizing chlorophyll, antioxidant glucosinolates, vitamin K and omega-3s, collards amp up the anti-inflammatory agenda, binding bile acids, banishing bacteria and increasing enzyme activity for detox and digestion—while helping to oxygenate blood and enhance circulation. To maximize the magic, shred the greens and splash with lemon juice; this activates enzymes and cranks up
The triumvirate of essential fatty acids, lignans and mucilage fiber makes flaxseed a wellness wonder. Loaded with omega-3s, flax combats inflammation and boosts cellular cleansing and immune responses. Lignans are phytoestrogens that balance hormones, preventing breast and prostate cancers, reducing menopausal symptoms, easing PMS and increasing fertility. Mucilage, a water-soluble fiber,
Antioxidant punicalagins in pomegranate (juice and peel) fight free radicals. Packed with those and other potent phytonutrients, vitamins C and K, folate, alkalizing minerals and fiber, this superfruit is an antiviral agent, too, and boosts immunity.