While most people have a general sense of the foods they should avoid to promote their long-term health – namely, anything brimming with sodium or saturated fat – they may not be as familiar with the items that can actively reduce their risk of contracting certain widespread medical issues. Recently, researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) sought to address this disconnect, with a specific focus on foods with natural anti-inflammatory properties.
Why inflammation? Because, as the university's Employee Wellness director and adjunct professor Lauren Whitt, Ph.D, explains, though swelling is a natural part of the body's reaction to toxic and potentially harmful material, "the trouble with inflammation occurs when the defense system gets out of control and begins to destroy healthy tissue, causing more damage than the original issue."
According to a UAB press release that has been picked up by news sources around the world, Whitt and her team singled out citrus fruits, tomatoes and leafy greens as a few foods that can reduce the risk of chronic inflammation if consumed regularly. The scientists also recommended salmon, as the same omega-3 fatty acids that make this fish a brain enhancer also help keep swelling in check.
And, though not listed in the UAB study, another naturally occurring compound with documented anti-inflammatory abilities is curcumin – the bioactive ingredient in turmeric that lends the spice its handsome golden hue. Studies have shown that taking curcumin supplements can potentially ease the painful swelling that characterizes rheumatoid arthritis. Plus, it also provides essential nutrition for the brain that may be harnessed to combat Alzheimer's disease and other afflictions.
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