Research Links Inflammation To Mental Health
While inflammation isn’t known to directly cause anxiety or any other mental health conditions, it can create changes in brain and body functioning that can lead to the development of an array of psychiatric conditions.
As such, scientists and doctors are increasingly concerned about chronic inflammation’s effects on anxiety and other mental health concerns.
What Is Inflammation?
In the most basic terms, inflammation is your immune system’s response to an irritant. In such instances, your body releases substances known as inflammatory mediators that cause your small blood vessels to dilate to get more blood to the affected area(s). Chronic conditions commonly associated with inflammation include arthritis, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and bowel disease.
The Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods
With substantial research linking anxiety and inflammation, it’s important to do what you can to reduce the latter—and, thankfully, there are things you can do, such as eating foods that are known to reduce inflammation. To help, the following list contains foods that are among the top choices for implementing this strategy:
Nuts – almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts are loaded with fiber, calcium, magnesium, zinc, Vitamin E, and Omega-3 fats—which all have anti-inflammatory effects.
Fatty fish – these fish, including salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel, are high in Omega-3 fatty acids as well.
Berries – these fruits contain polyphenol compounds and antioxidants, both of which are linked to anti-inflammatory effects.
Dark, leafy greens – the high vitamin K content in vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, collard greens, green leaf lettuce, kale, and spinach helps to prevent against inflammatory diseases.
Garlic, onions, and leeks – these flavor powerhouses contain an anti-inflammatory compound that helps fight inflammation.
Tea – studies have linked anti-inflammatory effects to both green tea and black tea, with green tea having a stronger positive effect.
Olive oil – the antioxidants in EVOO help it to reduce inflammation, earning it a spot on our list.
Probiotics – adding this source of “good bacteria” to your diet may lower levels of inflammation in the body.
Foods That Worsen Inflammation
Of course, there are many foods that can promote or worsen inflammation. Be sure to avoid over-consumption of these:
- Red or processed meat
- Trans fat
- Vegetable or seed oil
- Refined grains (stick to whole grains instead)
Remember, inflammation isn’t always bad. When your body is healthy and nutritionally balanced, the acute inflammatory process fights infections and promotes the healing process. But at its worst, it contributes to a long list of physical—and mental—disorders.
At The Pickled Beet, we understand that our busy lives can make it difficult or even impossible to shop for and prepare healthy dishes focused on anti-inflammatory ingredients. But personalized meal plans are exactly what we specialize in. We work with you to design menus that incorporate fresh, organic produce and flavorful herbs and spices to create delicious, varied, and satisfying meals for you and your family. Contact us for a free consultation.