It’s a natural immune response: when you cut yourself, immune cells go to work fixing the damage. Your skin swells up—inflames—and turns red. After a few days, it heals, and everything’s fine. But sometimes that healing doesn’t take place. The inflammation continues, steadily, chronically. This can happen inside your body, and has been linked in studies to heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. It’s called chronic inflammation, and it can affect your skin, too.
An inflammatory diet makes all these symptoms worse. The solution? Eat foods that calm inflammation and you’re more likely to enjoy clear, youthful looking skin! Here’s a list of foods recommended to reduce and manage inflammation:
The key here is healthy essential fatty acids. They’re good for the body and the skin. A 2004 study found that a diet high in walnuts helped lower C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a standard marker of inflammation associated with heart disease. Wild-caught salmon is another good source of these healthy fats, as are flaxseed, chia seeds, and anchovies.
This is a superfood when it comes to reducing inflammation. A 2013 study found that people who ate broccoli for just 10 days cut their inflammation levels in half! A 2014 study also found that women who ate the most cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cauliflower) had substantially less inflammation than those who ate the fewest. Broccoli has also been found to help repair DNA damage. Broccoli sprouts have similar benefits and work great on salads.
3, 4, 5. Yogurt, Kefir, Sauerkraut
The key here is probiotics. You can get them from any type of fermented food, including those listed here as well as pickles, miso, kombucha tea, fermented cheese, and more. These are stars when it comes to reducing inflammation. A 2009 study, for example, found that probiotic supplementation actually helped reduce the risk and severity of dermatitis. An earlier study also found that probiotics helped reduce inflammation in the intestine.
6. Hempseed oil
We’re talking about healing fatty acids again, so you can add avocado oil, coconut oil, and olive oil to this list. They all help tame inflammation, and they’re great for applying topically to skin, as well! A 2010 study found that hempseed had an excellent content of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and helped tame inflammation and reduce risk of heart disease.
7. Tart cherries
Tart cherry juice is often recommended as a post-workout drink because of its ability to calm inflammation and reduce muscle pain. A 2012 study found that tart cherries helped reduce chronic inflammation, especially for those experiencing joint pain and arthritis. In that study, the researchers noted that tart cherries have the “highest anti-inflammatory content of any food.”
8, 9. Onions and Garlic
Add these to your meals to enjoy the anti-inflammatory power. A 2011 study found that both not only reduced inflammation in the blood vessels (linked with reducing heart disease), but also reduced oxidative stress. Both of these have also shown anti-inflammatory effects against arthritis. Similar foods include leeks, shallots, chives, and scallions.
If you’re going to use a spice, use curry! Turmeric is a key ingredient, and it contains a compound called curcumin that provides a number of health benefits. Preliminary trials have found that it has anti-inflammatory effects in humans, and it may also be protective against Alzheimer’s disease and digestive health. I’ve added turmeric in my exclusive Tri-Rescue Complex to tame inflammation and encourage healing for the skin.
Originally published August 27, 2015.
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Dr. Frank Lipman, MD, is an integrative medicine specialist practicing at his Eleven Eleven Wellness Center. Only the best cosmetic doctors, skincare gurus, nutritionists, fitness and wellness professionals make it into our book. Read client reviews, book sessions, and get expert advice.