The word inflammation has a bad reputation. It seems to be associated with negative consequences like pain, swelling, disease, or perhaps a product of just general poor health. There are a couple of classifications of inflammation recognized in healthcare: acute and chronic inflammation, and there are some big differences between the two.
Acute inflammation is characterized by the healing of injured body tissue. Acute inflammation is short-term, lasting minutes to days, and is a result of injury, irritation, or infection. During recovery of this type of inflammatory process, signs like redness, swelling, heat, and soreness in the affected area might be apparent as damaged tissue is being addressed and new tissue is being synthesized. This is a normal physiologic response to the body’s exposure to physical stress and its subsequent necessary repair.
Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, as stated in this review in the British Journal of Nutrition, is an indicator of a failure to regulate homeostasis, thus contributing to the perpetuation and progression of disease. This is a result of a misfire in the body’s physiologic response when there is no real trigger, but inflammation is still activated. Most chronic inflammation is systemic (not localized to just one area of the body) and is mild or “low-grade.” Chronic inflammation can become the root of many diseases, including heart disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis.
One method of protection against inflammation is a nutrient-dense diet which includes an array of vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes (beans and peas), whole grains, and up to two servings a week of fish that supply omega-3 fats . Certain plant-based foods have been studied for their potential inflammatory-fighting benefits, including these top five anti-inflammatory fruits. Read on, and for more on how to eat healthy, don’t miss these 6 Best Eating Habits To Reduce Inflammation as You Age, Say Dietitians.
Cranberries don’t get nearly enough credit year-round. Instead, most cranberry intake is cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving or cranberry juice to defend against a urinary tract infection (UTI). Cranberries instead can be enjoyed frozen in a smoothie, dried in a trail mix, or fresh in a salad. Cranberries have a high content of bioactive compounds, which are associated with antioxidant activity. As discussed in a 2015 review by the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, one primary bioactive compound in cranberries is a flavonoid called quercetin. These flavonoids have been studied for their role in decreasing inflammation, inhibiting the buildup of fatty substances in the arteries, and for their anti-cancer effects.
Oranges, whether they be navel oranges or mandarins, contain hesperetin, a citrus flavonoid. Hesperetin offers protection against inflammation that can lead to neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and multiple sclerosis.
To learn even more about how much oranges may benefit health throughout our body, read Secret Side Effects of Eating Oranges, Says Science and One Major Effect of Eating Oranges, New Study Says.
Blueberries are a recognizable fruit probably making its way into your breakfast routine via oatmeal, yogurt, or muffins. Now there is even more reason to include blueberries regularly in your diet: its inflammatory-reducing function may decrease insulin resistance, a hallmark of developing type 2 diabetes. A 2018 review in Advances in Clinical and Experimental Medicine suspects this could be attributed to blueberry’s “anthocyanin” content and its ability to alter certain hormones associated with the body’s use of glucose.
Grapefruit, along with other fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges, is categorized as a citrus fruit. Naringin, a major compound found in tomatoes, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits, can suppress inflammatory reactions, as reported in a research article in Bioscience Reports in 2020. This occurs through naringin’s capability to reduce the effectiveness of pro-inflammatory “cytokines,” which are known to contribute to cell damage. Grapefruit also is an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin C, which are both key vitamins in immune function.
Strawberries are not only appreciated as a juicy, wholesome, summertime fruit but also a flavor that can make just about anything from desserts to beverages taste great. Keep up with consuming strawberries, but now armed with the knowledge that this fruit is exceptionally rich in a flavonoid called ellagic acid. Ellagic acid is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, and can also boost protection against cancer.
Molly Hembree, MS, RD, LD
Molly Hembree, MS, RD, LD, is a nationally recognized registered dietitian. Read more