Inflammation happens to all of us. It can happen acutely, when you’re sick or dealing with an injury. Or it can occur chronically, over a long period of time. Either way, inflammation is your body’s natural response to heal.
Although inflammation in general is normal, chronic inflammation can take a serious toll on your health. In fact, diseases associated with chronic inflammation are the leading causes of death in the world.
The concern for inflammation and how it harms the body has been growing recently, leading health experts to strongly recommend a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods. Some of these foods include things like leafy greens, olive oil, fruits, veggies and fatty fish.
However, there are some other inflammation-fighting foods that may surprise you.
For instance, pumpkin seed protein. In this article, we’ll go into detail about this superfood and a few others, and ways you can get more of them.
Any time the cells in your body become stressed or damaged, your body sends extra blood, antibodies and other chemicals to the affected area. This causes inflammation.
Some forms of inflammation, usually in acute cases, are obvious. When you have a fever for example. Or, when you have an infected cut. The area becomes red, swollen and hot, which are all symptoms of inflammation. It means the body is working to heal.
However, chronic inflammation isn’t so obvious. It’s usually caused by things like:
- Untreated infection or injury
- Prolonged exposure to irritants like chemicals or mold
- Autoimmune disorders
- Other lifestyle factors like obesity, smoking, alcohol use, chronic stress, irregular sleep and poor diet.
Symptoms of chronic inflammation include:
- Chronic pain
- Depression and anxiety
- Frequent illness
- Digestive issues
The longer that chronic inflammation brews in your body, the more damage it causes. It wreaks havoc at a cellular level and damages essential organs. Some diseases associated with chronic inflammation include:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Alzheimer’s DIsease
Anti-inflammatory diets, like the Mediterranean diet, have taken center stage for preventing and combating chronic disease. This diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and fish.
Inflammatory foods to avoid include dairy, red meat, refined sugar, trans fats, certain vegetable oils, and excessive alcohol. Not only do these foods feed inflammation, but they also contribute to obesity, which is another risk factor.
Anti-inflammatory foods are rich in antioxidants and certain vitamins and minerals that reduce inflammation and therefore have a protective effect against disease. Even if you struggle to stick with the diet as a whole, you can benefit from incorporating some specific anti-inflammatory foods.
In fact, it’s surprisingly simple to add more anti-inflammatory foods to your diet with seeds.
Pumpkin seeds are nutritional powerhouses. Not only are they rich in protein, but they also have strong anti-inflammatory properties. They provide:
Antioxidants – Pumpkin seeds are packed with carotenoids and vitamin E, which work against inflammation and protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals. Zinc also works as an antioxidant.
Magnesium – Pumpkin seeds are one of the best sources of magnesium out there. Low magnesium has been associated with several diseases like type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and cardiovascular disease. However, magnesium intake in the US is commonly lower than recommended.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Pumpkin seeds are particularly good sources of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), which has been shown to decrease inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein (CRP).
Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E, which works as an antioxidant to fight inflammation. They’re also a good source of magnesium.
One study found that eating sunflower seeds in particular multiple times per week was associated with reduced levels of CRP.
Most of us avoid watermelon seeds, but they’re actually extremely healthy! Like pumpkin and sunflower seeds, watermelon seeds are a great source of magnesium, zinc and healthy fats.
Chia seeds are packed with antioxidants, magnesium, and ALA. They’re also rich in fiber, which can help with weight loss and therefore decrease inflammation.
It might be easier than you think to add some of all of these seeds to your diet. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are great on salads, adding a satisfying crunch and flavor. Both of these seeds are also delicious as a snack on their own when they’re salted and roasted. You can roast watermelon seeds too.
Chia seeds are practically unnoticeable in oatmeal, baked goods and smoothies. They gelatinize when they’re combined with liquid, so they’re commonly used to make chia pudding and jam.
The most convenient way to soak of the benefits of these anti-inflammatory seeds is with a seed protein powder featuring all four.
Two scoops of Naked Seed gives you all of the anti-inflammatory benefits these seeds have to offer, plus 20 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.
Chronic inflammation is dangerous for your long term health, leading to serious disease. However, a healthy diet can prevent and reduce inflammation.
One easy way to increase anti-inflammatory foods in your diet is to incorporate seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, watermelon, and chia seeds.
Naked Seed combines all of these powerful seeds into one convenient powder, so you can boost your protein intake and fight inflammation all at once.