I’ve always told myself that when my ankle swells, that's just my body attempting to heal itself. I'm not completely wrong: Inflammation—and the swelling, heat, pain and redness that comes with it—is our body’s first response to injury. However, sometimes this attempt to destroy the damaged tissue goes a little too far and our body starts attacking healthy tissue, too. That's where anti-inflammatory medications come in, preventing the negative consequences of inflammation. The only problem? According to Lauren Whitt, Ph.D., the director of Employee Wellness at University of Alabama at Birmingham, these drugs can go too far, and also dampen the healing properties of inflammation. She recommends a more balanced approach: By simply altering our diets to include more natural anti-inflammatory foods, Whitt says that we can prevent ever needing anti-inflammatory medication.
Whitt's go-to natural anti-inflammatory foods:
- Citrus fruits
- Dark and leafy greens
- Wild-caught salmon