By Becky Litwicki
There are many reasons we gain weight, one of which is inflammation. Though it's a natural, healthy response our bodies use for protection (think about when your ankle swells up after a sprain), it can sometimes become a chronic issue.
Many of the foods we eat on a regular basis increase levels of inflammation. Things like sugar, artificial sweeteners, refined grains, unhealthy fats, stress and too much sitting turn the entire body into a hot, swollen mess that retains fluid, and feels sick and run down. By substituting a few low-stress, high-nutrient superfoods into your diet, you'll be able to reduce irritation, shed excess fluid, increase energy, and feel slim and sexy for summer.
These are three go-to superfoods I use to keep my inflammation down:
1. Chia seeds
Why: Chia seeds absorb many times their own weight in water and are high in fiber, so you'll feel fuller, faster and stay satisfied longer. They're also a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids.
While a 2:1 or 3:1 balance of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids has shown to reduce inflammation, many Western diets are imbalanced at 15:1 or more. Ultimately, the Omega-3s in chia seeds can help offset imbalances and reduce inflammation.
How: Sprinkle them into smoothies, add them to salads or try making chia seed pudding.
2. Coconut oil
Why: Coconut oil is the darling food of the health world right now, and for good reason. Not only is it anti-inflammatory, it boosts your metabolism, helps balance hormones and is anti-microbial, all culprits of inflammation. In particular, virgin coconut oil that hasn't been treated with chemicals or high heat can actually stop the effects of chronic inflammation.
How: Cook with it, bake with it, sauté in it, add it to your smoothies.
3. Hemp seeds
Why: Hemp seeds are a great source of plant-based protein, and protein intake has shown to be helpful for curbing appetite, increasing feelings of satiety and reducing food intake later in the day. The seeds also have a perfect Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio.
How: Sprinkle them into smoothies, add them to salads, make your own hemp milk or mix up some hemp cilantro dip. Just be sure to avoid heating or over processing your hemp as it can be easily damaged.
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