Contributed by Jennifer Dawson [caption id="attachment_3185" align="alignleft" width="200"] Photo by Polina Tankilevitch:[/caption]  

The word “inflammation” may conjure up images of a swollen toe or your cheeks after a wisdom tooth extraction, but there is a far more deadly type of inflammation that can often go unnoticed and it is the cause of 50% of all deaths worldwide. Chronic inflammation is the mechanism behind many diseases ranging from cancer to dementia, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. And it can be exacerbated by the foods we eat. While scientists have yet to define an ideal diet that is a guaranteed inflammation buster, many studies have been carried out on specific foods that have found to lower markers of inflammation in the body. And the good news is that you can take advantage of these benefits when consuming dehydrated foods. When choosing dehydrated foods for this purpose, prioritize berries, fruits with vivid colors (such as apricots and dark grapes), and dehydrated spinach. But you don't need to be too selective because dehydrated foods as a whole are packed with concentrated antioxidant goodness... and that is exactly what you need to lower inflammation and related diseases like diabetes.


What Foods Can Help You in the Battle Against Inflammation?

A 2018 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that consuming fruits and vegetables has a significant effect on inflammatory biomarkers. These biomarkers are essentially linked to a myriad of serious health issues and one of the main aims of preventing health is to identify nutritious that can reduce their prevalence. The review study (Banafshe et al. 2018) showed that fruit and vegetable intake decreased levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). This protein is made by the liver and it shoots up when there is inflammation in the body. In fact, this marker is used to check for the presence of inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. It can also indicate one’s heart attack risk. This same study also showed that fruits and vegetable consumption reduced the “tumor necrosis factor” (another substance in the body that causes inflammation).


Fruits and Vegetables That Help Curb Inflammation

Not all fruits and vegetables are alike when it comes to battling inflammation. Those that are particularly high in antioxidants, for instance, are particularly important to consume because antioxidant-rich foods help eliminate toxins from your cells. When your cells are not overburdened by trying to battle these toxins, they can express optimally as opposed to inflammatory. As reported by Harvard academics, some of the most potent foods that are known for their anti-inflammatory benefits include berries, apples, stone fruits, citrus fruits, avocados, and grapes, When it comes to vegetables, meanwhile, opt for greens like spinach and kale, broccoli, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, collards, and cabbage. As a rule, all fruits and vegetables wield health effects, so don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to the list above. In addition to fruits and vegetables, you can also keep inflammation low with foods like nuts like almonds and walnuts, fatty fish like tuna and salmon, and whole grains.


What About Dehydrated Foods?

The good news about dehydrated foods is that you won’t miss out on the inflammation-busting power of fruits and vegetables in their fresh state. The process of dehydration actually preserves the nutrients in produce and removes the content. The result is a bigger bang for your buck, as these foods are a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. What’s more, they have a longer shelf life than fresh produce, so having them in your cupboard can help you reduce food waste. Did you know that fresh produce loses much of its vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant content within a few days of refrigeration? What’s more, people in the US throw away around 120 billion pounds of food every year! Consider dehydrated foods as a great way to reduce the amount of food waste that ends up in landfills, and a magnificent way to do your share for the Planet.


Scientifically Proven Benefits

A myriad of studies has been published on the anti-inflammatory and other health benefits of dried produce. One 2023 study published in the journal Nutrients, for instance, showed that dried fruits are rich in phytochemicals (including phenolic compounds, phytoestrogens, and carotenoids) with “potent antioxidant capacities.” These compounds scavenge free radicals, alleviating the stress that causes tissue damage, aging, and other chronic diseases. Similar studies have also shown similar benefits from the consumption of vegetables.


If you love dehydrated foods, then know that they can play a key role in battling inflammation. Consume a wide array of dehydrated produce, making sure you consume both fruits and vegetables. Aim to include those that are known for their antioxidant benefits, including apples, berries, and grapes. Also make it a point to consume whole (instead of refined) foods and to avoid inflammatory foods like refined products and those containing trans fats and high levels of sugar.