It’s no surprise that the same foods generally considered bad for our health are also the ones that contribute to inflammation: soda, refined carbs, sweets, processed meats, red meat and excessive alcohol.

Your immune system attacks anything in your body that it recognizes as foreign. This process is called inflammation, and it is an important part of healing.

Acute inflammation helps the body rid itself of threatening invaders, for example bacteria when you have a wound or a sore throat. Sometimes inflammation in the body persists, day in and day out, for months or even years.

This chronic inflammation is dangerous to your health. Major diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and depression, have been linked to chronic inflammation.

Sometimes, the body begins to attack healthy tissue. This type of chronic inflammation can result in an autoimmune disease, such as psoriasis, fibromyalgia, inflammatory bowel disease or rheumatoid arthritis. There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases, and the National Institutes of Health estimates that more than 23 million Americans suffer with at least one.

Autoimmune diseases can be difficult to diagnose because symptoms can be vague and linked to aging. Family history, genetics, environment, exposure to toxins, poor diet and stress are all thought to contribute to chronic inflammation and autoimmune disorders.

One of the most powerful tools to combat inflammation doesn’t come from the pharmacy. Choosing the right foods can help reduce the risk of chronic inflammation. On the other hand, consistently picking the wrong foods can accelerate the inflammatory disease process.

It’s no surprise that the same foods generally considered bad for our health are also the ones that contribute to inflammation: soda, refined carbs, sweets, processed meats, red meat and excessive alcohol.

But, the good news is that there are several foods that are thought to be anti-inflammatory. Including several of these foods in your daily diet can help prevent chronic inflammation and improve symptoms associated with various autoimmune disorders. Following are some of the top foods recommended for fighting inflammation.

Fruit. All kinds of fruit contain antioxidants, vitamin C and beta-carotene, all of which combat the oxidative stress that can trigger inflammation. Fruit is also loaded with fiber, which helps generate beneficial gut bacteria. All fruits are beneficial, but berries and tart cherries are especially anti-inflammatory. Include fruit with every meal, and aim to get at least four servings daily.

Vegetables. True, potatoes are a vegetable. But, you need to eat a wide variety of colorful vegetables every day to reap benefits. Tomatoes have lycopene, a powerful carotenoid and phytonutrient. Leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, are rich in vitamin K, which helps combat infectious diseases. Alliums, such as garlic and onions, possess antioxidants that protect against cancer and heart disease. Cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broccoli, are rich in several carotenoids and contain sulfur compounds that help protect cells from damage. Double up on your usual amount of vegetables to help get the recommended five half-cup servings a day.

Nuts. High in vitamin E, fiber, protein and monounsaturated fats, nuts are a powerhouse of nutrition. Add a handful a day to your cereal or salad, or eat them as a snack. All nuts are good, but almonds and walnuts seem to be especially beneficial.

Olive oil. This monounsaturated fat is a potent antioxidant plus it contains oleocanthal, a compound that can lower inflammation and pain. Work two to three tablespoons into your daily diet either with cooking or in salad dressings.

Fatty fish. Rich in omega 3 fatty acids, tuna, salmon and other cold-water fish reduce two inflammatory proteins in the body — C-reactive protein and interleukin-6. Three to four ounces of fish twice a week is enough to do the trick.

Fiber. Whole grains boost the anti-inflammatory power in your diet by providing types of flavonoids and fiber not available in fruits and vegetables. Beans are also a wonderful source of fiber, high in protein and top the list of best sources for antioxidants.

Herbs and spices. All herbs and spices have some anti-inflammatory properties, but turmeric, ginger and cinnamon are especially potent.

In addition to an anti-inflammatory diet, having an active lifestyle and getting quality sleep play important roles in preventing chronic inflammation.