An anti-inflammatory diet  is thought to help reduce the risk of diseases that are associated with chronic inflammation. The typical anti-inflammatory diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats.  
Inflammation is our body's normal response to infection, disease, and injury. It is part of the body's healing process, however if inflammation does not subside, it can contribute to health problems. An anti-inflammatory diet may help lower markers of inflammation in your body and may reduce your risk of  diseases associated with chronic inflammation.

Here are some guidelines you can follow to promote  an anti-inflammatory diet: 

  • Eat at least five servings of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables daily.
  • Replace red meat with lean poultry, fish, beans, and lentils.
  • Substitute butter and  margarine  with healthy fats like olive oil.
  • Reduce your intake of refined grains like white bread and pastries and increase your intake of fiber-rich whole grains like oats, quinoa, or brown rice.
  • Utilize anti-inflammatory herbs in cooking such as  turmeric, garlic and  ginger.
  • Instead of  frying your food—opt for baking, air frying or steaming it.

Benefits of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Certain foods which are rich in saturated fats, trans fats and refined sugar are known to contribute to inflammation in the body. An anti-inflammatory diet may help protect against various chronic conditions including:

  • Arthritis
  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Dementia 

Foods to Include

Increasing intake of foods rich in antioxidants helps to fight free radicals which cause long-term damage to our cells and increase inflammation in our body. Foods that are high in antioxidants include:

  • Apples
  • Artichokes
  • Avocados
  • Beans (such as red beans and black beans)
  • Berries (such as blueberries and blackberries)
  • Broccoli
  • Cherries
  • Dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
  • Dark green leafy vegetables (such as kale and spinach)
  • Eggs
  • Grapes 
  • Herbs and spices (like garlic, ginger and turmeric)
  • Green tea
  • Mushrooms 
  • Nuts (such as walnuts and almonds)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Peppers
  • Probiotic and prebiotic fermented foods (yogurt, kimchi) 
  • Whole grains

Omega-3 fatty acids are 'good fats' that may help protect against heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and other conditions. Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids include:

  • Flaxseed
  • Fish (such as salmon, herring, sardines, and anchovies)
  • Omega-3-fortified foods (such as  eggs and milk)
  • Walnuts
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Foods to Avoid

Foods that increase inflammation include those that are high in omega-6 fatty acids. Although fats are important to bone health and brain function, as well as metabolism, eating too many omega-6 fatty acids can actually increase inflammation.

Foods that are high in omega-6 fatty acids include:

  • Alcohol
  • Full-fat dairy products (such as milk, cheese, butter, and ice cream)
  • Margarine
  • Red and processed meat
  • Refined carbs (such white bread and cereals) 
  • Processed foods 
  • Fried foods 
  • Trans fats 

Food with a high glycemic index (GI)(opens in a new tab) like sugary drinks, desserts and refined grains that raise your blood glucose (sugar) level too much and too fast. To help control inflammation, avoid sugary drinks, white bread, desserts, and processed foods. Instead, eat low-GI(opens in a new tab) foods like chicken, fish, whole grains, leafy greens, and non-starchy vegetables(opens in a new tab).

Types of Anti-Inflammatory Diets

There is no single set eating plan for the anti-inflammatory diet. There are several popular diets that may have some anti-inflammatory benefits:

  • DASH Diet: The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet can help people avoid foods that are high in salt and could have a negative effect on their health, especially their blood pressure. However, the general guidelines of the diet make it an anti-inflammatory eating plan since it emphasizes fresh, whole foods and avoids processed foods. 
  • Mediterranean Diet: This diet can help curb the inflammation caused by arthritis. Fish, nuts, beans, fruits, vegetables, and olive oil have all been found to be beneficial in maintaining healthy joints.

​​​​​​​More Ways to Reduce Inflammation

There are other things you can do besides changing your diet to help prevent inflammation, such as:15

  • Exercising regularly
  • Reducing stress
  • Getting to and maintaining a weight that supports your health
  • Avoiding substances like alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs
  • Making quality sleep a priority
  • Working with your provider to manage chronic health conditions

An anti-inflammatory diet is an eating plan that is thought to reduce the risk of certain diseases that are linked to chronic inflammation in the body, such as heart disease, arthritis, COPD, and cancer. On this kind of diet, you’ll focus on eating foods that are rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, as they may help reduce inflammation. You’ll also work on limiting food that can increase inflammation, such as high-glycemic-index foods and those rich in omega-6 fatty acids.

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If you are experiencing chronic inflammation and are seeking a comprehensive treatment plan, contact Dr. Veena Nayak, Board Certified Rheumatologist at Southland Rheumatology Center. We will complete a thorough clinical evaluation and diagnostic testing to assess your medical condition, and utilize an integrative treatment approach including an anti-inflammatory diet regimen targeted to treat the underlying condition.

Please click here to schedule an appointment or call us at (708) 283-2600 to inquire further.

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