An anti-inflammatory diet consists of nutrient-dense foods that are rich in antioxidants. It possesses a healthy balance of carbs, protein, and fat at each course of the meal.
Inflammation is your body’s natural process of healing and defending itself from illness, injury, or infection.
When you have an infection, wound, or tissue damage, your body increases its production of immune cells, white blood cells, and components named cytokines as part of its inflammatory response.
As a result, you experience redness, pain, swelling, and heat. It is a part of your body’s natural healing process.
However, inflammation is harmful when it becomes chronic. It can also lead to various health problems such as diabetes, heart problems, and cancer.
It’s important to treat chronic inflammation as soon as possible. While on medication, adopting an anti-inflammatory diet may help as well.
Continue reading to explore more about an anti-inflammatory diet, what to eat and what not, and a change in lifestyle that may help you get rid of chronic inflammation.
Anti-Inflammatory Diet: What Does The Research Say?
Free radicals occur as a natural part of your metabolism. But, they can lead to chronic inflammation if they are not held in check. Antioxidants can fight these free radicals and reduce inflammation in your body.
One of the most popular anti-inflammatory diets is the Mediterranean diet. It has been scientifically proved to reduce inflammatory markers, such as IL-6 and CRP.
According to a study published in 2014, the Mediterranean diet showed a protective effect against heart disease due to inflammation.
In a study published in the Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews, 1514 men (between the age 17 and 87) and 1528 women (between the age 18 and 89) participated in the ATTICA study.
After 10 years follow up, the results show the Mediterranean diet could act as primary prevention of diabetes by minimizing inflammation and stimulating antioxidant capacity.
A low-carb diet can also work as an anti-inflammatory diet, particularly for those who are overweight and have metabolic conditions.
Research conducted in the Departments of Kinesiology at the University of Connecticut shows a restriction in dietary carbohydrate could improve blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, and reduce inflammatory biomarkers.
Another clinical trial published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism reports a low-carbohydrate diet could decrease inflammation among women with metabolic syndrome.
In addition, your body will show better anti-inflammatory activities if you are on a vegetarian diet.
30 vegetarians participated in a clinical trial. The result shows that long-term vegetarians have improved the antioxidant status and lower risk of coronary heart disease compared to healthy omnivores.
Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Foods to Eat & Avoid
If you are suffering from chronic inflammation, you must choose a balanced diet that is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods. Besides, you must avoid processed and canned food to reduce inflammation.
Foods You Need to Eat:
- Vegetables: Kale, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflowers, broccoli, etc.
- Fruits: Cherries, grapes, and some other deep-colored berries. Some high-fat fruits like olive and avocado also help reduce inflammation.
- Whole Grain: Brown rice, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, etc.
- Healthy Fats: Coconut oil and olive oil.
- Nuts: Walnuts, almonds, and other nuts.
- Fish: Salmon, tuna, sardines, anchovies and some other fatty fishes that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Peppers: Chili peppers and bell peppers.
- Beverage: Green tea, red wine. The recommended doses of red wine are up to 10 ounces per day for men and 5 ounces per day for women.
- Herbs and Spices: Turmeric, cinnamon, fenugreek, etc.
- Others: Dark chocolate, foods rich in dietary fiber and vitamin K.
Foods You Need to Avoid:
- Refined Carbs: White pasta, bread, rice, etc.
- Beverages: Sugary drinks, canned soda, etc.
- Desserts: Candy, ice cream, cakes, and cookies.
- Processed meat: sausages, hot dogs, bologna, etc.
- Oils: Corn oil, soybean oil, and some other processed vegetable and seed oil.
- Trans Fat: Foods that contain partially hydrogenated ingredients.
- Processed Snacks: Chips, crackers, pretzels, etc.
If you are an alcoholic, you must reduce the intake. It’s because excessive alcohol consumption can lead to inflammation.
Causes of Inflammation
Inflammation can occur due to certain habitual factors in our lifestyle.
Research says regular intake of a high amount of sugar can lead to diabetes and inflammation.
A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition shows excessive intake of glucose and fructose could increase inflammation in healthy mice.
Scientists also confirmed the relation between high consumption of refined carbs and inflammation.
Another study published in the Mediators of Inflammation reports that excessive refined carbohydrates could increase insulin resistance and inflammatory mediators in obese children.
Some studies show that regular intake of vegetable oils may create an imbalance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which may trigger inflammation.
In a 2016 study, scientists proved that the imbalance of polyunsaturated fatty acids ratio could increase inflammation and oxidative stress in lab rats.
Another study published in 2010 confirms the increase of inflammation due to alcohol consumption.
The above studies have concluded that eating a high amount of unhealthy and processed foods, drinking alcohol are highly related to increased inflammation.
One Day Sample Meal Featuring Anti-Inflammatory Diet
If you start a healthy anti-inflammatory diet, you need to stick to a plan. Here’s a sample list of a healthy diet with anti-inflammatory foods:
- 110 g mushrooms, 67 g kale, and 3 egg omelet cooked in olive oil.
- 225 g of cherries or grapes.
- Green tea
- Grilled salmon or other fatty fish with mixed greens.
- 125 grams of raspberries, accompanied with unsweetened yogurt and nuts.
- Chicken curry or grill using olive oil, along with broccoli, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower.
- Red wine.
You can also try some bell pepper strips if you feel like snacking instead of chips and crackers.
Tips to Reduce Inflammation
Apart from following an anti-inflammatory diet, you must maintain a healthy lifestyle to reduce inflammation.
- Exercise regularly. It will help reduce inflammatory markers in your body.
- Try include fish oil and curcumin supplement in your regular diet.
- Try to get enough sleep to reduce inflammation.
Inflammation occurs when the body tries to fight against harmful viruses, bacteria, and fungi. So, it is somewhat helpful for your health.
However, if the inflammation becomes chronic, it may last through a week, a month, and even a year, leading towards different diseases.
While some diseases, wounds, and injuries cause inflammation, your habit of consuming unhealthy foods can make it worse.
Avoid the foods that lead to inflammation and discomfort, and choose an anti-inflammatory diet to improve the quality of your life.