Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Elise Deming, RDN
Assorted vegetables

An anti-inflammatory diet is a common diet many people follow to reduce inflammation found within their body. Some health professionals claim chronic inflammation contributes to many of today's diseases including heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease. An anti-inflammatory diet is broad and can include a wide variety of foods.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

The anti-inflammatory diet is not intended to be a weight-loss program or a diet followed for a specific period. Instead, an anti-inflammatory diet is more of a lifestyle change. Anti-inflammatory diets promote the selection and preparation of foods based on scientific knowledge and are designed to help the body achieve optimal health. Beneficial claims promoting an anti-inflammatory diet include:

  • May reduce inflammation seen in arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, cardiovascular disease, cancers, and other conditions
  • Provide steady energy, as it is full of fiber and nutritious foods
  • Provides ample vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and dietary fiber

What Makes up the Diet?

An anti-inflammatory diet is general and therefore allows for a lot of flexibility. However, most anti-inflammatory diets include ample amounts of vitamin rich, nourishing foods and minimal processed, sugary foods.

Fruits and Vegetables

Any anti-inflammatory diet is full of fruits and vegetables. Major tips include:

  • Eat a wide range of colors of fruits and veggies. Each color offers different vitamins.
  • Eat both raw and cooked vegetables.
  • Make half of every meal fruits and vegetables.
  • Choose organic when possible.
  • Always wash your produce.

Protein

  • Consume omega-3 rich fish such as salmon, mackerel, or tuna.
  • Eat vegetable protein, especially from beans and soybeans.
  • Snack on nuts such as almonds, walnuts, and pistachios.

Whole Grains

  • When consuming grains, make such to choose whole grains.
  • Avoid "white" or refined grains, which tend to be lower in nutrition and fiber.

Fiber

  • Try to eat 25 grams of fiber a day.
  • If you aren't currently eating that amount of fiber, you may want to increase gradually each day by about 5g.

Healthy Fats

Get your healthy oils by eating:

  • Olive oil
  • Avocados and nuts: walnuts, cashews, almonds, and nut butters made from these nuts
  • For Omega-3 fatty acids eat: salmon, sardines packed in water or olive oil, herring, and black cod; omega-3 fortified eggs; hemp seeds and flaxseeds; or fish oil supplements

Phytonutrients

  • For maximum natural protection against age-related diseases, eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and mushrooms.
  • Include soy foods in your diet.
  • Drink tea herbal teas.
  • If you drink alcohol, red wine is preferred.
  • Enjoy plain dark chocolate in moderation (minimum cocoa content of 70 percent).

Water

  • Drink 6-8 glasses of pure water a day or drinks that are mostly water.
  • Avoid or minimize sugary drinks and soft drinks.

Foods to Reduce or Avoid

  • Butter, shortening, lard, margarine
  • Sugar sweetened beverages, such as juices and sodas
  • Refined carbohydrates such as desserts, candy, white breads, white pasta, chips, cookies, crackers, etc.
  • Other full-fat dairy products
  • Fried foods
  • Fatty, red, or highly processed meats such as bacon and sausage
  • Products made with coconut and palm kernel oils

Anti-Inflammatory Diet and You

Anti-inflammatory diets have the potential to improve the health of many individuals experiencing chronic conditions such as arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, etc. This diet includes a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, fish and plant-based proteins, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fiber. The diet minimizes consumption of highly processed, sugary or fatty foods. An anti-inflammatory diet could be a healthy diet for anyone to follow.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet