Anti-inflammatory diet: Food list and tips (2023)

Inflammation occurs with many health conditions, and some foods appear to make it worse. Eating less processed food, alcohol, and red meat and consuming more plant-based foods may help manage inflammation.

However, some people have a medical condition in which the immune system does not work as it should. This malfunction can lead to persistent or recurrent low level inflammation.

Chronic inflammation occurs with various diseases, such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma. There is evidence that dietary choices may help manage the symptoms.

An anti-inflammatory diet favors fruits and vegetables, foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains, lean protein, healthful fats, and spices. It discourages or limits the consumption of processed foods, red meats, and alcohol.

The anti-inflammatory diet is not a specific regimen but rather a style of eating. The Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet are examples of anti-inflammatory diets.

Learn more here about inflammation.

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Some foods contain ingredients that can trigger or worsen inflammation. Sugary or processed foods may do this, while fresh, whole foods are less likely to have this effect.

An anti-inflammatory diet focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables. Many plant-based foods are good sources of antioxidants. Some foods, however, can trigger the formation of free radicals. Examples include foods that people fry in repeatedly heated cooking oil.

Dietary antioxidants are molecules in food that help remove free radicals from the body. Free radicals are the natural byproducts of some bodily processes, including metabolism. However, external factors, such as stress and smoking, can increase the number of free radicals in the body.

Free radicals can lead to cell damage. This damage increases the risk of inflammation and can contribute to a range of diseases.

The body creates some antioxidants that help it remove these toxic substances, but dietary antioxidants also help.

To learn more about antioxidants, click here.

(Video) Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Food List

An anti-inflammatory diet favors foods that are rich in antioxidants over those that increase the production of free radicals.

Omega-3 fatty acids, which are present in oily fish, may help reduce the levels of inflammatory proteins in the body. Fiber can also have this effect, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

Which foods are good sources of antioxidants? Find out here.

Types of anti-inflammatory diet

Many popular diets already adhere to anti-inflammatory principles.

For example, both the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet include fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, whole grains, and fats that are good for the heart.

Inflammation appears to play a role in cardiovascular disease, but research suggests that the Mediterranean diet, with its focus on plant-based foods and healthful oils, can reduce the effects of inflammation on the cardiovascular system.

Try our meal plan for the Mediterranean diet here.

An anti-inflammatory diet may serve as a complementary therapy for many conditions that become worse with chronic inflammation.

The following conditions involve inflammation:

  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • psoriasis
  • asthma
  • eosinophilic esophagitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • colitis
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • lupus
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome refers to a collection of conditions that tend to occur together, including type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.

Scientists believe that inflammation plays a role in all of these. An anti-inflammatory diet may, therefore, help improve the health of a person with metabolic syndrome.

Eating a diet that is rich in antioxidants may also help reduce the risk of certain cancers.

Antioxidants help remove free radicals, but what are free radicals? Find out here.

(Video) ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOODS | what I eat every week

An anti-inflammatory diet should combine a variety of foods that:

  • are rich in nutrients
  • provide a range of antioxidants
  • contain healthful fats

Foods that may help manage inflammation include:

  • oily fish, such as tuna and salmon
  • fruits, such as blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and cherries
  • vegetables, including kale, spinach, and broccoli
  • beans
  • nuts and seeds
  • olives and olive oil
  • fiber

The authors of a 2017 article also recommended the following:

  • raw or moderately cooked vegetables
  • legumes, such as lentils
  • spices, such as ginger and turmeric
  • probiotics and prebiotics
  • tea
  • some herbs

It is worth remembering that:

No single food will boost a person’s health. It is important to include a variety of healthful ingredients in the diet.

Fresh, simple ingredients are best. Processing can change the nutritional content of foods.

People should check the labels of premade foods. While cocoa can be a good choice, for example, the products that contain cocoa often also contain sugar and fat.

A colorful plate will provide a range of antioxidants and other nutrients. Be sure to vary the colors of fruits and vegetables.

Which diet is best for people with osteoarthritis?

People who are following an anti-inflammatory diet should avoid or limit their intake of:

(Video) Anti inflammatory food diet for chronic inflammation, chronic pain and arthritis

  • processed foods
  • foods with added sugar or salt
  • unhealthful oils
  • processed carbs, which are present in white bread, white pasta, and many baked goods
  • processed snack foods, such as chips and crackers
  • premade desserts, such as cookies, candy, and ice cream
  • excess alcohol
  • In addition, people may find it beneficial to limit their intake of the following:

Gluten: Some people experience an inflammatory reaction when they consume gluten. A gluten-free diet can be restrictive, and it is not suitable for everyone. However, if a person suspects that gluten is triggering symptoms, they may wish to consider eliminating it for a while to see if their symptoms improve.

Nightshades: Plants belonging to the nightshade family, such as tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes, seem to trigger flares in some people with inflammatory diseases. There is limited evidence to confirm this effect, but a person can try cutting nightshades from the diet for 2–3 weeks to see if their symptoms improve.

Carbohydrates: There is some evidence that a high carb diet, even when the carbs are healthful, may promote inflammation in some people. However, some carb-rich foods, such as sweet potatoes and whole grains, are excellent sources of antioxidants and other nutrients.

Is there a link between sugar and inflammation? Find out here.

Can a vegetarian diet reduce inflammation?

A vegetarian diet may be one option for people looking to reduce inflammation. The authors of a 2019 review analyzed data from 40 studies. They concluded that people who follow a vegetarian-based diet are likely to have lower levels of various inflammatory markers.

A 2017 study looked at the data of 268 people who followed either a strict vegetarian diet, a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet, or a nonvegetarian diet. The findings suggested that eating animal products could increase the risk of systemic inflammation and insulin resistance.

Earlier research from 2014 suggested that lower inflammation levels could be a key benefit of a vegan diet.

Get some tips on switching to a plant-based diet here.

It can be challenging to transition to a new way of eating, but the following tips may help:

  • Pick up a variety of fruits, vegetables, and healthful snacks during the weekly shop.
  • Gradually replace fast food meals with healthful, homemade lunches.
  • Replace soda and other sugary beverages with still or sparkling mineral water.

Other tips include:

  • Talking to a healthcare professional about supplements, such as cod liver oil or a multivitamin.
  • Incorporating 30 minutes of moderate exercise into the daily routine.
  • Practicing good sleep hygiene, as poor sleep can worsen inflammation.

Can supplements help reduce inflammation? Find out here.

Takeaway

(Video) 13 Anti-Inflammatory Foods You Must Include In Your Diet

An anti-inflammatory diet may help reduce inflammation and improve symptoms of some common health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

There is no single anti-inflammatory diet, but a diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthful fats may help manage inflammation.

Anyone who has a chronic health condition that involves inflammation should ask a healthcare professional about the best dietary options for them.

Q:

Is coffee acceptable on an anti-inflammatory diet?

A:

Coffee contains antioxidants, such as polyphenols, which help fight free radicals in the body and are safe to include in an anti-inflammatory diet.

Drink coffee in moderation, however, as too much of anything can have harmful effects.

Also, be wary of what you add to your coffee. Skip the pro-inflammatory additives, such as sugary creamers, syrups, and whipped cream.

(Video) The Anti-Inflammatory Diet Explained by a REAL Doctor | Reduce Inflammation with These Tips!

Instead, add coconut milk, cinnamon, unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla extract, or a little raw honey. You could even combine a few of these ingredients to make your own “fancy” yet healthful cup of joe.

Katherine Marengo LDN, R.D. Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.

FAQs

What foods are best to reduce inflammation? ›

Anti-inflammatory foods

green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards. nuts like almonds and walnuts. fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines. fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges.

Can you give me a list of inflammatory foods? ›

What foods cause inflammation?
  • Red meat and processed meats, including bacon, hot dogs, lunch meats and cured meats.
  • Refined grains, including white bread, white rice, pasta and breakfast cereals.
  • Snack foods, including chips, cookies, crackers and pastries.
  • Sodas and other sweetened drinks.
  • Fried foods.
Jun 29, 2022

What is the fastest way to reduce inflammation in the body? ›

Follow these six tips for reducing inflammation in your body:
  1. Load up on anti-inflammatory foods. ...
  2. Cut back or eliminate inflammatory foods. ...
  3. Control blood sugar. ...
  4. Make time to exercise. ...
  5. Lose weight. ...
  6. Manage stress.
Jan 15, 2020

What is the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory? ›

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids , which are abundant in fatty fish such as cod, are among the most potent anti-inflammatory supplements.

What is the best anti-inflammatory drink? ›

Here are five research-backed drinks that can help fight inflammation in your body.
  1. Baking soda + water. A recent study in the Journal of Immunologyfound drinking a tonic of baking soda and water may help reduce inflammation. ...
  2. Parsley + ginger green juice. ...
  3. Lemon + turmeric tonic. ...
  4. Bone broth. ...
  5. Functional food smoothie.
Jun 20, 2018

Is peanut butter good for inflammation? ›

Are peanuts inflammatory? The short answer is no, and in fact, peanuts and some peanut products like peanut butter have been shown to be anti-inflammatory.

What is the number one food that causes inflammation? ›

The bottom line

Processed meat, added sugar, and refined grains are considered inflammatory foods. Chronic inflammation can damage your body's tissues and organs and lead to health issues like heart disease and diabetes.

Is oatmeal inflammatory food? ›

Background: Oat and its compounds have been found to have anti-inflammatory effects.

Are Bananas an inflammatory? ›

Bananas are versatile fruits with anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties that can help counteract inflammation and support the body's immune system. People may benefit from an anti-inflammatory diet and avoiding pro-inflammatory foods.

What are the 5 classic signs of inflammation? ›

Based on visual observation, the ancients characterised inflammation by five cardinal signs, namely redness (rubor), swelling (tumour), heat (calor; only applicable to the body' extremities), pain (dolor) and loss of function (functio laesa).

What fruit is good for inflammation? ›

Eat these fruits for their anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Berries. From strawberries and blackberries to cranberries and blueberries, these gemlike fruits are particularly potent in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. ...
  • Apples. ...
  • Stone fruits. ...
  • Grapes. ...
  • Citrus. ...
  • Pomegranates. ...
  • Image: Kwangmoozaa/Getty Images.
Oct 13, 2021

What vitamins help with inflammation? ›

Vitamins That Fight Inflammation
  • Vitamin A.
  • B Vitamins.
  • Vitamin C.
  • Vitamin D.
  • Vitamin E.
  • Vitamin K.

Does drinking water reduce inflammation? ›

Inflammation. Health experts recommend that a diet rich in anti-oxidants as well as staying hydrated with enough water are great ways to reduce inflammation in the body. Water is specifically recommended because it can flush toxins and other irritants out of the body.

What exercises help inflammation? ›

Walking. Going for a walk is one of the most easily accessible ways to get exercise into your day. And according to a study on inflammation and exercise, even a 20-minute walk can lower the body's inflammatory response.

Are eggs inflammatory? ›

Consuming eggs regularly can lead to an increased amount of swelling and joint pain. The yolks contain arachidonic acid, which helps trigger inflammation in the body. Eggs also contain saturated fat which can also induce joint pain.

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