Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Food List And Tips

Inflammation is an immune response that forms an important part of the body’s defensive mechanisms. It is the human body’s way of responding to a foreign object.

When a pathogen, such as a foreign bacterium, enters the body, the immune system reacts. This reaction causes inflammation. 

Acute cases of inflammation help the body fight off invading bacteria, viruses, and other germs. It is also a way for the body to heal. When an injury occurs, the body responds by triggering an inflammatory action in the damaged area. This promotes healing of the wound. 

In some patients, inflammation becomes chronic. This can happen due to injury, years of wear-and-tear in the body, or an adverse reaction to the immune system. In such cases, inflammation becomes a bad thing. It can lead to serious complications and cause chronic diseases to develop. 

We look at how an anti-inflammatory diet can be helpful in people with chronic inflammation. We also consider the types of anti-inflammatory diets and what foods to include in a meal plan. 

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What Is An Anti-Inflammatory Diet?

The Western diet, a term that is often used to describe the way people tend to eat in the modern-day, is often filled with unhealthy foods. Several scientific studies have raised concerns regarding the Western diet and its impact on the population. 

In one study, published in the Frontiers in Immunology, researchers explain an adverse alteration in the Western Diet’s gut microbiota. Furthermore, immune system responses, particularly at the mucosal interfaces, have also been noted to change with the current dieting habits. 

Another study focused on how the Western diet is considered a driving force behind the rising prevalence of obesity throughout the world. The study explains that many people’s current dieting habits cause a consistent series of inflammatory triggers in the body. This may adversely impact nutrient absorption, leads to obesity, and affect several symptoms in the human body. 

An anti-inflammatory diet focuses on reducing the intake of foods that are unhealthy. In particular, these foods help to reduce inflammation in the body. Anti-inflammatory diets are generally recommended for any person who experiences consistent inflammation in their bodies. 

Medical experts have weighed in on the use of anti-inflammatory diets. Research suggests that several foods part of a person’s diet may contribute to chronic low-grade inflammation. 

One research paper explains that an anti-inflammatory diet is one of the most effective ways to overcome what is often called “silent inflammation.” 

An anti-inflammatory diet consists of two important parts:

  • Foods that trigger inflammation in the body need to be eliminated from the person’s diet. 

  • Foods that are known to reduce inflammation needs to be included more frequently.

By following this strategy, the diet will help to reduce the occurrence of inflammatory triggers. It will also help to lower current levels of inflammation in the body.

The dual action of an anti-inflammatory trigger is what makes this such a potent option for people with arthritis, autoimmune conditions, and those who are constantly exposed to factors that lead to inflammatory markers rising in the body. 

Types Of Anti-Inflammatory Diets?

The term “anti-inflammatory diet” doesn’t refer to a single program. Instead, it is a general term that is used to describe a way of eating.

A person who is interested in following an anti-inflammatory diet will usually consider their current diet. Meal plans and trends related to an anti-inflammatory diet is then taken into consideration as well. 

The person would then eliminate foods in their diet that are known to contribute to high inflammation levels in the body. At the same time, foods known to cause a reduction in inflammation will be added to their daily diet. 

There are, however, a few programs that help people adopt an anti-inflammatory diet with ease. These programs will usually have a pre-developed meal plan and give the person a comprehensive overview of what needs to be avoided to promote a lowering of inflammatory triggers in their body. 

Anti-inflammatory diet programs will all be based on the same elements. These are the factors that form the basis of these diets. It is possible for a person to modify such a program, as long as they keep pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory foods in mind. 

The main goals of most anti-inflammatory diets include:

  • To increase the intake of vegetables and fruits. The idea is for the person to have up to nine servings of these foods each day. 

  • To reduce the consumption of dairy products.

  • To limit the body’s exposure to red meat. 

  • To prefer the consumption of complex carbohydrates and reduce the intake of simple carbs. 

  • To eliminate the consumption of processed foods

Health Benefits Of An Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Implementing an anti-inflammatory diet can hold several benefits for a person’s body. The primary benefit associated with the diet would be its ability to fight inflammation. By reducing inflammation, the risk for certain diseases and ailments start to decline.

Due to the long-term effects this chronic disease , further risk of damage dealt with the body may also be eliminated. 

Some people are not sure whether following an anti-inflammatory diet will be an appropriate option for them. Considering all of the potential health benefits that come with such a diet can help drive this decision. 

Some of the additional benefits that people can expect when they implement a diet that is rich in anti-inflammatory foods may include:

  • The foods included in these diets have a protective effect on the heart. This helps to promote improved cardiovascular well-being. 

  • Pain may also be reduced, especially among the aging population. Inflammation is a common driver behind pain in patients with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other inflammatory conditions. By reducing systemic inflammation, pain symptoms may also decline. 

  • The risk of cancer may be reduced. Multiple studies have shown a link between chronic low-grade inflammation and the risk of cancer.

  • Some studies have also reported an improvement in the recovery rate among athletes. Muscle soreness may be reduced, and the person may experience less fatigue after a strenuous training session. 

Foods To Eat

When talking about diets, food restrictions would often be one of the first topics to come up with. Sure, the anti-inflammatory diet also has restrictions.

As noted previously, eliminating the intake of pro-inflammatory foods has become a critical part of the diet’s efficacy.

However, the good news is that the anti-inflammatory diet is much less restricted than many of the other diet programs.  In fact, it shares many similarities to a mediterranean diet.

A large variety of foods have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory effects. This adds more flexibility to a meal plan, allowing a person to create delicious breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners. 

Some of the most important foods that should be consumed when following an anti-inflammatory diet include:

  • Fruits with a focus on those with a deeper color. Cherries, grapes, and berries are all excellent options.

  • Vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, kale, cabbage, and spinach, which are rich in antioxidants.

  • Cook with healthy fats and oils. Coconut oil and olive oil are both preferred options. 

  • Dark chocolate can be consumed as a snack. 

  • Nuts also form a great snack choice, including almonds, cashews, and pecan nuts.

  • Fruits that are high in healthy fats. Olives and avocados are both good options. 

  • Chilli peppers are also anti-inflammatory, as well as bell peppers. 

  • Several spices have anti-inflammatory compounds. These include cinnamon, fenugreek, turmeric, and more. 

  • Green tea is a healthy beverage that has several benefits, including anti inflammatory properties.

  • Oily fish and Fatty fish should be an important part of an anti-inflammatory diet. Herring, anchovies, sardines, mackerel, and salmon are all great choices. These fish varieties are high in omega 3 fatty acids. 

In addition to these foods, both men and women can also benefit from having a small serving of red wine daily. Several studies have shown that wine may produce an effective antioxidant effect in the body. Furthermore, red wine has also been linked to reduced inflammation in the body. 

In one study, researchers showed that the resveratrol content of red wine contributes to its anti-inflammatory properties. The study provided evidence of a modulation effect on Interleukin-1-Beta, particularly within macrophages in the body. 

Foods To Avoid

While many foods can be enjoyed on an anti-inflammatory diet, it is important that a person notes the foods that should be avoided, too-continuing to consume pro-inflammatory foods while on this diet would reduce its effectiveness. 

There are several foods known to trigger inflammatory responses in the body. These should be minimized. If possible, a person should see if they are able to completely eliminate such foods from their diet. 

Important pro-inflammatory foods that need to be avoided during this type of diet include:

  • Processed meat, such as sausage and bologna. 

  • Vegetable oils, including corn oil and soybean oil. 

  • Seed oils that have been processed. 

  • Fried foods that contain hydrogenated fat, saturated fat and trans fat. 

  • Beverages that are filled with refined sugar. This does not only include sodas that are sweetened, but also most commercially available juices. 

  • Desserts, including ice cream, cake, candy, and cookies. 

  • Foods that are produced from refined carbohydrates, such as white pasta or white bread. 

  • Snacks made from processed ingredients, including pretzels and crackers

  • Potato chips and other bagged convenience snacks high in unhealthy fats. 

Apart from these foods and drinks, people should also limit their alcohol intake while on an anti-inflammatory diet. Excessive consumption of alcohol has been shown to trigger inflammation in the body. This can reduce the effect that the anti inflammatory diet provides. 

Sample Menu For An Anti-Inflammatory Diet

One of the greatest factors about an anti-inflammatory diet is the versatility that comes with this “lifestyle.” There is not a specific meal plan that needs to be followed. A person who is not trying to lose weight is not required to count their macronutrient profile and keep track of calories constantly. 

The main factor involved in the diet is to stop eating foods that trigger inflammation in the body while also eating more anti-inflammatory foods. 

Since the guidelines can be a bit vague, some people have delayed following the diet as they are unsure where to start. Having a look at an example of a meal plan can, however, be helpful. This gives the person an idea of how they can incorporate various anti-inflammatory foods into their daily diet. 

Thus, in this section, we share a simple example of a one-day meal plan that takes advantage of the anti-inflammatory diet guidelines. 

  • Breakfast: For the first meal of the day, an omelet with some kale and mushrooms offers enough sustenance to help the person get through the morning. The omelet should ideally be prepared using olive oil. Normal cooking oils should be avoided. The omelet can be enjoyed with a few cherries or berries, as well as a cup of green tea. 

  • Lunch: When lunchtime arrives, a few green vegetables, along with salmon that is grilled, can be both healthy and delicious. Again, olive oil should be used in the preparation of the food. 

  • Dinner: A curried chicken with some broccoli and cauliflower makes the perfect way of ending the day without eating pro-inflammatory foods. A glass of red wine can be enjoyed with dinner, as this alcoholic beverage has proven benefits associated with it. 

There are a few delicious snacks that can also form part of the person’s daily diet. Some examples of snacks that can be consumed when following an anti-inflammatory diet include:

  • Strips of bell pepper served with some guacamole.

  • A single serving of 80% dark cocoa chocolate. This should be about 30 grams of dark chocolate. 

  • Pecan nuts chopped into small pieces, along with some raspberries, added to a cup of Greek yogurt. 

Anti-Inflammatory Diet Tips

Diet should not be the only factor in a person’s life when there is a need for reducing inflammation. While an appropriate diet can be helpful, additional elements can enhance the efficacy of these dieting habits. 

To get the most out of an anti-inflammatory diet, people should consider implementing these tips and methods too:

  • A few supplements on the market contain concentrated extracts from certain anti-inflammatory herbs and plants. For example, studies show that a supplement with curcumin may provide a more effective reduction in inflammation, particularly when compared to the use of turmeric in food.

  • Sleep deprivation has been linked to a significant increase in inflammation levels within the human body. When a person does not sleep enough while following an anti-inflammatory diet, they may not be able to experience the program’s full potential. Adequate sleep helps the body heal at night. It also helps to reduce the risk of increased inflammatory responses. 

  • Exercise is another crucial factor that should form part of an anti-inflammatory diet. Several studies have shown exercise to be a critical factor in reducing inflammatory markers in the human body. Furthermore, exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of most chronic diseases. 

Conclusion

Chronic inflammation in the body can lead to serious complications. It has been linked to heart disease, cardiovascular disease, reduced cognitive performance, and metabolic syndrome.

Long-term exposure to inflammatory responses can lead to an increased risk of certain cancers too. An anti-inflammatory diet is advised for patients with chronic inflammation. These diets have an anti inflammatory effect on the body and may lead to long-term health benefits. 

Sources

  1. InformedHealth.org. (2010) What is an inflammation? [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279298/
  2. Frontiers in Immunology. (2017) The Impact of Western Diet and Nutrients on the Microbiota and Immune Response at Mucosal Interfaces. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5532387/
  3. Dovepress. (2019) How Western Diet And Lifestyle Drive The Pandemic Of Obesity And Civilization Diseases. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6817492/
  4. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. (2015) Anti-inflammatory Diets. [online] Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26400429/#:~:text=To%20overcome%20silent%20inflammation%20requires,of%20omega%2D6%20fatty%20acids.
  5. Journal of Nutrients. (2018) Study of Potential Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Red Wine Extract and Resveratrol through a Modulation of Interleukin-1-Beta in Macrophages. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6316397/
  6. Journal of Foods. (2017) Curcumin: A Review of Its’ Effects on Human Health. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5664031/
Alternative Text

Dr. Ahmed Zayed

Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Founder of ZayedMD, Dr. Ahmed believes in making the knowledge as accessible as possible to patients. He had his work featured in reputable publications such as The Huffington Post. Other than his passion for writing, Dr. Ahmed spends​ his time outside the hospital at the gym or with a good book.

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