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Understanding Inflammation and the Anti-Inflammatory Diet: How to Manage Symptoms and Reduce Risk of Chronic Diseases With Diet

What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is the response of the body to protect itself from infection, injury, or illness, which is known as an inflammatory response. During his process white blood cells, immune cells, and cytokines are produced that help fight infection.(1What Is Inflammation?

There are many health conditions that may lead to inflammation and at times foods can be responsible for making it worse.

Inflammation can be managed by eating less processed foods and more plant-based foods. Sometimes the immune system does not work efficiently as it should and this can lead to low levels of recurrent inflammation.

Chronic inflammation can lead to diseases including psoriasis, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. It can last for weeks, months, or even years. Chronic inflammation may also lead to diabetes, fatty liver disease and cancer.(2, 3)

Dietary choices can be helpful in managing the symptoms. An anti-inflammatory diet consists of fruits and vegetables, a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains, lean protein, healthful fats, and spices. This diet discourages the consumption of processed foods, red meat, and alcohol.

What is Anti-Inflammatory Diet?

Some foods contain certain ingredients that may worsen or trigger inflammation. These foods include mostly sugary and processed foods.

An anti-inflammatory diet focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables. Most plant-based foods are rich in antioxidants. Dietary antioxidants are molecules that can be helpful in removing free radicals from the body.(4)

The anti-inflammatory diet should provide a healthy balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and fat in each meal.

Mediterranean diet is considered an anti-inflammatory diet and is known to reduce inflammatory markers such as CRP and IL-6.(5)

A diet low in carbohydrates also reduces inflammation, particularly in people with obesity and metabolic syndrome.(6, 7)

A vegetarian diet is also known to reduce inflammation.(8)

Foods to Eat to Reduce Inflammation

An anti-inflammatory diet comprises a variety of foods that are rich in nutrients, provide antioxidants, and contain heartful fats.

Foods that can be helpful in managing inflammation include:

  • Oily fish
  • Beans
  • Olives and olive oil
  • Fiber
  • Fruits including blackberries, strawberries, and cherries
  • Nuts and seeds

An article published in 2017 recommended:(9)

No single food can boost a person’s health. One needs a combination of healthful ingredients. A healthful plate includes all the colorful fruits and vegetables.

Foods to Avoid in Anti-Inflammatory Diet

An anti-inflammatory diet should be a combination of protein, carbs, and fats in the rightful proportion. One should ensure the diet fulfills the requirement of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water in the body. People who want to follow an anti-inflammatory diet should avoid:

  • Unhealthful oils
  • Processed foods
  • Excess alcohol
  • Foods with added sugar and salt
  • Processed carbs, which are present in white bread, white pasta, and baked foods
  • Processed snacks including chips and crackers
  • Premade desserts
  • Limiting intake of gluten, nightshades, and carbohydrates

Some people experience inflammatory reactions on taking gluten. In this case, foods containing gluten should be avoided. Some plants in the nightshade family including tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes trigger flares in some people.

Tips for Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Transitioning to new ways of eating can be very challenging. There are a few tips that can be helpful for a person, which include:

  • Pick a variety of foods and healthful snacks
  • Replace fast food with healthful homemade food
  • Replace sugary beverages with water
  • Speak with a healthcare professional about supplements
  • Incorporate moderate physical activity into the daily routine
  • Practicing good sleep hygiene as loss of sleep can lead to inflammation.(10)

Chronic inflammation can lead to disease, and diet and lifestyle can play a role in worsening it.

An anti-inflammatory diet can help in reducing inflammation and further help in improving symptoms of many common health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. It comprises a variety of healthy fruits and vegetables. Anyone confused about choosing an anti-inflammatory should speak with a professional about the best dietary options.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 18, 2023

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