What is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet & Does It Really Work?

New research suggests that being on an anti-inflammatory diet can lower the risk of early death and also give you a better quality of life. An anti-inflammatory is made up of foods that contain a wide variety of plant-based chemicals that are known to lower your risk of developing any major chronic diseases. Anti-inflammatory diets are known to provide protection to the body’s cells and organs from both low-level and chronic inflammation. Inflammation has been linked to cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and many other types of health conditions. But does an anti-inflammatory diet really work? Let’s take a look.

What is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?

An anti-inflammatory diet is a type of diet that relies on consuming foods that are high in nutrients, particularly antioxidants. These foods, rich in antioxidants, are known to lower the markers of inflammation that are present in our bodies. These include the major food groups of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, legumes, and others. Fish, dark chocolate, nuts, olive oil, and avocado, red wine (in moderation), are all included in an anti-inflammatory diet. The diet is very similar to the very popular Mediterranean diet. In effect, any food item that is dense in nutrients and contains a lot of vitamins and minerals, foods that are colorful and derived from a natural source, is the ideal anti-inflammatory foods to include in this type of a diet.

However, an anti-inflammatory diet is not just about what foods you should eat. It is also about what foods you cannot eat. For example, foods that are rich in saturated fat, high in salt, sugar, and even refined carbohydrates, are to be avoided or restricted when you are following the anti-inflammatory diet.

When these unhealthy food groups are consumed in an excessive amount, they increase the markers for inflammation in your body. Inflammation has been linked to almost every type of chronic disease. High levels of inflammation in the body also increase the risk of cancer and diabetes significantly.

While the exact process involved in inflammation is not clearly understood, it is believed that when you consume the recommended amount of foods such as healthy fats, fruits and vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, you are reducing your risk of developing all these types of chronic diseases that are caused due to inflammation.

Fruits and vegetables are powerhouses of anti0inflammatories and antioxidants. Omega-3 fatty acids are also rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. It is believed that consuming plant-based foods is better for health and provides you with all the nutrients that are required to keep inflammation markets to their minimum.

Does Anti-Inflammatory Diet Really Work?

With the onslaught of various studies, it often becomes difficult for the consumer to understand which diets are worth their money and which ones are only a passing fad. However, there is definitely some weight to research that suggests that some types of food should be adopted, while some foods are best avoided.

With so many options available in fresh food, one should really consider avoiding the frozen meals and pizzas, quick cook items, and other snack-type items that fall under the category of processed foods. Things like sugar and red meat are also known causes of inflammation are should not be eaten in excess.

While the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet are definitely worth considering, the biggest problematic factor in following an anti-inflammatory diet is usually the cost. However, there are many types of strategies that you can use that will allow you to eat well on a planned budget as well.

Ultimately the research is valid and in the long run, the benefits of switching over to an anti-inflammatory diet definitely outweigh the current costs.

While major dietary shifts are problematic for many people, you must give yourself and your body some time to adjust to the new diet. Give yourself time to cook and prepare foods and also find ways in which you can follow and strictly stick to a grocery budget.

People also need to be aware of how some foods mix well with any medications they are taking, especially if you have an underlying health condition, before making any major dietary shift. For example, people who are taking blood thinners need to stringently monitor the intake of vitamin K. Many vegetables are rich in vitamin K, and without realizing it you might be getting an overdose of vitamin K if you are not aware of the same.

Some of the potential side effects of shifting to an anti-inflammatory diet are temporary and generally consist of constipation, gas, or bloating as the body gets adjusts to the high fiber intake.

Conclusion

The anti-inflammatory diet does work well in prolonging your life and keeping you healthy at the same time. To begin with, it is better to make certain small changes such as including a salad made from anti-inflammatory fruits and vegetables and having it at least three to four times a week, rather than immediately shifting to three meals that follow the directions of the anti-inflammatory diet. Setting small goals and then gradually building up to shift to the complete diet will allow your body the time it needs to adjust to foods from the anti-inflammatory diet.

References:

  1. Olendzki, B.C., Silverstein, T.D., Persuitte, G.M., Ma, Y., Baldwin, K.R. and Cave, D., 2014. An anti-inflammatory diet as treatment for inflammatory bowel disease: a case series report. Nutrition journal, 13(1), p.5.
  2. Adam, O., Beringer, C., Kless, T., Lemmen, C., Adam, A., Wiseman, M., Adam, P., Klimmek, R. and Forth, W., 2003. Anti-inflammatory effects of a low arachidonic acid diet and fish oil in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology international, 23(1), pp.27-36.
  3. Estruch, R., 2010. Anti-inflammatory effects of the Mediterranean diet: the experience of the PREDIMED study. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 69(3), pp.333-340.