What is an anti-inflammatory diet?
The anti-inflammatory diet includes nutrient-dense plant foods, and avoids processed foods and meats. An anti-inflammatory diet consists of foods that reduce inflammatory responses. This diet involves replacing sugary, refined foods with whole, nutrient-rich foods.
An anti-inflammatory diet also contains increased amounts of antioxidants, which are reactive molecules in food that reduce the number of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules in the body that may damage cells and increase the risk of certain diseases.
Many popular diets already follow anti-inflammatory principles. For example, the Mediterranean diet contains fish, whole grains, and fats that are good for the heart. Research has shown that this diet can reduce the effects of inflammation on the cardiovascular system.
What conditions can an anti-inflammatory diet help?
Doctors, dietitians, and naturopaths recommend anti-inflammatory diets as a complementary therapy for many conditions that are worsened by chronic inflammation.
An anti-inflammatory diet can help many conditions, including:
Additionally, eating an anti-inflammatory diet can help reduce the risk of certain cancers, including colorectal cancer.
Foods to eat
Cherries and blueberries contain antioxidants, which may help to ease inflammation. Good choices for a person following an anti-inflammatory diet include the following:
Foods to avoid
The main foods that people following an anti-inflammatory diet should avoid include:
Some people find that foods in the nightshades family, such as tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes, can trigger flares in some inflammatory diseases. There is limited evidence of this, but a person can try cutting nightshades from the diet for 2–3 weeks to see if their symptoms improve.
There is some evidence that suggests a high-carbohydrate diet, even when the carbs are healthful, may promote inflammation. Because of this, many people on an anti-inflammatory diet choose to reduce their carbohydrate intake.
Can a vegetarian diet reduce inflammation?People considering an anti-inflammatory diet may also want to consider eliminating meat in favor of vegetarian protein sources or fatty fish.
Research suggests that people following a vegetarian diet have higher levels of plasma AA, a marker of overall health that is associated with lower levels of inflammation and heart disease.
A 2017 study found that eating animal products increased the risk of systemic inflammation, while another study suggests that reduced inflammation is one of the key benefits of a vegan diet.
Anti-inflammatory diet tips
Anti-inflammatory diets may be a big adjustment for people who tend to eat different kinds of food.
There are several things a person can do to make the transition to an anti-inflammatory diet easier, including:
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