Inflammation aids in the body’s ability to combat illness and can shield it from harm. In the majority of situations, it is an essential component of the healing process.
Some people, on the other hand, suffer from a medical condition in which their immune system does not function as it should. This dysfunction might result in low-level inflammation that is persistent or recurrent in nature.
Chronic inflammation is associated with a number of disorders, including psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma, among others. A growing body of evidence suggests that making dietary changes can assist to manage the symptoms.
Fruits and vegetables, foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains, lean protein, heart-healthy fats, and spices are all recommended as part of an anti-inflammatory diet. Processed meals, red meat, and alcoholic beverages are discouraged or limited in their consumption.
The anti-inflammatory diet is not a precise programme, but rather a way of eating that is beneficial to one’s health. Anti-inflammatory diets include the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, to name a few examples.
More information on inflammation can be found here.
What is an Anti-inflammatory diet
Some foods contain components that can cause or aggravate inflammation, depending on their composition. Foods high in sugar or processed may have this effect, whereas fresh, whole foods are less likely to have this effect.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are the foundation of an anti-inflammatory diet. Antioxidants can be found in abundance in a wide variety of plant-based meals. Some meals, on the other hand, have the potential to cause the creation of free radicals. Foods that are fried in cooking oil that has been heated repeatedly are examples of this.
The chemicals in food that act as antioxidants to help the body eliminate free radicals from the body are known as dietary antioxidants. Free radicals are naturally occuring results of a variety of biological functions, such as metabolism. External influences, such as stress and smoking, might, on the other hand, increase the amount of free radicals present in the body.
Free radicals have the potential to cause cell harm. This type of injury raises the likelihood of inflammation and can contribute to a variety of medical conditions.
Antioxidants are produced by the body to aid in the removal of these harmful chemicals, but dietary antioxidants are also beneficial.
Antioxidants are discussed in greater detail here.
When it comes to eating a healthy anti-inflammatory diet, foods that are high in antioxidants are prefered over meals that enhance the formation of free radicals.
Increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in oily fish, may help to lower the body’s production of inflammatory proteins. Similarly, according to the Arthritis Foundation, fibre can have a similar effect.
Which foods are high in antioxidants and which are low in antioxidants? Find out more about it here.
Types of anti-inflammatory diet
Anti-inflammatory concepts are already incorporated into many popular diets.
Examples include fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats in both the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, which are both based on Mediterranean principles.
However, research suggests that the Mediterranean diet, which emphasises plant-based foods and heart-healthy oils, can help to reduce the effects of inflammation on the cardiovascular system. Inflammation is thought to play a role in cardiovascular disease.
Who can it help?
In many cases, an anti-inflammatory diet can be used as a supplemental therapy to alleviate the symptoms of illnesses that worsen when chronic inflammation occurs.
Inflammation can be found in the following conditions:
- rheumatoid arthritis
- eosinophilic esophagitis
- Crohn’s disease
- inflammatory bowel disease
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- metabolic syndrome
Researchers believe that inflammation plays a role in each of these conditions. An anti-inflammatory diet, as a result, may be beneficial in improving the health of a person suffering from metabolic syndrome.
It is also possible that eating a diet high in antioxidants will assist to lessen the chance of developing some malignancies.
Antioxidants aid in the removal of free radicals; but, what exactly are free radicals? Find out more about it here.
Foods to eat
A diet that is anti-inflammatory should include a variety of foods that include:
- 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
- nuts and seeds
- olives and olive oil
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
- some herbs
It is important to remember the following:
No single food will boost a person’s health. It is critical to include a diverse range of nutritious items in one’s diet to maintain overall health.
Fresh, simple ingredients are best. Processing can change the nutritional content of foods.
People should check the labels of premade foods. While cocoa, for example, can be a healthy choice, the goods that contain cocoa are frequently high in sugar and fat.
A variety of antioxidants and other nutrients can be found on a colourful plate of food. Make sure to use a variety of colours in your fruits and vegetables.
Foods to avoid
Following an anti-inflammatory diet means avoiding or restricting the consumption of the following foods:
- 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: When gluten is consumed, some people suffer an inflammatory reaction in their body. An entirely gluten-free diet can be extremely restrictive, and it is not recommended for everyone. It is possible, however, for someone who feels that gluten is causing their symptoms to consider eliminating the gluten from their diet temporarily to see if their symptoms improve.
Nightshades: It appears that some people with inflammatory diseases are triggered by plants belonging to the nightshade family. This includes plants such as tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes. Therefore, there is still minimal data to support this claim; however, a person can experiment with eliminating nightshades from their diet for 2–3 weeks to see whether their symptoms improve.
Carbohydrates: A high-carbohydrate diet, even if the carbs are nutritious, has been shown to increase inflammation in some persons, according to some research. Some carbohydrate-rich meals, such as sweet potatoes and whole grains, are, on the other hand, good providers of antioxidants as well as other nutrients.
Can a vegetarian diet reduce inflammation?
A vegetarian diet may be an option for those who want to reduce inflammation in their bodies. The authors of a 2019 review reviewed data from 40 research, which they found to be significant. They came to the conclusion that those who eat a vegetarian diet are more likely to have lower levels of several inflammatory indicators in their blood.
According to the findings of a 2017 study, 268 people who followed a strict vegetarian diet, a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, or a nonvegetarian diet were studied. They included According to the findings, consuming animal products may increase the risk of systemic inflammation and insulin resistance in the body.
Earlier studies from 2014 revealed that a vegan diet may have significant health benefits, including lower inflammation levels.
Anti-inflammatory diet tips
Changing your eating habits can be difficult, however the following suggestions may be beneficial:
- 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.
An anti-inflammatory diet may be beneficial in reducing inflammation and alleviating the symptoms of some common health disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, according to some research.
Although there is no single anti-inflammatory diet, a diet that contains a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats may be beneficial in managing inflammation.
Individuals suffering from chronic health conditions that are characterised by inflammation should consult with a healthcare expert about the best nutritional options for them.