A Comprehensive Guide to an Anti -Inflammatory Diet

Inflammation is a natural process which occurs as a part of the body's immune response. Inflammatory cells are sent by the body to fight against infection or injury and thus inflammation as a natural process assists your body to heal and defend itself from harm. However, if the inflammation lingers in the body and goes beyond control, it may lead to chronic inflammation. This inflammation may last for weeks, months or years and trigger major health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, Alzheimer's disease and cancer.

The classic signs of short-term or acute inflammation include redness, pain, heat and swelling, while long-term or chronic inflammation may occur inside the body without any noticeable symptoms. Eating unhealthy food and consuming alcohol or sugary beverages may cause chronic inflammation. Additionally, an inactive lifestyle which involves minimal physical activity may also promote inflammation.

Medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, asthma, colitis, eosinophilic esophagitis, Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease, Hashimoto thyroiditis, Lupus and metabolic syndrome may involve chronic inflammation. Also, metabolic syndrome may refer to medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and obesity which tend to occur together. An anti-inflammatory diet may improve the health of a person and reduce the risk of developing health problems.

How Does an Anti-inflammatory Diet Work?

An anti-inflammatory diet involves consuming foods that have been shown to fight inflammation and minimize low-grade inflammation within the body. The diet may limit your intake of red meat and dairy while focusing on the consumption of fruits and vegetables. The nutritionist may ask you to consume foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids rather than omega-6 fatty acids and may ask you to choose complex carbohydrates over simple carbs. Limiting or eliminating sugar and processed foods and choosing unsaturated foods can be helpful for people suffering from chronic inflammation.

Consuming anti-inflammatory foods has significantly helped people to delay disease progression. An anti-inflammatory diet may help in pain management associated with ageing, increase recovery rate in athletic training, protect your heart and improve the quality of life for people with multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Importance of Anti-Inflammatory Diet

An anti-inflammatory diet which is inclusive of foods containing anti-oxidants may play a major role in treating inflammation. The diet should be a perfect balance of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fibre, healthy fats and water. Anti-oxidants are essential to reduce the levels of free radicals and are created by the body as a natural part of the metabolism.

However, if the free radicals increase in the body, they may lead to inflammation. Hence, it is advised to consume a nutrient-dense diet that cuts out processed products and boosts the intake of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich foods. Both the Mediterranean and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet which includes fresh fruits, whole grains, vegetables, fish and healthy fats could be considered anti-inflammatory diets.

Foods to Eat

An anti-inflammatory diet should be a combination of nutrients, antioxidants and healthy fats. The natural anti-inflammatory foods that you may include in your daily diet are as follows −

  • Fruits − Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, avocados, olives, grapes, bananas, apples, grapefruit, mangoes, peaches and pomegranates

  • Vegetables − Kale, spinach, broccoli, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, bell peppers and chilli peppers

  • Whole grains − Brown rice, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, chickpeas and lentils

  • Fish − Salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, mackerel, anchovies and lake trout have high plenty of omega-3 fatty acids which fight inflammation.

  • Nuts − Walnuts, almonds and other nuts.

  • Seeds − Chia seeds and flaxseed

  • Spices − Turmeric, Cinnamon and fenugreek

Additionally, dark chocolate, green tea, coffee, red wine, ginger and olive oil could be consumed as per your body's needs. You can seek help from a healthcare expert or a nutritionist to get a personalized anti-inflammatory diet.

Foods to Avoid

Inflammatory foods include highly processed, overly greasy or extremely sweet foods. Sweets, cakes, cookies and soda have high cholesterol, refined carbohydrates and high blood sugar which can easily lead to inflammation. High-fat and processed red meat as well as low-fat dairy products like butter, whole milk and cheese have a lot of saturated fat which can also cause inflammation.

Moreover, French fries, fried chicken or other fried foods have omega-6 fatty acids which may lead to inflammation. Products like coffee creamers, margarine or any food product which has Trans fats raise LDL cholesterol. These raised levels of cholesterol can result in inflammation. Some people may also experience an inflammatory reaction when they eat gluten.

Benefits of an Anti-inflammatory Diet

An anti-inflammatory diet when combined with exercise and good sleep may provide benefits like improvement in energy and mood, reduction in inflammatory markers in the blood and decreased risk of obesity, heart disease, depression, diabetes and cancer. Furthermore, some patients have also noticed a considerable improvement in symptoms of arthritis, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease and some other autoimmune disorders.

Certain supplements like fish oil and curcumin may reduce inflammation, but one must consult a healthcare provider before taking any supplements. Getting enough sleep is extremely important to overcome inflammation and exercising regularly can decrease inflammatory markers and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

People may feel better overall when they begin with an anti-inflammatory diet as they experience less bloating, achiness and gastrointestinal discomfort.

Anti-inflammatory Diet Tips

Changing your eating habits or lifestyle could be challenging. Follow these tips to bring about a change in your daily lifestyle to incorporate an anti-inflammatory diet −

  • Buy a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains during the weekly grocery shopping.

  • Replace fast food meals with healthful snacks and homemade lunches

  • Replace sugary beverages and soda with still or sparkling mineral water

  • Exercise regularly for at least 30 minutes a day.

  • Practice good sleep hygiene.


Chronic inflammation is unhealthy and can lead to many serious health problems. Dietary and lifestyle changes can lower the risk of chronic inflammation. There is no single fit-for-all anti-inflammatory diet, but you can consult a healthcare professional to design a specific diet plan for yourself. An anti-inflammatory diet may considerably reduce the risk of health issues and improve the quality of your life.

Updated on: 09-Feb-2023


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