Benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet

An anti-inflammatory diet is exactly what it sounds like - it’s eating in a way that aims to reduce inflammation (swelling) in your body. 
 
While there is a type of “good” acute inflammation that occurs when you get injured or when fighting off viruses or bacterial infections, chronic inflammation is the kind that stays present in the body when there is no immediate damage to repair. When our bodies get into a state of chronic inflammation, it can lead to health issues ranging from an increase in severe PMS symptoms to heart disease, autoimmune diseases, endometriosis, and digestive disorders.¹ 
 
There are lots of signs that your body might be struggling with chronic inflammation, such as joint aches and back pain, skin symptoms like acne, or GI issues like diarrhea or constipation. While medications have been developed to help treat chronic inflammation, the best way to manage chronic inflammation is through diet and lifestyle change.² If we want a healthier life we won’t get it through popping a pill but through fundamentally changing how we eat.
 
Studies have found that lifestyle factors are perhaps the most important key to managing and treating chronic inflammation in the body, with diet being the most powerful tool we can harness for our health.³ Certain foods tend to cause inflammation in the body such as trans fatty acids, added refined forms of sugar, refined carbohydrates, and processed meats. 
 
So swapping out vegetable oils fo more high quality oils such as olive, avocado, flax, and rapeseed, reducing your intake of packaged and processed snack foods in favor of whole foods, and taking bacon, deli meat, and hot dogs off the menu can be a great start towards an anti-inflammatory way of eating.

Eliminating these foods from your diet can improve your health substantially, but don’t simply focus on what you shouldn’t eat (which may lead you to feel restricted). What you do eat is just as important as what you don’t eat. There are certain foods you can add to your diet that have anti-inflammatory properties to help reduce bloating and beat back that chronic inflammation.
 
Here are a few simple ways to start adding anti-inflammatory foods into your diet today:
  • Nuts & Seeds - Healthy fats play a key role in reducing inflammation, and certain seeds can offer additional benefits because of their magnesium, zinc, linoleic acid, vitamin E content, and fiber. Seed cycling, which switches between a blend of pumpkin/flax seeds and sesame/sunflower seeds according to the phases of your menstrual cycle, can be a great way to boost your intake of anti-inflammatory foods while also balancing your hormones. 
  • Cruciferous Vegetables - Eating more cruciferous vegetables like brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, kale and even cauliflower can provide anti-inflammatory benefits. Studies have shown that eating 1.5 cups of cruciferous vegetables per day can substantially lower inflammatory markers in the blood.⁴
  • Antioxidant-Rich Berries - While all types of fruit fall under an anti-inflammatory diet, the darker the fruit the bigger the benefit. Dark cherries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries contain the best antioxidants for fighting back inflammation in the body.⁵
  • Anti-inflammatory Spices - Certain spices have long been used in alternative forms of medicine for their anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric, ginger, fenugreek, cinnamon, garlic, and pepper all contain active compounds that help battle chronic types of inflammation.⁶⁷⁸ Adding some extra spice to your cooking might help take that extra inflammation out of your body.


Of course these aren’t the only anti-inflammatory foods out there. If you’re looking to switch to a more anti-inflammatory diet the biggest key is to aim for a diet built around whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and any other sole ingredient foods that are found in nature. The more good food you put into your diet, the more good health you’ll get in return. 

  

Sources Referenced:
¹ Dr. Hyman: Inflammation & Immune Balance
² PMID: 22178471
³ PMID: 22178471
⁴ DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2013.12.019
⁵ Harvard Health: Eat these fruits for their anti-inflammatory benefits
⁶ PMID: 31935866
⁷ PMID: 32673835
⁸ PMID: 29065496