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Inflammation is a natural process required for healing as well as a response to foreign triggers like allergens, germs, and injuries. Prolonged inflammation can be related to a disease process such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s. Chronic inflammation can cause body pain, constant fatigue, insomnia, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, weight gain, and frequent infections.

An anti-inflammatory diet is a way of eating that emphasizes whole, nutrient-dense foods that have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation has been linked to a variety of health issues, including heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune disorders, so an anti-inflammatory diet may have a positive impact on overall health.

Disclaimer

Although I am a physical therapist by profession, I am not your physical therapist.  This information is for educational purposes only, it does not constitute medical advice and does not establish any kind of therapist-patient relationship with me. I am not liable or responsible for any damages resulting from or related to your use of this information. Always consult with your healthcare provider prior to beginning any new exercise regime or when making changes to your diet.

Emphasize Whole, Minimally Processed Foods

Base your diet on whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. These foods are rich in antioxidants, fiber, and other beneficial compounds that help combat inflammation.

Choose Healthy Fats

Opt for healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds. These sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats provide anti-inflammatory benefits and are preferable to saturated and trans fats.

Include Fatty Fish

Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and trout are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have potent anti-inflammatory properties. Aim to consume fish at least twice a week.

Incorporate Herbs and Spices

Many herbs and spices possess anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper are examples of spices that can be added to meals to boost their anti-inflammatory effects.

Reduce Processed and Refined Foods

Processed and refined foods, including sugary snacks, sodas, white bread, and processed meats, can promote inflammation. Limit your intake of these foods and focus on whole, unprocessed options instead.

Limit Added Sugars

Excessive sugar consumption has been linked to increased inflammation. Minimize your intake of sugary drinks, desserts, and processed foods high in added sugars. This doesn’t mean replacing everything with artificial sweeteners, as those have their own detriments to our health and well-being.

Stay Hydrated

Proper hydration is essential for overall health and helps maintain optimal bodily functions. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. The amount of water a person needs to drink can vary depending on several factors, including age, sex, activity level, climate, and overall health. However, a general guideline often recommended is to drink about 8 cups (64 ounces) of water per day, which is equivalent to about 2 liters or half a gallon.

Foods That Promote Inflammation (AVOID):

  • Refined carbohydrates and processed grains – such as white bread and pastries
  • Fried foods
  • Soda
  • Red and processed meat – such as hamburgers, steaks, hot dogs, sausage
  • Margarine – shortening, lard
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
  • Hydrogenated oils
  • Sugar
  • Excess saturated fats and trans fats
  • Alcohol
  • Dairy

Foods That Combat Inflammation:

  • Tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Green leafy vegetables – such as spinach and kale
  • Nuts – such as almonds and walnuts
  • Seeds – such as chia seeds
  • Fatty fish – salmon or tuna
  • Whole grains – brown rice and quinoa
  • Fruits
  • Berries – such as blueberries and strawberries
  • Beans and legumes – such as chickpeas and lentils
  • Fermented foods
  • Green tea
  • Spices
    • Garlic
    • Ginger
    • Turmeric
    • Cinnamon
    • Cloves
    • Sage
    • Rosemary

It’s important to note that an anti-inflammatory diet should be viewed as part of an overall healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and stress management. As always, it’s best to consult with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian before making significant changes to your diet. If you have specific health concerns or medical conditions, it is best to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to create a personalized anti-inflammatory diet plan that suits your needs.