Anti-inflammatory Diet – How To Fight Inflammation And DiseasesCharushila BiswasNovember 30, 2018
Inflammation. Swelling. Pain. Not really a pleasant sensation. But what if it persists and becomes a chronic condition? Chronic inflammation increases the risk of cancer, diabetes, obesity, and osteoarthritis and leads to weak immunity (1), (2), (3). Sometimes, stress can also cause inflammation without the regular, visible symptoms. Like inflammation-induced obesity!
An unhealthy diet and a sedentary lifestyle are the main reasons for chronic inflammation. So, the first line of defense against inflammation and inflammation-induced diseases is to follow an anti-inflammatory diet. Read on to know what inflammation is, how the anti-inflammatory diet will help, foods to eat and avoid, diet chart, benefits, and tips. Let’s begin!
Inflammation is your body’s natural process of healing (surprise!) (4). It is the body’s immune response to a stimulus. The stimulus can bean infection, wound, radiation, or chemical reaction.The signs and symptoms of inflammation are swelling, pain, redness, heat, loss of function, fever, increase in the number of defense cells, and sepsis.
During an inflammatory response, the immune cells in your body secrete the hormones histamine and bradykinin, which cause the blood vessels to expand and increase blood vessel permeability, allowing more blood and immune cells to rush toward the inflamed site. This causes redness, swelling, and heat.
Sometimes, the body mistakenly fights against body cells and causes an inflammatory response to flare up. Diseases like arthritis, psoriasis, and ulcerative colitis are a few examples (5).
As I mentioned before, inflammation doesn’t always occur with a visible set of symptoms. Your body can be under constant stress and inflammation if you are on an unhealthy diet and lead a sedentary lifestyle (6).
Here’s where the anti-inflammatory diet comes into the picture. Scroll down to see how an anti-inflammatory diet helps.
The anti-inflammatory diet helps by limiting the intake of inflammation-causing foods.
It consists of foods loaded with omega-3 fatty acids to balance the omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio. The ideal ratio should be 1:1. But the diet that we follow has a high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio (15:1 or 17:1). So, by consuming omega-3 containing foods, you will be able to balance the omega-3 and omega-6 ratio (7).
The anti-inflammatory diet also excludes foods like sugars and high corn fructose syrup – which helps lower the risk of diabetes and obesity and reduce insulin resistance (8), (9), (10).
In this diet, you will also be avoiding or limiting your intake of refined carbs.Consuming too many refined carbs can cause obesity and insulin resistance, which, in turn, increase the inflammation levels in the body (11).
You must also stay away from trans fats. These are partially hydrogenated oils found in most processed foods (12). They cause obesity and heart disease (13), (14).
When you are on the anti-inflammatory diet, you must avoid or limit your intake of alcohol and processed meat as these also increase inflammation in the body (15), (16).
You must also lead an active lifestyle as it will help lower stress and inflammation in the body (17).
In the following section, you will find a list of foods that you must eat and avoid to lower the inflammation levels in your body. Make sure you talk to your doctor before consuming any of these. Avoid certain foods if you are allergic to them.
Fruits And Veggies – Fruits and veggies are loaded with dietary fiber, vitamins, fruit sugar, water, minerals, and antioxidants. These nutrients help scavenge the harmful free oxygen radicals that increase inflammation in the body (18).
Consume dark leafy greens, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, sweet potato, apple, banana, peach, grapes, dates, and dried apricots.
Whole Grains – Whole grains are nutritious and contain a truckload of dietary fiber. The dietary fiber adds bulk to the stool and improves bowel movement. It also increases the number and variety of gut bacteria, which aid good digestion. This, in turn, frees your body from free oxygen radicals and lowers stress and the risk of various diseases (19).
Consume brown rice, barley, buckwheat, and oats regularly. Avoid consuming these if you have stomach ulcer.
Beans – Beans are a great source of protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The dietary fiber and phenolic compounds present in beans help lower inflammation biomarkers and reduce colonic inflammation (20).
Consume navy beans, black beans, kidney beans, mung beans, garbanzo beans, Bengal gram, green Bengal gram, and black-eyed peas.
Nuts – Nuts are powerhouses of antioxidants, healthy fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, phytosterols, and dietary fiber (21). Frequent nut consumption has been positively associated with lowering inflammatory biomarkers (22).
Consume almonds, walnuts, macadamia, pine nuts, pistachio, cashew, and hazelnuts.
Fatty Fish – Fatty fish are great sources of omega-3-fatty acids. Consuming fatty fish regularly can help balance omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acid ratio, thereby lowering inflammation (23).
Consume tuna, haddock, sardines, mackerel, salmon, carp, and hilsa.
Healthy Fats – Healthy fats are monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats. The more sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats you include in your diet, the better the chances of reduced inflammation in your body (24).
Natural Remedies – Natural remedies like green tea, turmeric, maritime pine bark, white willow bark, and boswellia serrata resin can help lower inflammation (25). Talk to your doctor before taking any of these.
These are the foods that you may include in your diet to reduce inflammation, especially the chronic one. Now, unless you avoid and/limit intake of certain foods, you will not see good results. Here’s a list of foods to avoid.
Veggies – Broccoli, cauliflower, beetroot, carrot, spinach, cabbage, bell pepper, scallion, cucumber, zucchini, eggplant, bok choy, and green beans. Fruits – Apple, banana, pineapple, papaya, peach, orange, grapefruit, and berries. Protein – Skinless chicken breast, fatty fish, mushroom, eggs, edamame, beans and lentils, soy, and tofu. Dairy – Yogurt, buttermilk, and milk (avoid milk if you are not lactose tolerant). Grains – Brown rice, red rice, black rice, broken wheat, and barley. Fats And Oils – Olive oil, avocado oil, rice bran oil, avocado, and ghee. Nuts And Seeds – Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts, macadamia, pepita, melon seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds. Beverages – Water, lime water, detox water, buttermilk, fresh fruit juice, and green tea. Herbs And Spices – Cilantro, dill, fennel, thyme, rosemary, mint, turmeric, ginger powder, nutmeg, and oregano.
Note: This diet is not for everyone. You can be on this diet after consulting your physician. An anti-inflammatory diet will help you in the following conditions.
Will The Anti-Inflammatory Diet Help You Lose Weight?
Yes, the anti-inflammatory diet can help you lose weight.
The foods included in this diet are rich in antioxidants that help scavenge the harmful oxygen radicals. This, in turn, reduces the stress levels in the body and prevents the risk of inflammation-induced weight gain.
What if you don’t eat meat and are a vegetarian? Can you still follow the anti-inflammatory diet? Scroll down to know.
Choosing foods that help reduce inflammation could be one of your life’s best decisions. I also recommend working out at least 3-4 hours per week. You will see your health improving, and you’ll not go back to your unhealthy eating habits and lifestyle. Take your doctor’s opinion and start your journey to good health today. Take care!