Katy researches healthy foods to build the best meal plans for her family using science-backed studies.
Anyone looking to combat inflammation should take a good look at their diet. The food we eat has the potential to either decrease inflammation or make the situation worse.
In a healthy person, inflammation occurs naturally to fight diseases and infections. But, when our lives are filled with stress, pollutants, and over-processed foods, it results in an unhealthy amount of inflammation.
Stress, pollution, and a poor diet cause chronic inflammation, which leads to more health problems. One way to break the cycle is to adhere to an anti-inflammatory meal plan to give your body the best chance to be healthy.
Read on to learn how to use foods to control the amount of inflammation your body experiences.
Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plan
Because eating a variety of foods is so important, following a strict meal plan to decrease inflammation is actually counter-productive. If you want your diet to be effective, it should include many different vegetables, healthy carbs, and different sources of fiber and nutrients.
Below is an example of how to build meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner that support an anti-inflammatory diet.
- Oatmeal with almonds
- Greek yogurt with blueberries or raspberries
- Leafy green salad
- Lentil soup
- Tuna sandwich on wheat
- Salmon with steamed broccoli
- Chicken (cooked in olive oil and garlic) with sweet potatoes
Foods That Cause Inflammation
There are many other causes of inflammation, but often it's the food we eat that makes it worse. Processed and sugary foods are on the top of this list. These foods put extra stress on your body, causing inflammation.
Eating sugar is a common contributor to inflammation. If you’re trying to combat this issue, it’s actually one of the worst foods you can eat.
Taking in some natural sugars from fruits and vegetables is fine, but meals and snacks with a lot of added sugar will make inflammation worse. When your body tries to digest sugar, it releases advanced glycation end products and cytokines, both of which cause inflammation immediately. Diets with a lot of sugar also raise body fat and bad cholesterol, which are linked to increased inflammation.
Take a good look at your sugar intake. It’s a hard habit to kick, but it will have a big impact on your body. Start by avoiding simple sugars that cause your blood sugar to spike.
Alcohol is a toxin that your body needs to filter out. Consume too much of it and you force your system to work overtime. How much is too much? When you’re following a strict cleansing diet, cut out alcohol completely to let your body recover. When you do add it back in, don’t drink more than one or two drinks per day. Any more will undo all the hard work you’re doing in other parts of your diet.
Fats and Oils
Unless you’re a health guru, it can be hard to remember which fats and oils are good for you and which are bad. If you’re looking to reduce inflammation in your diet, just remember that vegetable oil and trans fats are the worst for you! Artificial trans fats and vegetable oils are correlated with inflammation. Realize that this is only a correlation. That means that doctors can’t determine why some foods cause inflammation. But, they know that a diet with trans fats and bad oils will cause this problem to get worse.
Foods That Reduce Inflammation
Now that we know what to avoid eating, let's look at what can we eat. The most effective diet approach to stopping inflammation is to eat wholesome foods and to cut out extra sugar and processed foods. But there are a few special foods that are effective as anti-inflammatories by themselves.
Turmeric root is ground into a powder and used as a spice. It's common in Indian food and you can add it to your meals as an anti-inflammatory spice.
In addition to adding it to foods, you can take turmeric in capsules. That helps to increase your turmeric intake, especially if you don't like the taste. Be cautious, it can cause an upset stomach at first. Make sure you ease into taking it.
Ginger is another root that works as an anti-inflammatory. Find fresh ginger in the produce section, dice or shred it, and then add as a spice to any dish. It’s easy to incorporate into teas and drinks. Just make sure you’re not also adding sugar!
Fatty fish like salmon, sardines and tuna have omega-3s that are known for stopping inflammation.
Anyone who has tried to follow a diet before can understand the need for good snacks. Changing your diet usually means changing your lifestyle to invest more time in meal prep. But, when you don't have time to cook a whole meal, it really helps to have some snacks on hand that fight inflammation.
Try these snack ideas:
- Nuts (especially walnuts and almonds)
- Berries (blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are the best)
- Goat Cheese
Make sure the snacks you buy don't have any added sugar. Also, check the ingredient list for "partially hydrogenated" ingredients, so you can avoid artificial trans fats.
Who Should Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?
Anyone can benefit from following an anti-inflammatory diet. The meal plan above contains healthy foods that any nutritionist would suggest. People suffering from inflammation related diseases will benefit the most from this kind of diet. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, an anti-inflammatory diet should be part of your care plan to reduce symptoms.
- Granger, D. Neil; Senchenkova, Elena. 2010. "Leukocyte–Endothelial Cell Adhesion". Inflammation and the Microcirculation. Integrated Systems Physiology—From Cell to Function. Morgan & Claypool Life Sciences
- Goldfine, Allison B.; Shoelson, Steven E. 2017. "Therapeutic approaches targeting inflammation for diabetes and associated cardiovascular risk." Journal of Clinical Investigation. 83–93
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2019 Katy Medium
Katy Medium (author) from Denver, CO on March 05, 2019:
Peggy, thanks for reading! I agree, an anti-inflammatory diet is a pretty healthy diet for anyone. From all my research I think that's because inflammation happens when our bodies are unhealthy, so it makes sense that eating only good foods is linked to lower inflammation.
Of course eating healthy all the time is easier said than done!
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 05, 2019:
These appear to be all good suggestions for healthy eating for just about anyone. Thanks for writing this.