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Why You Should Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

Healthy Vegetables

Healthy Vegetables

Inflammatory Response

Swelling is an inflammatory response that occurs when our bodies suffer from an injury or from certain diseases. Swelling is the body's natural response to irritants and injury.

As an example, breaking a bone causes a biochemical response, which improves blood flow to the area. The body sends more white blood cells to ward off infection. Most of us have sprained an ankle or a wrist, so we know exactly what inflammation is as these injuries cause swell.

What to Eat on an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

You might be thinking at this point, what can I eat? If you have a chronic illness (particularly an autoimmune disease) or you just want to eat a healthier diet there are some good choices left. Changing the way you cook and eat may take time, but it can be done.

Anti-inflammatory foods include fish, particularly oily fish like salmon or trout that is high in omega vitamins is a great choice. Other foods include, lean poultry, seafood, legumes, nuts, seeds, fresh fruits, whole grains, and vegetables. Other foods that are considered to be anti-inflammatory choices include fresh fruits, berries, beans and legumes, soy products, spices and herbs, and whole grains.

These include barley, bulgur, wild rice, millet, quinoa, rye, wheat berries, buckwheat and whole wheat. Use canola or olive oil for salad dressings or cooking. Many spices like ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon are also very healthy. In fact, if you are inspired to eat an anti-inflammatory type diet, it is relatively simple.

Tips for Making This Diet Work

  • Consume generous portions of vegetables and fruits.
  • Use healthy fats, such as canola and olive oil.
  • Snack on nuts and seeds.
  • Eat fish regularly, at least once a week.
  • Consume small amounts of lean red meat.
  • Enjoy a glass of red wine occasionally.

It just may be that eating a healthier diet will give you more energy, since it should reduce inflammation and pain. In addition, the healthier diet may prevent a heart attack or a stroke. For those with an autoimmune disease, this type of diet can make a big difference in the your pain level.

Foods That Cause Inflammation

The Western diet tends to be high in beef, pork, dairy products, soft drinks and chips. These foods are thought to cause inflammation. Some clinicians believe people have food sensitivities (allergens) to particular foods, which also cause inflammation. The most common allergic foods are milk, dairy products, wheat, corn, eggs, beef, yeast, and soy.

Other processed foods may also be a problem, such as processed meats. Sandwich meats, wieners, sausages and many other foods contain nitrites, which are linked to chronic illnesses and inflammation. Foods with high sugar content cause oxidative stress in the cells, which also causes inflammation.

If you choose to follow an anti-inflammatory diet, the Mediterranean diet is thought to be a healthier choice. This diet includes fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains, plus it limits unhealthy fats.

Inflammation and Disease

Low-grade, systemic, and chronic inflammation are more severe. Medical conditions that are longer lasting can cause long-term body changes. Autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma are common types of a chronic medical conditions linked to inflammation.

Chronic Diseases Associated With Inflammation

  • Arthritis
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Strokes
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Bowel diseases, inflammatory bowel disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Gum disease
  • Some types of cancers

Common Irritants That Cause Inflammation

Irritants include smoking, excessive alcohol intake, high-fat diets or perhaps not receiving enough healthy nutrients. A great deal of research is ongoing to fully understand the role of chronic inflammation and how to control it.

Cholesterol lowering drugs are one way doctors try to control the risk of heart disease and strokes, but what about all the other diseases connected to inflammation?

How Are Pain and Inflammation Linked?

Pain from injuries, or chronic illness, is actually the result of an electric signal sent from the nerves to the brain. This triggers the damaged tissue to release chemicals (prostaglandins) that cause tissue swelling. Since they also amplify the electrical signal, the pain is also increased.

How Do I Know When to Take Action?

If you are suffering from any chronic disease, it may be very helpful to eat anti-inflammatory foods. This is not a cure, but they may decrease the inflammation. This decreases the pain as well. Searching the internet will show you many sites that list foods which irritate the inflammatory process and also foods that reduce inflammation in the body. Sugar and many processed foods have been shown to increase inflammation.

There is no such thing as an anti-inflammatory diet, but there are foods believed to decrease inflammation. The Paleo Diet and the KETO diet are thought to help with inflammation in your body even though they include all types of meat.

Fresh turmeric is also an anti-inflammatory spice. If we shun foods that we know cause increased inflammation and eat the healthier choices, it stands to reason that we will probably live a healthier life.

Daily Supplements That Reduce Inflammation

  • Fish oil supplements—the Omegas
  • Vitamin C 200 mg. daily
  • Vitamin 400 IU
  • Selenium 200 micrograms (organic)
  • Vitamin D
  • Turmeric
  • Mixed Carotenoids 10,000—15,000 IU
  • Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa) may improve rheumatoid arthritis pain.
  • Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) is used extensively in Europe for osteoarthritic pain.
  • Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) has several functions that include anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) protects the liver.

Anti-Inflammatory Medications

Nonsteroidial anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are often prescribed for chronic inflammation. Greater than 30 million Americans use these medications for arthritis, sprains, headaches, and many other discomforts. They reduce swelling and lower fevers.

Some of the most common anti-inflammatory drugs are aspirin, ibuprofen, Aleve, and Naprosyn. These medications are irritating to the stomach, so they are not really a long-term solution. They should be taken with food.

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.

Comments

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 05, 2020:

Hi Peggy,

People have tried so many things to reduce the pain from the pain of arthritis. I appreciate your comments.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 04, 2020:

Hi Pamela,

An anti-inflammatory diet is suitable for almost anyone. I'll have to look into Cat's Claw and Devil's Claw. I had not heard of using that to combat arthritis. Thanks! I do find Tumeric to be of help.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 02, 2020:

Hi Rajan,

You have posted so many healthy recipes that I think you already eat a healthy diet and you are helping others with your recipes. I appreciate your comments.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 01, 2020:

Great information. Eating lots of vegetables and fruits is the need to the hour now with the coronavirus upon us. They boost immunity as well. Thank for sharing.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 01, 2020:

Hi Sherry, Thank you so much for your comments. I obviously agree that we are what we eat. Stay healthy during this pandemic!

drbj and sherry from south Florida on April 01, 2020:

Your article was Superfine! We definitely are what we eat! We all need to eat to live and not live to eat!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on January 07, 2020:

Hi Umesh, Your remarks are so true and I appreciate them.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on January 07, 2020:

Very useful article. Healthy eating is the only way to protect the body from inflammation. Thanks for posting.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on November 20, 2013:

Mekenzie, Thank you for posting it on your page. I looked at your FB page right after I read your last comment and was impressed. I love the Christian atmosphere and all the unique articles. Again, thank you so much for posting my hub. God Bless.

Susan Ream from Michigan on November 20, 2013:

Pamela, the FB page Mekenzie's World can be found on my profile page link to Facebook. Thanks - your article is up and people are viewing it on my page. Hopefully they are clicking over to your article and you see the results in your traffic. Have a great day my friend! :)

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on November 20, 2013:

Mekenzie, Learning to eat to live is indeed the goal, but as you said not always easy. I am going to check out your webpage as I don't think I've seen it before. Thanks so much for the comments and the share.

Susan Ream from Michigan on November 19, 2013:

Hi Pamela, Great informational hub. I try to stear clear of foods that cause inflammation. Sugar is my worst enemy causing pain and exhaustion soon after eating ... Ugh!

Learning to eat to live rather than live to eat .. not so much fun but it is treating the body well and has long term benefits.

Voted Up, shared here and on my FB Mekenzie's World page +++ :)

Thanks for another great health hub!

Mekenzie

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on November 19, 2013:

Audrey, I'm glad you found the hub useful and I appreciate your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on November 19, 2013:

Jo, If you have an immune system disease particularly, the diet is so important. Thanks for your comments.

Audrey Howitt from California on November 19, 2013:

So very useful! Thank you!

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on November 19, 2013:

I must have missed this one, very informative....important information we need to take on board. Excellent article.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on November 19, 2013:

Jackie, Your statement is so true and many people are just uninformed, yet unhealthy. Thanks for your comments and the share.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on November 19, 2013:

My kind of hub Pamela and we can't have too many reminded people they could be their own worst enemy by what they put in their stomachs. Voted up and sharing!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 26, 2013:

Anginwu, It has been helpful for me and I hope for you. I appreciate your comments.

anglnwu on September 25, 2013:

Great information. Glad there are many types of foods to eat to keep inflammation away. Taken note of that list. Thanks for sharing and rated up.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 02, 2013:

Alecia, I hope this new information will help you feel better. Thank you for your comments.

Alecia Murphy from Wilmington, North Carolina on September 01, 2013:

This information is great! I never really know what causes inflammation but do know how much it affects everyday life. Glad to have some pointers now as to what may trigger and/or contribute to it!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 01, 2013:

Sheila, I am so glad this hub was helpful for your and I appreciate your comments.

Sheila from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State on August 31, 2013:

I am so glad I found this Hub - I have been curious about this topic lately and I haven't had time to research - thank you for doing the research for me! Great information.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 31, 2013:

Vellur, I appreciate your comments and the share.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 31, 2013:

Mary, My husband had a stroke also and we have also been going through diet changes for the better. I wish you both better health in the future. Thanks for your comments.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on August 30, 2013:

Great information and valuable tips to lead a healthy life. Thank you for sharing. Voted up.

Mary Craig from New York on August 30, 2013:

Great information Pamela. I too am a Celiac on a restricted diet but even more importantly my husband just had a mini stroke. Lots of changes to be made to his diet now too.

We can't be reminded enough how important our diet is!

Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting, and shared.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 28, 2013:

Martha, I hope this diet helps your pain. Thanks so much for your comments.

Martha A. Cheves on August 28, 2013:

I have back problems as well as ulcers so I'm limited as to what I can used to help the back pain. This gives me hope. Thank you.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 24, 2013:

Dianna, It is great that you are already eating in such a healthy way and I think that means you will live a long healthy life. Thanks so much for your comments.

Dianna Mendez on August 24, 2013:

My diet consists of many of the foods you mention here and it may be why I have no digestion problems and inflammation. Thank you for the information. I know those of us who are reaching our golden years would benefit from following your advice. Voted up++ because it well deserves it!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 24, 2013:

Sue, My step-daughter had part of her thyroid removed, and it had a tiny amount of cancer. She has had a difficutl time controlling all the effects of her thyroid problem, and I am glad she has a good doctor. It does not sound like she would do well if she was in England. It sounds like you are staying informed, so at least you can make choices about food if you think it will help. Do they check you blood level to see if you are on the right dosage? I hope so. I hope the hub helps, but I will keep in touch for sure.

Susan Bailey from South Yorkshire, UK on August 24, 2013:

It's not the doctors Pamela. Here in the UK they aren't that well informed about what is good for hypothyroidism and what is not. They simply pop you a synthetic thyroid hormone pill and that is it! There is much much more to it than that according thyroid website 'experts'. I will continue to have my bit of chocolate like you and aim for happiness with a bit of good health thrown in. Good hub! I'm following you so keep in touch..

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 24, 2013:

Sue, You have really have had a bad time. I relate to your feelings very well. I have had multiple health problems and when I am frustrated I want that bite of chocolate or whatever sounds good. In my first marriage I was abused and recovery has taken a long time. I ate food for the wrong reasons, but overtime I have managed to get help. I hope things get better for you. I imagine the doctor's are right about the diet, but I also understand how you feel. I wish you the best. I would like to keep in touch with you.

Susan Bailey from South Yorkshire, UK on August 24, 2013:

According to some 'experts' I should eat a gluten free, alkaline, anti-inflammatory diet as I have hashimoto' s and am hypothyroid. I also have type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. I do sometimes wonder what would be left to eat if I followed all the advice! With multiple health conditions to contend with; including breast cancer 3 years ago and a stressful family life, eating appetizing food and things I enjoy feels like my only pleasure.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 24, 2013:

drbj, It seems we hear more about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet all the time. It seems to be primarily an anti-inflammatory diet also. I appreciate your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 24, 2013:

Elisha, I am so glad to hear that this diet change helped you to that degree. I am moving in the right direction, but comments like your really make me know I need to embrace this diet fully. Thank you so much.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on August 23, 2013:

From your description of anti-inflammatory foods, Pamela, it appears that the Mediterranean diet would be a good choice for those wishing to reduce inflammation. Thanks for all this important information.

Elisha Jachetti on August 23, 2013:

Thanks for this. I had asthma and was able to manage my symptoms and get off medication by changing my diet and eating more anti-inflammatory foods. I'm happy to see you sharing and spreading this knowledge.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 23, 2013:

Alcia, I think doctors are realizing that more also. Thanks for your comments.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 23, 2013:

Thanks for sharing the useful information, Pamela. Techniques for reducing inflammation are important!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 22, 2013:

Audry. It sure sound like you are doing all the healthy things with your diet. I have been moving in that direction to see if it will help my overall health. I was a vegan for a while but found it difficult to adhere to that diet, especially when I had two others to cook for in the house. Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

CraftytotheCore on August 22, 2013:

Hi Pamela! I suffer from arthritis pain in my neck. I also have asthma. I take about 10 different vitamins a day after suffering from relentless health issues for the past two years. Cod Fish Oil (I'm allergic to salmon unfortunately) is one of the vitamins I have found that really works well. I do take alieve to get me through the day, otherwise it's too painful to sit at a computer, but the vitamins really do help.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on August 22, 2013:

This hub is one of my favorites to be bookmarked and shared. Excellent video with Dr. Weil. I've followed him for years. I drink ginger tea every day for chronic inflammation and it does wonders. I also take milk thistle and am a vegetarian so avoid red meat, chicken etc. I stick with salmon.

Thanks Pamela for this helpful and well written hub. Voted up and across and pinning. ~ Audrey

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 22, 2013:

JamaGenee, It is amazing that she had such an immediate reaction to the diet change. I eat very little bread and red meat, but I am beginning to thiink I need to make more changes in my diet. Thanks so much for your comments.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on August 22, 2013:

A friend decided to go on a gluten-free diet 3 weeks ago and was quite surprised when the aches and pains of arthritis (an inflammatory condition) completely disappeared practically overnight. She eliminated all bread, cakes, cookies, pasta AND all processed foods, which still leaves plenty of things to eat.

I've long believed that eating "healthy" is more beneficial than any pill BigPharma likes to hand out like candy - for conditions that are most likely food-related! - and this hub joins a growing list of articles supporting that theory. Thanks!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 21, 2013:

LLambie, I am glad you found this hub helpful, and I appreciate your comments.

Lauren from UK on August 21, 2013:

Really interesting. I'd kind of heard about anti-inflammatory diets before but didn't really know too much about it. This was a useful explanation.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 20, 2013:

Paula, I believe you are right and that is a healthy choice. Thanks for sharing that information and your other comments.

Faith, I found that I was doing better than I tought also. I appreciate your comments.

Ruby, Celiac disease certainly requires a diet change and I hope you are feeling better now. My brother has that disease also, but he still has bad days. I'm not sure he always follows the diet as well as he should. Thanks for your comments.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on August 20, 2013:

Very important information Pam. Since finally finding out i had celiac disease, i have drastically changed my diet and incorporate many of your suggestions daily. Thank you for sharing again......

Faith Reaper from southern USA on August 20, 2013:

Very comprehensive hub here. I was surprised to see that we eat the anti-inflammatory foods for the most part!!!

Excellent hub.

Voted up ++ and sharing

God bless, Faith Reaper

Suzie from Carson City on August 20, 2013:

Pam....Excellent topic to write about! There is much truth to this info. Lately I have looked further into how vital it is to alkalize the body. So many (nearly all) bacteria and viruses, which cause "inflammation," simply cannot survive in an alkaline environment.

I think you would seriously appreciate this book: "The pH Miracle," balance your diet, reclaim your health. Robert O. Young, Ph.D and Shelley Reford Young......Up & sharing

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 20, 2013:

Curiad, Thank you so much for your comments.

Curiad on August 19, 2013:

Excellent information Pamela, thank you for sharing this here!

Mark

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 19, 2013:

Billy, I;ve reached that age also. If it tastes good spit it out! Thanks for your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 19, 2013:

epbooks, That is certainly a better choice. I appreciate your comments.

Elizabeth Parker from Las Vegas, NV on August 19, 2013:

Great information! I'd much rather eat a healthier food than take NSAIDs for pain if I could. Thanks for posting!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 19, 2013:

Very important information, Pamela! I've reached the age where I really need to follow your advice. :)

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