Have you heard of an anti-inflammatory diet? It seems like everyone is talking about it lately. But what exactly are anti-inflammatory foods? And should you include them in your diet?
This article will discuss what inflammation is, who should follow an anti-inflammatory diet, and I’ll also provide you with a free anti-inflammatory foods list PDF.
Hi, I’m Alyssa, a registered dietitian who specializes in PCOS and women’s health.
To determine if eating an anti-inflammatory diet is a good idea, we should probably discuss what inflammation is.
There are two types of inflammation: acute inflammation and chronic inflammation.
Acute inflammation is a necessary function for our body’s survival; it occurs as a result of an injury within the body, such as a bee sting or a cut on your finger.
In this situation, your immune system kicks into gear and your body sends inflammatory cells to fight foreign invaders and initiate the healing process. This type of inflammatory response resolves as the injury heals.
On the other hand, chronic inflammation is when the body continues to be in this heightened state even when there is no injury or external danger.
Chronic inflammation has been identified in many types of chronic conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease to name a few (1, 2).
Signs of Chronic Inflammation:
So now that we’ve established what inflammation is and what the symptoms of inflammation are, you may be wondering how you can fight inflammation.
The good news is that a healthy diet and lifestyle changes can play a significant role in lowering levels of inflammation.
Let’s talk about who could benefit from an anti-inflammatory diet.
If you’re wondering if you should actually be eating anti-inflammatory foods, the answer is probably yes. For the most part, just about everyone can benefit from including more anti-inflammatory foods.
For those who have any sort of inflammatory condition, such as arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, heart disease, asthma, or even depression, including anti-inflammatory foods will absolutely be a good thing.
If you have PCOS, including anti-inflammatory foods is especially important since PCOS is known to include low grade chronic inflammation.
Even if you do not currently have any sort of inflammatory condition, a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods may reduce your risk of developing a chronic disease such as type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease in the future.
There isn’t a clear definition of what an anti-inflammatory diet is and what it’s not. There is a general consensus that it should include healthy foods that have anti-inflammatory properties such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, and good sources of healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, fatty fish, and olive oil. The Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet are two popular diets that do a good job of including plenty of these anti-inflammatory foods.
In general, whole foods or unprocessed foods are typically the most anti-inflammatory food choices. These foods usually contain more health benefits and have a higher amount of antioxidants.
Antioxidants are molecules that reduce harmful free radicals, which are compounds that can contribute to oxidative stress and inflammation. Some examples of nutrients that are also antioxidants are vitamin C, vitamin E, copper, selenium, zinc and omega 3 fatty acids (3)
All fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, fatty fish, seafood, and most oils will have some anti-inflammatory properties. However, specific foods in each of these categories, which are marked below, will have higher levels of antioxidants per serving.
Click here for a downloadable PDF of your anti inflammatory food list. Keep in mind that this is a pretty comprehensive list, however, it’s not an exhaustive list.
Get your copy of this anti-inflammatory foods list PDF here.
It’s important to note that including any of these foods on occasion is not going to immediately cause your body to be inflamed. There isn’t one particular food that will make you healthy, just like one particular food will not make you unhealthy. Your overall diet pattern is what’s most important.
That said, research has shown that certain foods, when eaten in large amounts frequently, can contribute to inflammation.
Inflammatory Foods List to Avoid:
Breakfast – Berry Avocado Smoothie
Lunch – Fall Kale Salad with a protein source such as salmon
Dinner – Homemade Sweetgreen Crispy Rice Bowl
Snacks – Apples with PB Yogurt Dip, roasted chickpeas, trail mix, or veggies with hummus
For more anti-inflammatory meal plans, be sure to also check out the 7 day PCOS Diet Plan. This meal plan does cater towards those with the hormonal disorder PCOS, however, all meals are anti-inflammatory and designed to balance your blood sugars, which can also help lower inflammation.
A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods is beneficial for everyone and can improve your overall health. It may be especially beneficial for those who have inflammatory conditions such as PCOS, arthritis, asthma, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, Alzheimer’s dementia, or depression.
Some foods, when eaten in high amounts, may have inflammatory effects on us. Some of these foods include ultra-processed foods, processed meats, refined grains, added sugars, and saturated fats. Therefore, these types of foods should be limited or avoided when following an anti-inflammatory diet.
Anti inflammatory foods include a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, nuts, seeds, legumes, spices, and oils. If you haven’t already, be sure to get your printable anti inflammatory foods list PDF here.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and not intended to replace medical advice. Always consult with your own registered dietitian or healthcare provider for personalized diet advice.
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