Dietitian-Approved Guide: Does An Anti-inflammatory Diet Work?
If you suffer from chronic disease, stress, or pain related to inflammation, we explain how following anti-inflammatory diet guidelines may help.
Anyone who has experienced painful knees or a sore neck knows that inflammation can hurt. This normal immune system response to injury and infection helps our body heal. But conditions like arthritis and heart disease can cause inflammation to become a chronic problem. Summit’s nutrition and wellness team explains how an anti-inflammatory diet may ease the effect of inflammation.
Evaluating the credibility of diet claims
Good nutrition is important for everyone. It’s true that a healthy diet provides the nutrients and energy our bodies need. But can a diet specifically target inflammation? This is a compelling idea for people concerned about nonsymptomatic inflammation caused by some chronic diseases and for people with inflammation-related pain. However, claims that certain foods have healing powers shouldn’t be taken at face value. You have to look at the evidence supporting the claim.
The facts about the anti-inflammatory diet
Let’s start with what we do know. Our body can develop inflammation as the result of disease, stress, or an unhealthy diet. So that part is true! Up to this point, research hasn’t identified a clear link between an anti-inflammatory diet and reduced inflammation. There’s no magic food guaranteed to cure inflammation. But we do know that nutrients in certain foods have anti-inflammatory properties. It’s possible that eating these foods may help relieve inflammation pain.
Foods featured the anti-inflammatory diet
An anti-inflammatory diet is rich in whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and lean protein. These foods contain nutrients believed to combat the inflammatory process. Two of these nutrients are particularly worth noting.
- Omega-3 fats. Salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, and herring are good sources of omega-3 fats, which help to regulate inflammation in the body. Other foods rich in omega-3 fats include soy-based foods, walnuts, pecans, and ground flaxseed.
- Colorful Fruit & Veggies. Bring on the colorful fruits and vegetables. Richly colored leafy greens, avocados, beets, sweet potatoes, and berries are rich in antioxidants. These nutrients can prevent, delay, or repair specific kinds of cell and tissue damage. Ginger and turmeric are believed to fight inflammation because they are rich in antioxidants. Other foods that deliver an antioxidant punch include lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and green tea.
Foods that may aggravate inflammation
Just as there are foods with properties that may reduce inflammation, there are also foods that may make inflammation worse. These foods include sugars, processed foods, and red meat. If you have painful inflammation symptoms like heat, redness, and swelling, you may benefit by reducing or eliminating these foods from your diet.
An anti-inflammatory diet alone is not enough
The Mediterranean diet gets high marks for nutritional value, and may help to ease inflammation pain. But remember that diet is only one of an array of tools available to address inflammation. A combination of healthy weight, regular exercise, stress reduction, and medication under a doctor’s supervision—along with an anti-inflammatory diet—is the best way to address chronic inflammation pain.
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