The Anti-Inflammatory Diet: How to reduce chronic illnesses with your diet. As much as I’m against the word diet, the Anti-Inflammatory Diet is an eating plan to improve the body’s immune system and reduce the risk of many major diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s have been linked to chronic inflammation.

Table of Contents

What does Inflammatory mean?

Your body protects itself from infection, illness or injury by increasing its production of white blood cells, immune cells, and substances that help fight infection. This inflammatory response is the body’s protective mechanism or otherwise known as the body’s immune system..

Short-term or acute signs of inflammation include redness, pain, heat, and swelling. Like what you might expect from a burn, a sprain or a strain and can be treated by taking paracetamol, ibuprofen or the rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE) method.

diseases caused by chronic inflammation

On the other hand, long-term inflammation often occurs inside your body without any noticeable symptoms. This type of inflammation can contribute to illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease, and cancer.

Chronic inflammation can also occur when people are obese or under stress.

Lifestyle factors like poor food choices, including foods high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, processed and packaged foods, fatty foods in particular foods containing trans fat, excessive alcohol, processed meats, and a sedentary lifestyle are all contributing factors to the body’s chronic inflammation response.

How do you reduce long term inflammation?

Research has found that eating anti-inflammatory foods can actually reduce inflammation in your body.

“”Many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects.”

Dr. Frank Hu – Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology, the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health

Increasing your intake of anti-inflammatory foods, exercising more, reducing your intake of processed foods, foods high in sugar and fats, stopping smoking and reducing your alcohol intake are all ways to reduce inflammation in the body.

What foods reduce inflammation?

Simply eating fewer inflammatory foods and more anti-inflammatory foods will improve your overall health.

Eating whole, nutrient rich foods will provide a healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat at each meal. Also be sure to meet your body’s needs for vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water.

Foods to Eat

Dr Andrew Weil MD, a Harvard University trained doctor and healthy living advocate, created the Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid which shows which foods you should eat little of and which you should eat more of to reduce inflammation.

Dr Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid

Healthy sweets: Dark chocolate, dried fruit, fruit sorbet.

Red wine: 1 to 2 glasses daily. Red wine has beneficial anti-oxidants. If you don’t drink alcohol, there’s no reason to start.

Supplements: High quality multivitamin/multimineral that includes key antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, mixed carotenoids, and selenium); coenzyme Q10; 2 to 3 grams of a molecularly distilled fish oil; 2,000 IU of vitamin D3.

Tea: 2 to 4 cups daily of white, green or oolong teas.

Healthy herbs and spices: Turmeric, curry powder (which contains turmeric), ginger and garlic (dried and fresh), chili peppers, basil, cinnamon, rosemary, thyme.

Other sources of protein: High-quality natural cheese and yogurt, organic, omega-3 enriched eggs, skinless poultry, grass-finished lean meats

Cooked Asian Mushrooms: Shiitake, enokitake, maitake, oyster mushrooms (and wild mushrooms if available).

Whole soy foods: Tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy nuts, soymilk.

Fish and shell fish: Wild Alaskan salmon (especially sockeye), herring, sardines, and black cod (sablefish).

Healthy fats: Extra-virgin olive oil, nuts (especially walnuts), avocados, and seeds, including hemp seeds and freshly ground flaxseed.

Whole and cracked grains: Brown rice, basmati rice, wild rice, buckwheat groats, barley, quinoa, steel-cut oats.

Pasta: Organic pasta, rice noodles, bean-thread noodles, and part whole-wheat and buckwheat noodles like Japanese udon and soba cooked al dente.

Beans and legumes: Anasazi (adzuki and black), as well as chickpeas, black-eyed peas, and lentils.

Vegetables: Lightly cooked dark leafy greens (spinach, collard greens, kale, Swiss chard), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy and cauliflower), carrots, beets, onions, peas, squashes, sea vegetables and washed raw salad greens.

Fruits: Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, oranges, pink grapefruit, red grapes, plums, pomegranates, blackberries, cherries, apples, and pears.

Water: Drink pure water, or drinks that are mostly water (tea, very diluted fruit juice, sparkling water with lemon) throughout the day.

Foods to Avoid

The following foods should be reduced or eliminated completely.

Sugary beverages: Sugar-sweetened drinks and fruit juices

Refined carbs: White bread, white pasta, etc.

Desserts: Cookies, candy, cake, and ice cream

Processed meat: Hot dogs, bologna, sausages, etc.

Processed snack foods: Crackers, chips, and pretzels

Certain oils: Processed seed and vegetable oils like soybean and corn oil

Trans fats: Foods with partially hydrogenated ingredients

Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption

What is a good anti-inflammatory diet plan?

Once you decide to follow an anti-inflammatory diet plan, it can be hard to know exactly what to eat and how much of everything you need to eat for each meal.

Also, you might want to know what are good examples of recipes, what snacks to eat and meals to make that are tasty and the whole family will like.

That’s why I created the Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plan. The meal plan also includes a Shopping List plus recipes including the nutritional information for each recipe. The recipes also include ideas for substitutes or alternatives.

Examples of recipes include Sweet Cherry Steel Cut Oats, Roasted Brussel Sprouts Caesar Salad, Pistachio Crusted Salmon and Strawberry Ice Cream.

Conclusion

Eating a diet high in anti-oxidants or anti-inflammatory foods and following a sensible exercise regime will reduce your body’s need to go into protective model or having to activate the immune system. Long term inflammation can contribute to major health issues like diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease and cancer. This type of eating plan will improve your overall health.

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