How An Anti-Inflammatory Diet Can Improve Your Health

How An Anti-Inflammatory Diet Can Improve Your Health

The more we learn about inflammation, the more we understand that it plays a role in most (if not all) of the health problems we experience. From the common cold to cancer, inflammation is often a root cause of illness.

At My Pure MD, we specialize in a holistic approach to health, and we understand that the choices we make — the food we eat, the amount of exercise we get, how well we manage our stress — can have a big impact on our wellness.

That’s why, when we’re working with patients looking to manage conditions like thyroid disease or autoimmune disorders, we always recommend following an anti-inflammatory diet. When you change the way you eat to minimize inflammation, you can often reduce symptoms of illness.

What Is Inflammation?

Inflammation is the body’s way of responding to trauma or harmful organisms (like disease-causing pathogens).[1] When you trip and sprain your ankle, for example, your body sends out a signal that causes swelling in the injured area, helping to stabilize and protect it. This process is called the inflammatory response.

But when the inflammatory response is sustained over a long period of time, it becomes chronic instead of acute. And rather than helping the body, chronic inflammation can cause health problems like arthritis, asthma, heart disease, and many more.[1]

How Can An Anti-Inflammatory Diet Improve Health?

The average American consumes a number of foods that are known to trigger and/or worsen inflammation. These include:

  • Sugar
  • Trans fats and saturated fat
  • Refined carbohydrates like white bread and pasta
  • Gluten
  • Alcohol

To reduce the amount of inflammation in your body, cutting down on or eliminating these inflammatory foods is an important first step.

Fortunately, nature has provided us with a variety of vegetables, fruits, and other foods that can lower inflammation. Here are some of the most powerfully anti-inflammatory foods.

  • Salmon

Cold-water fish like salmon and mackerel contain omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to reduce inflammation.

  • Broccoli

Broccoli and other vegetables in the Brassica family (like kale and cabbage) contain sulforaphane, a compound that acts as an antioxidant to reduce levels of inflammatory compounds in the body.[2]

  • Green tea

This beverage owes many of its anti-inflammatory properties to polyphenols like ECGC that appear to have anti-inflammatory effects.[3]

  • Olive oil

A key component of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is rich in “good” fats like monounsaturated oleic acid that have been shown to reduce inflammation.

  • Almonds

Almonds and other nuts are another good source of anti-inflammatory “good” fat. They’re also high in fiber and protein, making them a healthy and nutritious snack.

  • Berries

Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, and other berries are rich in anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant that reduces inflammation.

Many common culinary herbs and spices also have strong anti-inflammatory effects. Turmeric, the bright yellow spice that is often used to flavor Indian curries, has been shown to reduce inflammation thanks to an active constituent called circumin.

In one study involving patients with osteoarthritis in one or both knees, participants who took a turmeric formulation showed a 58 percent reduction in overall pain and stiffness compared to controls after 90 days. They were also able to reduce their need for over-the-counter analgesics like ibuprofen by 63 percent compared to patients receiving conventional medical therapy alone.[4]

Both cinnamon and ginger also contain potent anti-inflammatory compounds. Incorporating more of these spices into your cooking and baking is an easy (and tasty) way to reduce inflammation in your body.

Looking for another simple way to eat more anti-inflammatory foods? Make yourself a smoothie like this vegan, gluten-free one adapted from FitLiving Eats.

Blueberry Almond Ginger Smoothie

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup frozen chopped spinach or kale
  • 1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger (or ½ teaspoon ground ginger)
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, oat milk, or soy milk

Instructions

Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Designing an Anti-Inflammatory Eating Plan

When it comes to reducing inflammation, it can be hard to know which foods to eat and which to avoid. And when you’re busy, the idea of planning and preparing anti-inflammatory meals can be daunting. Who has the time?

We do. My colleagues and I at My Pure MD are here to work with you in creating a nutrition plan that can help you reduce inflammation. We can look at the way you currently eat and guide you in making anti-inflammatory choices that may reduce symptoms of any health conditions you’re dealing with — and lower your risk of developing new ones.

References

1. Freire MO, Van Dyke TE. Natural resolution of inflammation. Periodontol 2000. 2013;63(1):149–164.

2. Guerrero-Beltrán, et al. Protective effect of sulforaphane against oxidative stress: recent advances. Exp Toxicol Pathol. 2012 Jul;64(5):503-8. doi: 10.1016/j.etp.2010.11.005. Epub 2010 Dec 3.

3. Tipoe GL, et al. Green tea polyphenols as an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agent for cardiovascular protection. Cardiovasc Hematol Disord Drug Targets. 2007 Jun;7(2):135-44.

4. Belcaro G, et al. Product-evaluation registry of Meriva®, curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex, for the complementary management of osteoarthritis. PanMinerva Med. 2010;52 (Suppl. 1 to No. 1):55-62.

April 9, 2020