Anti-Inflammatory Diet - Foods and Inflammation

By Shereen Jegtvig

Can the Foods You Eat Make a Difference in Chronic Pain?

Change Your Diet to an Anti-inflammatory Diet

Start by avoiding sugars, processed foods, and junk food whenever possible. Choose fresh foods including anti-inflammatory foods like fruits and vegetables.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods: Essential Fatty Acids, Fats, and Oils
Adding anti-inflammatory foods that contain the right type of fats in your diet will impact pain and inflammation in a positive way. Omega-3 essential fatty acids are found in cold water oily fish, walnuts, flax and pumpkin seeds and will help to reduce inflammation. Adding omega 3 essential fatty acid supplements with flax oil or fish oil capsules may also help reduce inflammation, just be sure to speak with a doctor or nutritionist before taking larger, therapeutic doses of any supplements

Olive oil is another type of oil that won't promote inflammation. In fact, olive oil has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and will help to reduce pain. Other healthy oils include canola oil, grapeseed oil, and walnut oil.

Protein
Protein is needed to build healthy body tissues. Good protein choices include lean poultry, fish and seafood, nuts, legumes and seeds. Red meats may trigger inflammation, so cut back on fatty red meats. When you do eat red meat, choose grass-fed, low fat bison, venison and other game meats. Soybeans, tofu, and soy milk are three great sources of soy proteins that may help to reduce your pain and inflammation.

Carbohydrates and Fiber
Stay away from the starchier carbohydrates like pastas and white breads and you should avoid sugar too. Choose green leafy vegetables, green and brightly colored vegetables and lots of fresh whole fruits. Berries are a great choice, especially blueberries and strawberries that are packed with anti-inflammatory phytochemicals and anti-oxidants. Apples and red onions are great sources of quercetin, which has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Green vegetables and whole fruits are also important as sources of dietary fiber. Oats and oatmeal contain beneficial fiber too.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet Tips:Over all, when you are choosing anti-inflammatory foods to help reduce your inflammation and pain, choose fresh foods instead of heavily processed foods. Here are some tips:

  • Breakfast could be oatmeal served with fresh berries and walnuts, with a cup of soy milk.
  • Snack on whole fruits, nuts, seeds, and fresh vegetables throughout the day instead of cookies and candy.
  • Eat more fish and less fatty red meat.
  • Stay away from deep fried foods and bake or stir fry your meals instead.
  • Choose green, orange, and yellow vegetables for your side dishes.
  • Drink plenty of water, fresh 100% juices, herbal teas, and green tea.

 

These are some of the best anti-inflammatory foods, whose anti-inflammatory powers derive from their high omega-3 (fish) or antioxidant (plant foods and salmon) content:

 

  • FISH: Wild Salmon*, Sablefish, Mackerel, Herring, Sardines
  • VEGETABLES: Onions, Garlic, Chives, Leeks, Greens (spinach, chard, collards, broccoli, kale), Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, Green Beans, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Lettuces
  • BEANS, NUTS, SEEDS (all types)
  • FRUITS: Berries (especially Blueberries and Raspberries), Capers
  • SPICES: Ginger**, Turmeric**, Cinnamon, Clove
  • HERBS: Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Parsley, Cilantro, Fennel, Mint, Dill, Tarragon
  • BEVERAGES: Green tea, White tea, Black tea, Red wine, Cocoa (with minimal sugar), Pomegranate juice
  • DARK CHOCOLATE (containing at least 70 percent cocoa solids; enjoy sparingly)

 

*Salmon offers a double anti-inflammatory punch, as it is high in both omega-3s and the uniquely potent antioxidant/ anti-inflammatory red pigment called astaxanthin (which it gets from eating zooplankton). Sockeye are highest in astaxanthin.

**Ginger and turmeric are extraordinarily potent anti-inflammatories.  They rival the anti-inflammatory potency of drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen in clinical trials, but produce none of those drugs’ adverse side effects. They also hold promise as anti-cancer agents.