Anti-Inflammatory Diet: To Eat or Not to Eat
by Vickie Chin on Apr 13, 2023
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to potential threats, such as injuries or infections.
In your gut and digestive system, inflammation can be caused by the very foods you choose to eat.
Anti-inflammatory diets have been a hot topic in the health and wellness industry for years now — but how many of us truly know the importance of reducing our body’s inflammatory response?
If left unaddressed, recurring inflammation can lead to the development of various diseases, including more serious conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Moreover, chronic inflammation can also play a significant role in worsening the symptoms of obesity.
Today, we are discussing what an anti-inflammatory diet is and what key foods to add to your diet to help reduce inflammation and improve your body’s overall health.
Keep reading to learn about seven excellent anti-inflammatory foods, as well as five foods to avoid.
7 Great Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Eat
If you struggle with inflammation in your gut and digestive system, the key is to know what foods can help reduce this inflammation and keep your body feeling great.
Here are seven anti-inflammatory foods to consider adding to your diet:
Berries — such as strawberries, blueberries, and goji berries — are fruits without pits that often have a small and rounded shape. These fruits are widely loved, as they make an excellent healthy snack, as well as being a fantastic addition to recipes for smoothies, fruit bowls, yogurt, cereal, and other meals. Dried fruits like blueberries and raspberries are ideal snacking options for busy people who are trying to run a healthy lifestyle.
A 2021 study reveals that berries have high levels of bioactive compounds that reduce inflammation.
Specifically, the study suggests that berries are particularly helpful for treating obesity-induced inflammation, a condition that can lead to an increased risk of other chronic diseases.
2. Fatty Fish
Fish can be a great source of healthy fats, which can help reduce inflammation in people considered at risk for more serious health conditions.
According to a 2021 study, oily fish provides a key nutrient called long-chain n-3 fatty acids (LCn3). The study shows that diets rich in LCn3 helped improve inflammation in people who have a high risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Among the most popular types of fatty fish are salmon, sardines, and tuna.
3. Green Tea and Matcha
Green tea and organic matcha are well-known around the world for their healing properties. Matcha is, in fact, a sub-type of green tea in which the leaves are ground to a powder, resulting in a more concentrated tea.
In China and Japan, green tea has been used as a medicinal remedy for thousands of years. It is thought to help treat digestive symptoms, promote a healthier weight, and improve mental alertness.
What makes green tea an excellent anti-inflammatory drink is the presence of epigallocatechin-3-gallate or EGCG for short. EGCG is a chemical compound associated closely with chemoprevention — a practice of using certain foods, drugs, or substances to reduce cancer risk.
From an anti-inflammatory standpoint, research into the anti-inflammatory effects of green tea found that the EGCG compound plays a vital role in reducing and suppressing inflammation.
Although tomatoes are known for their acidity, these fruits can be a powerful anti-inflammatory food.
According to a 2013 study, what makes tomatoes great for treating inflammation is the presence of a potent antioxidant called lycopene, which acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and prevents the production of inflammatory cytokines in the body.
The study further found that tomato juice helped to reduce inflammation in obese and overweight females, with researchers concluding that increased tomato juice consumption could help prevent the development of diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Like green tea, mushrooms have a long history of medicinal use.
In the past, mushrooms have been used to treat all sorts of different conditions. Today, researchers have extensively studied the healing properties of mushrooms.
One 2017 study found that mushrooms in the Basidiomycota taxon (such as shiitake, oyster, and lion’s mane mushrooms) have significant anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to being anti-inflammatory, mushrooms in this taxon are also thought to possess antioxidant and anti-cancer properties as well.
The best part about mushrooms is how versatile these edible fungi are. Depending on the variation, you can eat mushrooms raw, cooked, or even incorporated into other foods — such as mushroom coffee.
6. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is beloved around the world for its rich flavor and versatile cooking uses.
In addition to simply being a kitchen essential, extra virgin olive oil is also known as a healthy alternative to more fatty and less nutritionally-dense oils, like vegetable or canola oil.
Research on the anti-inflammatory properties of extra virgin olive oil shows that this oil contains phenolic compounds, or more specifically, the compound oleocanthal. According to the research, oleocanthal offers similar anti-inflammatory properties to the drug ibuprofen.
7. Dark Chocolate and Cacao
Dark chocolate and cacao products have long been staples in the health and wellness industry.
For those of us with strong sweet tooths, eating healthy foods that reduce inflammation can be especially hard, as sugary foods can have a substantial negative impact on inflammation. However, not all sweets are risky — in fact, sweets like dark chocolate can even help to reduce inflammation.
According to a 2016 study, flavanol-rich cacao can help to reduce inflammation due to the reduced activation of monocytes and neutrophils in the body.
Additionally, dark chocolate is thought to be rich in antioxidants that can promote reduced inflammation and better digestive health as well.
5 Inflammatory Foods to Avoid
While there are plenty of excellent foods to eat that can help reduce and prevent inflammation, there are also several foods that you would be smart to avoid.
Here are five examples of foods that can increase or worsen the symptoms of inflammation:
- Refined Carbohydrates: Refined carbohydrates are foods that have been so overly processed that they lose their nutritional value. For example, while whole wheat bread and pasta offer a good source of healthy carbs and nutrients, white bread and pasta do not offer the same level of nutrition. This category can also include highly processed carbs like pastries that are also packed with sugar or other sweeteners.
- Soda and Sugary Beverages: In weight circles, a popular saying is to be careful not to “drink your calories.” This references soda and other beverages with high sugar content, as this very high level of sugar can trigger an inflammatory response in your body. While not all sugar is bad for you, the sugar found in soda and other sugary beverages is simply too much for your body to handle and can disrupt your body’s natural digestive process.
- Red & Processed Meat: Red meats (like hamburgers and steak) and processed meats (like hot dogs and sausage) can present problems to your health due to the high levels of saturated fat found in these meats. Not only can this trigger an inflammatory response but it can also increase the level of LDL cholesterol (commonly called bad cholesterol) in your body. In turn, you can end up at greater risk of developing conditions like diabetes heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
- Fried Foods: Like refined carbs, fried foods are often overly processed, stripping them of their nutritional value. Moreover, the oils needed to fry foods are not as healthy as alternatives like extra virgin olive oil and are often packed with unhealthy fats. As a result, fried foods often end up high in sugar and saturated fats while being void of any nutritional value.
- Artificial Trans Fats: Possibly the worst types of fats to consume when working to improve your body’s inflammatory response are artificial trans fats. These fats are created via artificial means, such as through an industrial factory process. When too many of these fats are consumed, you can end up with worsened inflammation as well as an increased risk of heart disease.
Risks of Chronic Inflammation
Chronic inflammation is a condition in which inflammation is long-lasting, persisting for several months or years with little to no alleviation.
The symptoms of chronic inflammation can include body pain, fatigue, mood problems, constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, weight fluctuations, and poor immune system response to infections.
In the gut and digestive system specifically, recurring or chronic inflammation can be very bad news for your health. According to the National Cancer Institute, chronic inflammation can result in:
- Damage to your DNA
- Development of serious diseases like cancer
- Increased risk of chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
While research into reducing the negative impacts of chronic inflammation is still ongoing, it’s clear that finding ways to reduce inflammation in your body is key.
If you experience chronic inflammation — especially in or around your stomach and digestive system — it may be to your benefit to discuss the advantages of an anti-inflammatory diet with your local doctor, nutritionist, or another trustworthy healthcare provider.
Final Thoughts: Buy Organic Traditions Anti-Inflammatory Supplements
When working to improve your diet, it can be tricky to get the right amount of nutrients on a daily basis.
To help you on your journey to better gut health, Organic Traditions offers a wide range of anti-inflammatory dietary supplements. These supplements come in a powder form that can easily be mixed into smoothies, soups, doughs, and other mixes to boost the anti-inflammatory properties of your meals.
Plus, we have awesome alternatives for people who do not eat meat or fish, such as our Ahiflower Omega 3-6-9 Softgels — a plant-based omega supplement that is better than flax.
Jumpstart your journey to better health today with Organic Traditions.