What is the Anti-Inflammatory Diet?

by Emily Harland, RDN, CSO, LDN

Last Updated: December 9, 2020

When it comes to nutrition and diet trends, the phrase “anti-inflammatory” is being used more often, and for a good reason. According to the most recent nutrition research, eating foods that are “anti-inflammatory” can prevent disease and lead to long term balanced eating patterns. How do you determine which foods fall into this category? Read on to find out more.

What is inflammation?
Chronic inflammation occurs when inflammatory markers in the body become chronically elevated, leaving the body in a constant state of irritation. Chronic inflammation symptoms may include chronic fatigue, pain, digestive issues, stress, and even issues with blood pressure and blood sugar. Chronic inflammation is also one of the leading causes of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and autoimmune diseases.

How anti-Iinflammatory foods help the body heal.
Did you know there is a direct link between food and inflammation? Foods that naturally contain antioxidants can help to reduce inflammation in the body by preventing damage from free radicals. An excess of free radicals can damage the healthy cells in your body, which is a precursor for chronic disease. However, recent research published in the Journal of Internal Medicine shows that the foods you eat may help reverse some of this damage to healthy cells, leading to reduced inflammation.

Which foods are anti-inflammatory?
Foods to support an anti-inflammatory diet include whole grains, legumes, fruits, berries, nuts, chia seeds, cocoa, teas, herbs, and spices like ginger, turmeric, and garlic.
  • Whole grains: High fiber whole grains like oats, quinoa, brown rice, farro, and barley are packed with vitamins and antioxidants to help ward off inflammation.
  • Legumes, beans, lentils, and soy foods: These foods are rich in fiber and antioxidants. Legumes and beans contain a balance of protein and carbohydrates, which can lead to sustained energy and fullness. Work to include a serving of legumes at least once per day in your diet to reap inflammation suppressing benefits.
  • Fruits and vegetables: These anti-inflammatory superstars are rich in various antioxidants and vitamins, but did you know that each color of fruits and vegetables actually contain a different set of antioxidants? This is how the phrase “eat the rainbow” came to be, which refers to eating a wide variety of colors to supply the body with various nutrients.
  • Nuts, seeds, and omega-3 fatty acids: Nuts and seeds contain heart-healthy unsaturated fatty acids as well as omega-3 fatty acids. These special omega-3s, found in walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds, to name a few, have been shown to lower inflammation in the body. Cold-water fish, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut, are another rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Herbs, spices, and extras: Don’t forget the flavor! Herbs and spices are also key pieces of an anti-inflammatory diet. Foods like turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, and ginger are well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties and should become staples in your pantry. Chocolate, specifically antioxidant-rich cocoa, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties as well. Chocolate lovers rejoice.

What if I want to start eating anti-inflammatory foods?
If you are ready to begin including anti-inflammatory foods in your diet but aren’t sure where to start, set up an appointment with one of our Kroger Health Dietitians today.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

Emily Harland, RDN, CSO, LDN

Emily Harland, RDN, CSO, LDN

Emily is a passionate clinical dietitian who strives to make nutrition changes sustainable while improving peoples’ relationship with food. She makes every effort to get to know each one of her clients on a personal level to ensure whole-person care. Emily is specialized in nutrition for oncology and cancer prevention/treatment. She has expertise from diabetes and heart health to hormonal health and fertility issues. Emily is an avid indoor cyclist and loves spending time in the kitchen cooking up nutritious and energizing meals.