Inflammation. It is an essential process our body undertakes to heal injuries and illnesses; however, it can become disastrous if it becomes chronic. When your body is in a chronic inflammatory state, often caused by poor diet, stress, or lifestyle habits like smoking, it can lead to cell damage along with an increased risk of weight gain, heart disease, and inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
One important way to fight inflammation is to maintain or switch to a nutrient-rich diet. “Eating is more than a meal, it is fuel for your body and the type of fuel is important,” says Kristen Carli, MS, RD, a nutritionist and author for Fit Healthy Momma. “Eating a balanced diet with a focus on moderation and variety is key. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, herbs, and spices provide your body with the nutrients it needs to fight inflammation.”
To help you navigate your diet against inflammation through diet, we asked nutritionists for their best advice. Read on, and to learn more about how to eat healthily, don’t miss out on the 7 Healthiest Foods You Should Be Eating Right Now.
“Find creative ways to include more fruits and vegetables in your cooked meals,” says Carli. “Try mashing roasted eggplant into tomato sauce, make a beet and potato puree instead of a traditional mashed potato, add mushrooms to your ground beef for burgers or meat sauces, etc.”
When it comes to spicing up your meals, Carli also recommends making friends with healthy flavor enhancers. “Try using fresh herbs, spices, citrus juice, and citrus peel for dishes. Adding these elements increases the phytochemicals that help fight inflammation while enhancing the taste without adding more salt,” she explains. “Try adding cinnamon and cloves to your morning oatmeal. Add lemon juice to your salad dressing. Add orange peel to your baked goods.” The possibilities are endless, so experiment as you wish.
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Keith-Thomas Ayoob, EdD, RD, FAND, a registered nutritionist and associate clinical professor emeritus in the Department of Pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, urges individuals to add some green tea to their diet. “The catechin compounds are powerful anti-inflammatory agents, but they can also help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, according to this study,” he says. “How? Green tea compounds appear to slow bone demineralization. This is emerging research but promising,” he continues, noting that the addition of green tea is due to its high concentration. Definitely a good thing is antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory compounds.
TIED TOGETHER: Secret Effects of Drinking Green Tea, Science Says
“They are an excellent source of plant-based omega-3 ALAs, and consumption of these omega-3 fatty acids can be beneficial for inflammation,” explains Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, a plant-based registered dietitian in Stamford, CT who is a nutritional partner with California walnuts.
“In a study in Journal of the American College of Cardiology“People in their 60s and 70s who ate walnuts regularly achieved significant reductions in inflammation (up to 11.5%) compared to people who didn’t eat walnuts,” she continues, adding that the walnut eaters in the study, about one of them ate up to two ounces a day as part of their typical diet. “Lower levels of inflammation may be associated with a lower risk of heart disease,” she adds.
Check out nine health benefits of consuming walnuts here.
While Ayoob admits this is emerging research, we’re taking it. “Exercise-related muscle damage is linked to inflammation, and this review of research on cocoa flavanols suggests that cocoa flavanols (a subclass of antioxidants) may help alleviate such muscle damage, including sore muscles, and even help restore muscle function,” he said says.
“How Much Chocolate?” One of the studies reviewed used just 20 grams of dark chocolate, while another used just over 100 grams (I would have volunteered for this group). Others took cocoa flavanol supplements. Most of the studies have been short-term, so chocolate cannot be said to be useful for treating muscle damage, but it is still a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. And it has calories, so keep it to about an ounce serving, and the darker the better for getting the most antioxidants in.
CONTINUE READING: Popular foods that reduce inflammation, says nutritionists
If Ayoob could get people to do anything, it would be to eat their vegetables (see tip 1!) – but also to eat their nuts and extra virgin olive oil, other staples of this type. âThe Mediterranean diet is packed with anti-inflammatory foods like these. Yes, the vegetables (and fruits) are high in antioxidant compounds, but the nuts and EVOO are loaded with anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fats, âhe says. âThis review of research showed that the Mediterranean diet lowered markers of inflammation and oxidative stress,â he says, adding that this diet pattern can be adapted to pretty much any cuisine, such as Asian or Indian, making it versatile.
“Nuts and vegetables are found in so many kitchens, and canola oil is a good substitute for EVOO because it contains a pretty similar amount of monounsaturated fats,” he adds. For more information, see our article on What Happens To Your Body During The Mediterranean Diet.
Alleluia. âYes, I’m telling you to do something that you probably already enjoy doing. Coffee contains antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory effects, âsays Gorin. “And coffee actually contains more antioxidants than wine and tea in antioxidants, according to a study.” Of course, coffee, like anything else, is probably best for your health in moderation – so you’re not a jitter machine. This article gives you a solid look at the health benefits of coffee.
âCurcumin, which gives turmeric its bright color and taste, is also known for its anti-inflammatory effects on the body. Studies show that curcumin can inhibit and reduce pro-inflammatory factors in the body, âsays a registered nutritionist Angela Houlie, MS, RDN, CDN, Founder and Owner of My Fruitful Body Nutrition, PLLC. “Oxidative stress causes chronic inflammation and curcumin has been shown to alter the pathway that causes oxidative stress. Many new high-potency formulas of curcumin are now being developed to increase its effectiveness in fighting inflammation.”
When buying fresh turmeric, says Houlie, always buy authentic Indian turmeric for cooking and supplements, look for one with as few fillers and inactive ingredients as possible.
Not just because it tastes good, friends. “Some research shows that flavonoids found in 100% orange juice can reduce inflammation and support blood vessel cell health,” says a registered nutritionist Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD, a member of Eat This, Not That! Medical Expert Board and Partner of the Florida Department of Citrus. And according to a study carried out in. has been published Food and nutrition researchConsuming 750 milliliters of orange juice for eight weeks as part of the usual diet was associated with an improvement in several anti-inflammatory and oxidative stress markers in adults.
Manaker warns people to make sure they are drinking 100% orange juice as opposed to a mixture that has sugar and other nasty ingredients.
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