Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Rid Your Body of Inflammation
by Vickie Chin on Jun 01, 2023
Inflammation in the body can have numerous causes — from poor dietary habits to underlying disease.
For anyone who experiences inflammation, you know it can be a frustrating condition to deal with. Not only can it cause pain but it can also inhibit your body’s ability to function properly.
So, what can you do when you want to get rid of inflammation in your body?
While it is important to discuss inflammation (especially chronic inflammation) with your doctor, there are also several at-home remedies and foods that fight inflammation in your body.
Namely, the best at-home fix for inflammation is to add a variety of anti-inflammatory foods to your diet.
This article explores the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet, what symptoms to watch out for, foods that cause inflammation, and nine of the best natural anti-inflammatory supplements to eat.
What is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?
An anti-inflammatory diet is a type of diet that focuses on reducing inflammation in the body.
Keeping minimal inflammation in your body is crucial, as persistent or chronic inflammation can lead to more serious health conditions. Although inflammation is not considered in medical communities to be carcinogenic, it can be a primary cause that leads to the development of cancer.
According to a 2018 chronic inflammation research review:
“ — a significant percentage of cancers arise from chronic microbial infections and damage brought on by chronic inflammation.”
Aside from the potentially drastic health consequences that can result from chronic inflammation, the more mild cases of inflammation can still lead to bodily discomfort and pain.
As such, people choose to eat an anti-inflammatory diet for many different reasons — though most of those reasons ultimately circle back to improving one’s health.
The Benefits of Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Anti-inflammatory foods are foods that do not trigger an inflammatory response in the body.
In some cases, anti-inflammatory foods can even help to fight and prevent inflammation in the body, making these foods staples within an anti-inflammatory diet.
Here are three key benefits of anti-inflammatory foods:
- Improved Immune Function: Many anti-inflammatory foods contain nutrients like antioxidants that help to promote and improve the functionality of your immune system. This is majorly advantageous, as a well-functioning immune system helps prevent illness and disease.
- Enhanced Digestive Health: The range of anti-inflammatory foods includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, and other food items that contain higher levels of dietary fiber. Eating a good amount of dietary fiber is extremely important, as fiber helps enhance your digestive health.
- Balanced Meals: Focusing on eating anti-inflammatory foods can often be an important stepping stone in your personal health journey. By ensuring you are eating the right foods for your body’s needs, you can inadvertently improve your overall diet by creating more balanced meals.
What are the Signs that You have Inflammation in Your Body?
For the uninitiated, inflammation is a natural part of your body’s defense system.
When you are injured or sick, your body works to fight back against bacteria and other harmful agents that can prevent healing. For example, think about when you get a cut. After a few minutes, the skin around the injury begins to swell and can become itchy or otherwise uncomfortable.
This is a very common example of inflammation.
However, inflammation is not just a response to an injury. If you are constantly feeding your body unhealthy and overly processed foods, this can negatively impact your immune system and organs — especially when it comes to your gut.
The key is to know the symptoms of inflammation so you can identify it correctly when it occurs.
The symptoms of inflammation include:
- Redness and swelling of the skin
- Joint pain or stiffness
- Flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, headaches, etc.)
- Loss of appetite
9 Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods
If you are ready to begin improving your health with anti-inflammatory foods, it is crucially important to know which foods are best for fighting inflammation.
Here are nine great anti-inflammatory foods to add to your diet:
Turmeric is a spice that comes from a flowering plant that belongs to the ginger family.
Known for its bright yellow-orange color, turmeric is commonly used in middle eastern and southern Asian cuisine. Turmeric is widely used in its ground-up form as a spice, though it can also be used to make turmeric powder supplements, extracts, and teas as well.
A key ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which gives turmeric both its color and its anti-inflammatory properties. One of the most prevalent uses of turmeric as an anti-inflammatory food is to help treat the pain and symptoms of osteoarthritis. However, turmeric can also be helpful when added to a nutritional regimen for those living with Crohn’s disease, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, and other conditions. Knowing this we can confidently say that Turmeric is one of the key ingredients to get rid of inflammation in your body.
Both red and black grapes can be excellent anti-inflammatory foods, as they contain key nutrients like antioxidants and polyphenols that help to fight and prevent inflammation.
One vital compound found in red and black grapes is resveratrol, which can be highly useful for improving a person’s heart health and blood vessel function. This compound is also found in red wine, hence why some say red wine is good for you in moderation.
3. Dark Chocolate & Cacao
Dark chocolate and its main ingredient cacao is one of the foods that fight inflammation with its powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
According to a 2020 study, cocoa (the processed version of cacao) is rich in flavonoids and can produce positive effects in people with chronic pathologies, such as cardiovascular disease.
Though the study notes that further research is needed, the potential pain-relieving and inflammation-reducing capabilities of cacao are clear. Plus, cacao can be a flexible ingredient that can come in many easy-to-consume forms, such as cacao powder.
Despite nightshade fruits and vegetables often getting a bad rep for being inflammatory, one fruit, in particular, has been shown to help fight inflammation — tomatoes.
In a 2022 research review, it was discovered that tomatoes can be helpful in reducing the levels of certain inflammatory markets, such as tumor necrosis factor.
Meanwhile, an older 2013 study found that tomatoes are a major source of the potent antioxidant lycopene which, among other benefits, can help improve the body’s immune defenses and reduce the risk of inflammatory conditions or diseases.
Berries are fruits that do not have a stone or pit in the center and often come in a small, round form. Common examples of anti-inflammatory berries include strawberries, blueberries, or goji berries.
What makes berries a particularly potent anti-inflammatory food is the presence of bioactive compounds that reduce and prevent inflammation, according to a 2021 study. Berries can also help to reduce reactive oxygen species and may be particularly effective at helping to treat obesity-induced inflammation.
Avocado is an excellent source of vitamin E, a nutrient that possesses powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
Not only do avocados themselves present a variety of anti-inflammatory benefits to those who eat them but the seeds of these avocados may also be immensely beneficial in anti-inflammatory medicine.
Research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Penn State reveals that avocado seeds could be a source for “novel anti-inflammatory compounds that could be developed as a functional food ingredient or pharmaceuticals.”
Who doesn’t like a juicy cherry on a hot summer day?
These iconic fruits are actually some of the best for anti-inflammatory benefits. A 2018 research review of the health benefits of cherries reveals that cherries contain high levels of polyphenols and vitamin C, both of which have anti-inflammatory properties.
Plus, dried cherries also carry hefty nutritional value, making it possible to eat these fruits year-round.
Broccoli is easily one of the most popular cruciferous vegetables — and for good reason.
Research shows that broccoli has a high phenolic content and high sulforaphane content, enabling the vegetable to perform key antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Plus, broccoli is rich in dietary fiber, which can further help to maintain better digestive health in a person.
For our ninth and final anti-inflammatory food, we have mushrooms.
Mushrooms are extremely nutritionally-dense, with their nutritional makeup including a wide range of various bioactive compounds that provide anti-inflammatory benefits. According to 2022 research, these bioactive compounds include peptides, polysaccharides, terpenes, sterols, phenols, and fatty acids.
One of the greatest benefits of mushrooms is simply their versatility. Along with being great additions to meals in both their raw and sauteed forms, mushrooms can also be ground up to make a variety of drinks — like mushroom coffees — that can replace more inflammatory beverages.
Which Inflammatory Foods Should You Avoid?
While there are many excellent foods that can reduce inflammation in your body, there are also plenty of foods that can worsen the condition if eaten in excess.
Here are four foods that cause inflammation that you need to avoid:
- Processed Foods: Processed foods are, as the name suggests, processed in a factory or other large production center. While this processing can help food stay fresh for longer in some cases, it can also strip foods of their natural nutrients. Thus, overly processed foods end up being inflammatory, as they lack the healthy compounds that make them nutritionally balanced.
- Refined Carbohydrates: Like processed foods, refined carbs are taken through a process that strips them of their nutrients. This can be a major disadvantage when it comes to carbs, as dietary fiber can be drastically reduced in these refined products.
- Fried Foods: The high heat of frying foods can break down nutrients, causing foods to lose their naturally higher levels of certain healthy compounds and antioxidants. Moreover, frying requires lots of cooking oil which adds high levels of unhealthy fats that cause inflammation.
- Food with Added or Refined Sugar: Like the other foods in this list, refined sugars suffer from the same disadvantage — too much processing. Sugar is not inherently a bad food and can be good for your health and energy levels when consumed in moderate amounts from natural sources like fruit. However, when overly processed and added to foods where it does not belong, refined sugar can ultimately be the main culprit triggering your body’s inflammatory response.
If you are struggling with inflammation and are not sure how to solve it, changing up your diet to include more anti-inflammatory foods can be a great first step.
All of the foods discussed here can be excellent additions to a balanced diet and help you to get rid of inflammation in your body.
However, inflammation can become a more serious condition and can sometimes indicate an ongoing or underlying health condition. As such, if you are experiencing chronic inflammation and not seeing many changes after adjusting your diet, you should pay a visit to your local doctor.