Anti Inflammatory Diet (2024)

Chronic, systemic inflammation is a serious health concern that can be made worse — or better — with diet. Here’s what chronic inflammation is, and how what you eat can keep you safer from the chronic diseases inflammation can cause.

What is inflammation?

If you’ve ever cut your finger, bruised a toe or had a throat infection, you have likely experienced at least some of the four signs of inflammation: redness, swelling, pain and heat. Acute inflammation is your body’s natural response to illness, injury or infection and usually resolves on its own.

But there is another kind of inflammation ― the kind that affects the whole body ― which is calledsystemic. Systemic inflammation can become chronic; it can persist for months, or even years.

Chronic, systemic inflammation is a factor in diseases such as:

  • Obesity
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Prediabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s diseaseand ulcerative colitis
  • Some forms of cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Inflammatory Foods

What causes inflammation? It can result from exposure to environmental toxins, a lingering virus, aging or chronic stress. But what you eat contributes, too.

What foods cause inflammation? Unfortunately, a lot of them. In particular, experts recommend avoiding these inflammatory foods:

  • Red meat, such as steak and hamburgers
  • Processed meat, such as bologna, bacon, sausage and lunchmeat
  • Commercial baked goods such as snack cakes, pies, cookies and brownies
  • Bread and pasta made with white flour
  • Deep fried items such as French fries, fried chicken and donuts
  • Foods high in added sugar, such as candy, jelly and syrup
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda, bottled or canned tea drinks, and sports drinks
  • Trans fats, found in margarine, microwave popcorn, refrigerated biscuits and dough, and nondairy coffee creamers

Cooking methods can make a difference

When you want to reduce inflammation, baking, steaming or fast stir-frying are preferable to deep frying or grilling.

Cooking meat, especially red meat, on the grill creates compounds associated with cancer. Meat on the grill can drip fat onto the flames and release these compounds, which can end up in the food on your plate. The same is not true of grilled vegetables or low-fat fish, which are safe (and delicious) on the grill.

And don’t feel bad about resorting to the microwave when you’re short on time. Microwaving cooks and heats by activating water molecules, and it is actually healthier than frying or grilling at high heat.

Also, bear in mind that the benefit of healthy items like fish and vegetables can be reversed if you are not careful with sauces and dressings. Many of these condiments and extras are high in inflammatory ingredients such as sugar and trans fat as well as sodium.

Processed Foods: Read the Label

It’s important to check the ingredients list of prepared or processed foods. Many prepared foods containhidden sugar. It can be hard to tell, since sugar tends to assume aliases: By some estimates, there are over 50 names for added sugar in prepared commercial foods, such as “cane crystals” and “crystalized cane juice,” syrups and many ingredient names that ends in “ose” (chemical shorthand for sugar).

Reading food labels is important. For instance, any food that lists partially hydrogenated oils as an ingredient should be avoided since these are trans fats.

Anti-inflammatory Foods

While there isn’t one specific anti-inflammatory diet, experts say overall healthy eating patterns can help you get rid of inflammation and stay healthier. In particular, they recommend some food types that can help bring inflammation down:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

One form of these powerful inflammation fighters is found in fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, tuna, striped bass and anchovies. You can get the benefit from eating the fish or by taking fish oil supplements.

Vegetarians and vegans have options, too. Another form of omega-3 is plant based. Eating nuts and seeds and cooking with canola oil can supply these nutrients and vitamin E, another inflammation fighter.

Vitamin C

Ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C, is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants help address cellular wear and tear that can set off inflammation.

You’ll find vitamin C in fruits and vegetables, which are the basis of a healthy diet. In addition to well-known vitamin C sources such as citrus fruit and juice, tasty bell peppers are also packed with the vitamin and may yield fewer calories.


There is a reason why theMediterranean dietand other healthy eating plans stress colorful, plant-based foods, whole grains and olive oil.

Polyphenols are naturally occurring compounds in these foods that protect the body from inflammation.

And you can get polyphenol power from your favorite pick-me-up: Coffee, tea and evendark chocolateare rich in these beneficial compounds.

Gut-Healthy Foods

A healthy population of beneficial bacteria (flora) in the intestines can help keep inflammation at bay. To cultivate healthy intestinal flora, enjoy plenty of foods rich in probiotics and prebiotics.

But keep in mind: Not all fermented foods have probiotics. Check the label and ensure that live microorganisms are listed in the ingredients. Yogurt and cottage cheese will have live active cultures noted on the packaging.

Prebiotics, in the form of dietary fiber, are like food for the helpful bacteria. Jerusalem artichokes and foods rich in inulin, such as asparagus, bananas and chicory, help keep the beneficial flora healthy and plentiful.

How to Reduce Inflammation: One Meal at a Time

In terms of well-known diets, the Mediterranean diet may be the most beneficial in helping people get inflammation under control. It emphasizes omega-3s, vitamin C, polyphenols, fiber-rich foods and other known inflammation fighters.

For those who want to start gradually, one strategy is substitution: finding alternatives to foods that cause inflammation. For example:

Instead of... Try:
Charcuterie boards Vegetable slices with hummus
French fries Baked sweet potatoes
Sauces with butter or cheese Olive oil, vinegar and herbs
Grilled burgers Grilled eggplant or portobello mushrooms
Bakery cakes and pies Dark chocolate with raspberries orgrilled peaches

Inflammation: You Can Fight It

It can seem challenging at first to eat for lower inflammation with so many inflammatory foods commercially available, but over time, small changes can turn into lasting habits.

While no one food reduces inflammation, building a healthy, holistic dietary pattern can help lower your risk of inflammatory disease and transform your health.

Anti Inflammatory Diet (2024)


What is the best diet to reduce inflammation? ›

Plan to eat more plant-based sources of protein. This can include soy products (tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy milk), beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds. Choose lean animal proteins like fish, chicken, and turkey. Try to limit red meat and avoid processed meats, and choose low-fat dairy products.

What foods flush out inflammation? ›

An anti-inflammatory diet should include these foods:
  • tomatoes.
  • olive oil.
  • green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards.
  • nuts like almonds and walnuts.
  • fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines.
  • fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges.
Mar 26, 2024

Is coffee inflammatory? ›

Research suggests that coffee does not cause inflammation in most people—even if your norm is more than one or two caffeinated cups a day. In fact, it's quite the opposite. According to a 2021 study in Nutrients, coffee may have anti-inflammatory effects on the body.

Are eggs an inflammatory food? ›

According to a 2020 review, eggs contain substances such as trimethylamine-N-oxide, omega-6 fatty acids, and arachidonic acid, which can promote inflammation. However, a 2019 study on adults found no connection between egg consumption and inflammatory biomarkers in the blood.

What drink kills inflammation? ›

Here are seven research-backed drinks that can help fight inflammation in your body.
  • Baking soda + water. ...
  • Parsley + ginger green juice. ...
  • Lemon + turmeric tonic. ...
  • Bone broth. ...
  • Functional food smoothie. ...
  • Matcha anti-inflammatory tonic. ...
  • Greens and berries smoothie.
Mar 16, 2023

What is the strongest natural anti-inflammatory? ›

  1. Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids , which are abundant in fatty fish such as salmon or tuna, are among the most potent anti-inflammatory supplements. ...
  2. Curcumin. ...
  3. S-adenosylmethionine. ...
  4. Zinc. ...
  5. Green tea. ...
  6. Frankincense. ...
  7. Capsaicin. ...
  8. Cat's claw.

What is the fastest way to fix inflammation? ›

Follow these six tips for reducing inflammation in your body:
  1. Load up on anti-inflammatory foods. ...
  2. Cut back or eliminate inflammatory foods. ...
  3. Control blood sugar. ...
  4. Make time to exercise. ...
  5. Lose weight. ...
  6. Manage stress.
Mar 29, 2024

Are bananas anti-inflammatory? ›

Bananas contain anti-inflammatory components that could have a significant impact on human health. One such component is bromelain, an enzyme known for its anti-inflammatory properties [5].

Is peanut butter inflammatory? ›

Are peanuts inflammatory? The short answer is no, and in fact, peanuts and some peanut products like peanut butter have been shown to be anti-inflammatory. Inflammation in the body is a mechanism thought to be at the center of the majority of chronic diseases.

What 10 foods fight inflammation and joint pain? ›

10 foods that fight inflammation
  • Wild-caught fish.
  • Spices like turmeric.
  • Unprocessed olive oil.
  • Vegetables (aim for a rainbow of colors on your plate)
  • Garlic.
  • Walnuts.
  • Seeds and nuts.
  • Fruits.
Jan 18, 2023

Is cheese inflammatory? ›

Unfortunately, many foods considered part of the traditional western diet can cause inflammation. When following an anti-inflammatory diet, avoid eating: Foods high in saturated fats (including red meat, cheese and foods made with saturated fats and oils) Full-fat dairy (such as cheese and whole milk)

Is oatmeal inflammatory? ›

Oatmeal has anti-Inflammatory properties.

Any type of oats — steel cut, rolled or instant — provide health benefits, but the best of the best are steel cut oats since they are the least processed, offer a touch more nutritional value and are the lowest on the glycemic index.

What are the 7 most inflammatory foods? ›

The following seven foods, which are common in Western diets, are some of the top inflammatory foods to avoid.
  1. Refined grains. ...
  2. Refined sugar. ...
  3. Sodium. ...
  4. Red and processed meat. ...
  5. Trans fats. ...
  6. Ultra-processed foods. ...
  7. Alcoholic beverages.
Nov 1, 2023

What reduces inflammation fast? ›

What is the fastest way to reduce inflammation in the body?
  • Supplements: Certain supplements, such as fish oil and curcumin , may help reduce inflammation.
  • Regular exercise: Exercise can decrease inflammatory markers and your risk of chronic disease.
  • Sleep: Getting enough sleep is extremely important.

What is the #1 best drink to reduce inflammation? ›

Green and White Teas

Rich in polyphenols and catechins, these teas come with properties that not only reduce inflammation but can also regulate your immune system, which can be helpful in protecting the body against the cold during the winter.

How to lose inflammation weight fast? ›

Inflammation increases with weight gain, which leads to insulin resistance and leptin resistance. So, if you're looking to lose weight, reducing inflammation is key. You can do this by avoiding processed foods and added sugars, eating more anti-inflammatory foods, getting enough sleep and decreasing stress levels.

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