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Anti-Inflammatory Diet 101

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Anti-Inflammatory Diet 101

One year it’s this diet trend, the next year it’s that diet trend. The funny thing is that, aside from the all-celery and 8-grapefruits family of diets, all the smart diets end up saying pretty much the same thing: Eat bushels of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, less animal fat, and cut out refined foods. Genius!

Lately there’s been a flood of diet books based on the anti-inflammatory concept. The gist is that constant or out-of-control inflammation in the body leads to illness, and that eating to avoid constant inflammation inspires better health and can fend off disease. We generally think of inflammation as the painful part of arthritis, but inflammation is also a component of chronic diseases such as heart disease and strokes. Which is why proponents of the diet say it can reduce heart disease risk, keep existing cardiac problems in check, reduce blood triglycerides and blood pressure, and soothe sore and stiff arthritic joints.

Specifics vary from one anti-inflammatory diet to another, but in general, anti-inflammatory diets recommend:

  • Eat plenty and a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat little saturated and trans fats.
  • Eat omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish or fish oil supplements and walnuts.
  • Limit your intake of refined carbohydrates such as white pasta and white rice.
  • Increase your consumption of whole grains such as brown rice and bulgur wheat.
  • Limit (or quit) your consumption of red meat and full-fat dairy foods, increase lean protein and plant-protein source.
  • Avoid refined foods and processed foods.
  • Generously use anti-inflammatory spices.

Next: Top anti-inflammatory herbs & spices, and recipes

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Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Food, Health, , , ,

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


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7:50AM PDT on Jul 21, 2014

I'll have to revamp my diet to try this.

5:09PM PDT on Jul 2, 2014

Good info, but to consume enough of the ingredients listed above, you'd be eating a lot every day. If you truly are suffering from extreme inflammation, the best things you can do is cut out ALL grains & sugars for a period of time, and up your consumption of Omega 3 oils to at least 2-5 gm per day.

7:37PM PDT on Jun 8, 2014

Great info, thanks Melissa :)

8:49AM PDT on Jun 7, 2014

Anteaters have always eaten right!

8:47AM PDT on Jun 7, 2014

ANTS are lean protein!

4:40AM PST on Jan 1, 2014

Thanks for the info.

9:52AM PST on Dec 31, 2013

great to know!

11:31AM PDT on Oct 18, 2013


4:03PM PDT on Aug 13, 2013

I just read another piece about the connection between cancer and inflammation which certainly supports the need for eating an antiinflammatory diet. Thank you for sharing the information.
(p, t)

5:31AM PDT on Aug 3, 2013

Thank you

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