What Is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?
Inflammation in the body occurs when white blood cells are produced to fight infection, illness or injury. Acute inflammation is helpful for healing; however, long-term, chronic inflammation is detrimental to overall health and is a leading cause of many health conditions, disorders and diseases.
A healthy diet is essential for achieving and maintaining optimal health. Those suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions, such as Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease, etc., especially benefit from an anti-inflammatory diet. An anti-inflammatory diet not only benefits those dealing with inflammatory medical conditions, but it is also a very healthy diet in general, similar to the Mediterranean diet.
Foods to eat
An anti-inflammatory diet consists of a balance of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats, such as olive oil and coconut oil. Whole grains, nuts, beans, fruits, vegetables, fish, chicken, and grass-fed beef are all good choices. Dark chocolate and red wine can also be enjoyed in moderation. Fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries, cherries, peppers, apples, and leafy greens, are especially beneficial as they are full of antioxidants which decrease inflammation.
Foods to avoid
It is important to abstain from eating processed foods and refined sugars, such as white breads, corn and soybean oils, alcohol (except red wine), fruit drinks, sugary cereal, and even some condiments, while adhering to an anti-inflammatory diet. Greasy foods and sweet foods/drinks should also be avoided. In general, foods that promote inflammation are typically not good for maintaining a healthy body.
Supplementing an anti-inflammatory diet may also be beneficial. Fish oil and curcumin (found in turmeric) are two of the most common supplements that combat inflammation.
An anti-inflammatory diet benefits the body in many ways. It improves energy levels, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, and promotes mental health stability. It also decreases the risk of obesity, heart disease, anxiety, depression, diabetes, and various cancers while also improving the overall quality of life.
Before beginning any new diet, consulting a health care professional is recommended. Discussion of current medications, supplements, and activity levels with a medical professional before any lifestyle change is always a good idea. A dietitian can suggest tools and tips to begin and maintain an anti-inflammatory diet.