When most people hear the word “inflammation”, they likely think of pain, redness and swelling with conditions such as arthritis or infection that you can readily observe in the person that is suffering. However, chronic inflammation on the inside of tissues may be invisible, but may be deadly as it’s linked with heart disease, dementia, diabetes and cancer. 1

In a recent study of over 68,200 men and women aged 45 to 83 years that were monitored for 16 years, subjects that ate an anti-inflammatory diet had an 18% lower risk of dying from any cause (including cardiovascular disease and cancer) compared to subjects who did not follow the diet as closely. Participants who smoked but ate an anti-inflammatory diet still reaped some of the benefits in comparison to smokers that did not follow the diet. 2

An anti-inflammatory diet is similar to a Mediterranean diet, which is plant-based and includes foods that help to prevent or reduce cellular inflammation. Fruit, vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals as well as healthy fats like canola oil and nuts are considered anti-inflammatory. Moderate consumption of low-fat cheese, beer and wine are also considered part of an anti-inflammatory diet as well. Processed and unprocessed red meat, organ meat, chips and soda are considered pro-inflammatory. These foods should be limited in our diets as much as possible. 1,2

The main author of the study, associate professor Dr. Joanna Kaluza at Poland’s Warsaw University of Life Sciences notes, “Our dose-response analysis showed that even partial adherence to the anti-inflammatory diet may provide a health benefit,”. 2

Here are simple tips to help follow an anti-inflammatory diet:

  1. Switch from soda to decaffeinated tea or water
  2. Snack on almonds or other nuts in place of chips, candy or cookies
  3. Swap white breads and cereals with 100% whole grain bread, steel cut oats, shredded wheat and other high fiber grains like farro, quinoa or bulgur
  4. Include fruits and vegetables at meals. Choose a variety of seasonal, colorful produce daily like kale, broccoli, berries, apples, melon and spinach.
  5. Add a few servings of fish, beans or lentils in place of red meat or fried meats
  6. Switch from full fat to low-fat dairy products
  7. Drink beer or wine in moderation- 1 drink/day for women, 2 drinks/day for men or less
  8. Use liquid oil such as corn, canola or olive oil in place of butter, lard or shortening

References:

  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation
  2. Kaluza, N. Håkansson, H. R. Harris, N. Orsini, K. Michaëlsson, A. Wolk. Influence of anti-inflammatory diet and smoking on mortality and survival in men and women: two prospective cohort studiesJournal of Internal Medicine, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/joim.12823

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