Inflammation is linked to many health problems such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. Research shows that an anti-inflammatory diet of healthy, unprocessed foods can reduce inflammation in the body and boost your health.
We don’t like the word “diet” at Prescribe FIT. So it’s important to note that an anti-inflammatory “diet” is not like most other “diets.” Rather than thinking of it as a strict list of foods that you’re “allowed” to eat, think of it more like a grocery list of options. You can shop from this list whenever you want to incorporate a few healthier foods into your meals.
Read on to learn more about how inflammation leads to pain and which foods can help alleviate it.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is an important bodily function that helps you fight off bacteria, viruses, and infections. It is also the process that helps your bones and tissues heal from injury.
Sometimes inflammation lasts beyond the healing stage and it can start to damage healthy cells. This is known as chronic inflammation and can lead to conditions that may cause pain.
For example, chronic inflammation can lead to rheumatoid arthritis. This disease can damage the bones and tissues in your joints. This is what causes you to feel aches, pain, swelling, and stiffness in your joints.
Foods that Reduce Pain
Certain foods can help reduce inflammation and promote your body’s natural healing ability. This can also improve the pain you may feel in your joints as a result of chronic inflammation.
In general, eating whole and unprocessed foods without added sugar is a great place to start an anti-inflammatory diet. Examples of anti-inflammatory foods to incorporate in your diet include:
- Fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens
- High-fiber whole grains
- Whole wheat pasta and bread
- Buckwheat, barley, and millet
- Brown rice
- Healthy fats
- Olive oil
- Unsweetened tea and coffee
- Dark chocolate
- Herbs and spices like turmeric, ginger, and mint
Inflammatory Foods to Avoid
Likewise, there are some foods that can contribute to inflammation in your body and even make your pain worse. In general, try to avoid salty, ultra-processed, and sugary foods. Some examples of foods to limit in your diet include:
- Sweetened beverages
- Sweet tea
- Energy drinks
- Sports drinks
- Refined grains
- White bread and pasta
- White rice
- Cakes and Cookies
- Fried foods
- French fries
- Chicken wings, nuggets, or tenders
- Mozzarella sticks
- Onion rings
- Processed meats
- Deli meat
- Hot dogs
- Salami and pepperoni
- Saturated fats
- Full-fat yogurt, milk, and cottage cheese
- Fatty cuts of meat like steak and pork belly
- Butter, ghee, and lard
- Excess alcohol
How to Start an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Unlike other diets, there are no strict rules to follow with an anti-inflammatory diet. Instead, it focuses on many different healthy foods and food groups while minimizing foods that can cause inflammation and pain. This means that you can choose from the food options that you enjoy without having to make large sacrifices.
If you do not usually eat these foods, try picking one or two from the list above to add to your cart the next time you go grocery shopping. Remember that it’s also important to reduce the amount of inflammatory foods that you eat as well. Try to swap them with the healthier options from this list.
You can also download and print the infographic below to hang on your fridge whenever you need a refresher on healthy, anti-inflammatory foods that help reduce pain.
Remember that inflammation is not always bad. In fact, it can help fight infection and heal damaged cells. However, long-term inflammation can lead to health problems that cause pain and stiffness in your joints. An anti-inflammatory diet is a great natural remedy that can allow your body to recover from and prevent chronic conditions and reduce pain.