Nutrition

Everything you need to know about an anti-inflammatory diet

Struggling with chronic inflammation? A few simple food swaps could be the key to helping.

When you hear ‘inflammation’, you might think of it as joint pain, eczema, or even asthma. But besides being a localised pain in specific areas of the body, there is another type of inflammation that is more concerning for our health

Systemic inflammation is when your whole body is inflamed, rather than localised areas. Long-term systemic inflammation can lead to chronic health issues like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. The best way to counteract this is to start eating an anti-inflammatory diet. Here’s what you need to know.

What is an anti-inflammatory diet?

An anti-inflammatory diet seeks to reduce the body’s chronic inflammation and immune response. As implied by the name, this particular diet prioritises foods that are high in nutrients, antioxidants, and compounds that are proven to have anti-inflammatory properties. It also means slowly cutting out foods that promote inflammation as well.

Anti-inflammatory diet do’s:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3’s both reduce inflammation and are great for a healthy heart. Try incorporating fatty fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts into your diet.
  • Whole grains: Swap our refined grains for whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, oats, barley, and whole wheat.
  • Polyphenols: A naturally occurring compound found in plants, polyphenols can be found in berries, dark chocolate, tea, apples, citrus, onions, soybeans, and coffee.

Anti-inflammatory diet don’ts:

  • Limit added sugars and refined carbs: Sugary juices, soft drinks, biscuits and other packaged foods can all contribute to chronic inflammation.
  • Refined grains: Think white breads, cereals, white pasta, refined flours and white rice.
  • Trans fats and processed foods: Fried foods, pastries, margarine, processed meats, convenient frozen dinners and instant noodles.

What is systemic inflammation?

Systemic inflammation is when the immune system is on alert. Think of it as the body’s alarm-like response to a variety of lifestyle factors. If left unmanaged, these lifestyle factors and the inflammatory response could result in developing chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

Some reasons for systemic inflammation include:

  • Poor diet: A diet that’s high in sugar, processed food, refined carbohydrates can all cause inflammation in the body.
  • Lack of exercise: Sedentary lifestyles like sitting for the majority of the day or not squeezing in at least 20 minutes of vigorous movement is also a contributing factor.
  • Chronic stress: Constant stress can trigger cortisol levels and inflammation in your body.
  • Poor sleep: Having a poor sleep routine can wreak havoc on many different parts of your life and overall health. A lack of sleep can also disrupt the body’s inflammatory response.

What are signs that I need an anti-inflammatory diet?

Knowing that you need to start an anti-inflammatory diet can be tricky to pinpoint. Here are some signs you may have systemic inflammation:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Inexplicable warmth and high temperature
  • Tenderness in inflamed areas
  • Edema

It’s best to speak with a medical professional and do a laboratory test to be sure whether you have chronic inflammatory issues.

Related stories