Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Changes in your diet that can reduce inflammation

In recent years, we’ve seen a significant rise in autoimmune illnesses. More people than ever suffer from a range of inflammation-inducing conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis, Graves disease & thyroid conditions. The reasons for the increase isn’t completely clear. Scientists suspect changes in our environment and food processing could be at cause, but the research is still out for debate.

What we do know is that dietary changes may be helpful in managing and reducing some of the symptoms of inflammation. Some inflammation-inducing foods to limit or avoid include:

  • Processed meats

    1. Sugary drinks

    2. Trans fats, found in fried foods

    3. Refined carbs

    4. Sunflower, corn, soybean and cottonseed oils

    5. Processed snack foods, such as chips and crackers

    6. Excess alcohol

What else can you do to fight inflammation?

  • Emphasize omega 3’s in your diet. Fish especially cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines) are a great source of Omega-3’s as well as nuts and seeds (flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts)

  • Include a lot of antioxidant-rich foods. Fruits and vegetables are antioxidant powerhouses. Kale, Brussels Sprouts, broccoli, berries, cherries and oranges are just a few of the high-antioxidant fruits and veggies that make the list. But don’t get too caught up on which foods are the highest in antioxidants — simply increasing your intake of fresh or flash frozen fruits and veggies will help you increase your daily antioxidant intake.

  • Stabilize insulin by increasing your fiber intake. Insulin is a hormone responsible for lowering blood sugar levels. Keeping blood sugar and insulin levels more stable may help with inflammation. Start by swapping out refined carbs for healthy carbs such as whole grains (brown rice, quinoa), starchy veggies (sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pumpkin, peas and corn) or fruits. Keep your intake of carbohydrate moderate (aim a fist-sized portion on your plate) and try to always pair a carb with a lean protein to really keep those insulin levels stable.

  • Identify food intolerances. Some of the biggest offenders with inflammatory-related conditions include gluten, dairy and soy. Work with your dietitian to remove one food from your diet strictly for 6-8 weeks and closely  monitor any improvements in symptoms.

  • Spice it up with anti-inflammatory spices and herbs: Ginger, Rosemary, Turmeric, Oregano, Cayenne, Clove, Nutmeg are all inflammation-packed spices that you can start incorporating into your favorite dishes.

Written By: Stefanie Mendez, MS RD CDN & NYNG dietitian

Nick VanMeter