Anti-inflammatory diet menu

Why is the anti-inflammatory diet menu important for you? Well, while short-term inflammation protects you, chronic or persistent inflammation has been linked to chronic disease, fatigue, weight gain, emotional distress, gastrointestinal issues, and elevated blood sugar. Because an anti-inflammatory diet can help you minimize unhealthy chronic inflammation, this type of diet can help you improve important aspects of your physical and emotional health.

Why focus on food? Because food has a large impact on inflammation, and the impact can be positive or negative, it makes sense to focus on eating foods that can help you decrease inflammation.

Are you confused about what to eat and not eat? This blog will help you make better decisions regarding the types of foods to eat to reduce inflammation. Making good choices is easier and tastier than you think!

The key to fight inflammation is to change the foods you eat.

What is Inflammation?

Diseases associated with chronic inflammation

Since the anti-inflammatory diet is at the top of the charts in the media it is important to understand what inflammation is first. 

Our bodies undergo inflammation in order to protect themselves against infection, injury, and illness.

Short-term inflammation, also known as acute, can be recognized by pain, heat, redness, and or swelling.

Meanwhile, chronic inflammation may be occurring without you realizing it because of the lack of symptoms. However, as mention above, chronic inflammation can worsen many diseases and conditions including obesity (1), diabetes (2), Alzheimer’s (3), arthritis (4), gastrointestinal issues (5), heart disease (6), autoimmune diseases (7), and chronic infections (8).

What Causes it?

Lifestyle factors, diet and chronic disease play a large role in promoting chronic inflammation. The good news is that you can control your lifestyle. and diet.

One food that significantly contributes to inflammation is excess sugar, a food that can also contribute to obesity, and insulin resistance (9).

In addition, scientists have also associated refined carbohydrates with a contribution to inflammation (10).

Lastly, processed foods high in trans fats may cause damage to the endothelial cells found in your arteries and lead to inflammation (11).

All these foods cause the formation of free radicals in the body, which can cause cell damage and later on an increase in inflammation, potentially contributing to a variety of diseases.

Furthermore, an inactive lifestyle with a lack of daily movement can promote inflammation in the body. Adding 30 minutes of exercise daily has anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as getting quality sleep and reducing stress. 

What is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?

Anti-inflammatory

While there is no specific diet plan to follow when it comes to the anti-inflammatory diet menu in regards to portions or exactly what to eat, we know that to reduce inflammation you can focus on eating more anti-inflammatory foods and less inflammatory foods.

Furthermore, the anti-inflammatory diet focuses on adding more whole foods filled with antioxidants, while avoiding processed foods. The diet includes a good balance of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to make sure you are feeding your body the nutrients it needs.

In summary, the diet consists of adding fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats.

Beyond foods, herbs and spices such as ginger, cumin, garlic, and cinnamon are also high in antioxidants and offer anti-inflammatory effects.

Benefits of Anti-inflammatory Diet

  • Reduce inflammation (12)
  • Potentially better blood sugar control (2)
  • Decreased risk of Alzheimer’s (3)
  • Improvement of arthritis symptoms (4)
  • Improved energy and mood (13)
  • Decreased risk of obesity and heart disease (14)
  • Decreased risk of anxiety and depression (15)
  • Improvements in metabolic syndrome (16)

Foods to Minimize

Sugary drinksFruit juices, sugar-sweetened beverages, energy drinks, and other drinks with added sugar.
DessertsCandy, cake, ice cream, cookies, and other desserts.
Added sugarsLimit amount of added sugars to no more than 25 grams for women, and 35 grams for men. Added sugars are listed in food labels.
Refined carbohydratesWhite pasta, white bread, white rice, white flour, pastries, and other white carbs.
Wheat and glutenPasta and bread
Processed meatsSausage, deli meats, hot dogs, etc.
Processed snacksPretzels, chips, crackers, etc.
Fast foodsAvoid eating all types of fast foods.
OilsProceed seed oils and vegetable oils, safflower oils.
Trans fatsProducts with partially hydrogenated oils.
DairyCheese, milk, and yogurt.
AlcoholWine, beer, spirits, cocktails, and especially alcohol mixed with sugar.

Foods to Consume

Aim for a diet filled with nutrients, antioxidants and healthy fats.

VegetablesBrussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, bell peppers, tomatoes, etc. The goal is to consume 3 cups of vegetables a day.
Fresh fruitCherries, fresh berries, grapes, citrus fruits, etc. The goal is to eat up to 2 cups a day.
Lean proteinsLean turkey, meat, chicken breast, white fish.
LegumesBeans, lentils, soy.
Whole GrainsGluten-free oats, buckwheat, millet, barley, quinoa, brown rice.
Fatty fishSalmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, cod, herring.
Nuts and seedsAlmonds, cashews, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, flaxseed.
ChocolateDark chocolate-unsweetened.
Herbs and spicesCinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, ginger, garlic, cayenne, black pepper, basil, oregano, cumin, thyme, clove, cinnamon.
TeaGreen and herbal tea.
Healthy oilsAvocado oil, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil.

Can You Consume Alcohol on an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?

While red wine can have antioxidant benefits, overconsumption of any type of alcohol is inflammatory. The American Heart Association recommends drinking no more than one four-ounce glass of red wine for women and no more than two glasses for men per day. However, if you do not already consume alcohol, there is no need to start now. 

Wine

Supplements

There is some evidence that fish oil (17), alpha-lipoic acid (18), resveratrol (19), vitamin C (20), and calcium (21) can help reduce inflammation.

Other Beneficial Habits

Regular exercise, a good night’s sleep, and reduced stress can also help to decrease inflammation.

Examples of Anti-Inflammatory Meals

Below are some options of anti-inflammatory meals you can add to your diet.

Anti-inflammatory

Breakfast

  • Scrambled eggs with veggies cooked in coconut oil, side salad, and strawberries
  • Oatmeal with walnuts, blueberries, unsweetened plant-based milk (try cashew, almond, or coconut), and cinnamon

Lunch

  • Turmeric chicken with quinoa and a side of your favorite vegetables
  • Stir-fried tofu, cauliflower rice, and salad

Dinner 

  • Grilled salmon with herbs, brown rice, and kale salad
  • Stuffed bell peppers (beans) and barley.

Snack

  • Cinnamon apples with almonds 
  • Dark chocolate

Do you want a 3 day menu including recipes? Get it here.

Summary

An anti-inflammatory diet menu includes increasing nutrient-dense whole foods while minimizing the intake of processed meats, excessive alcohol consumption, refined sugars, and refined carbohydrates. 

Furthermore, for better results, search for other causes of chronic inflammation and include other healthy habits that can impact inflammation such as regular exercise, a good night’s sleep, and stress reduction techniques.

“Anti-Inflammatory Diet Menu” was written by soon-to-be Registered Dietitian Solana Nicole Faerman. Reviewed/edited by Su-Nui Escobar, DCN, RDN, FAND.

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