Woman eating watermelon

Anti-inflammatory Diet: What it means and what you can do

You probably hear the terms inflammation and anti-inflammatory thrown around a lot, but what does inflammation mean – and how can it be managed or even prevented?

Inflammation is the immune system’s response to injury or irritation. There are two different types of inflammation:

  1. Acute inflammation. Examples include joint pain, headache, wounds, sore throat, ingrown nails and skin irritation.
  2. Chronic inflammation. Examples include disability, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and bowel disease.

Our bodies have a natural inflammatory response, which is our body’s way of protecting itself from illness and infection by producing more white blood cells. SOME inflammation is a good thing.

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is at the root of several illnesses such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

On the bright side, inflammation can be controlled through healthy lifestyle behaviors including the following:

  • Healthy eating
  • Moving more
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Limiting alcohol intake
  • Resting
  • Taking medications as prescribed

Having a high intake of anti-inflammatory foods will also help you in increasing these healthy habits.

“Inflammatory foods create byproducts during digestion that raise inflammatory compounds in the body,” says Emily McAllister, Registered Dietitian here at NCHPAD. “Anti-inflammatory foods contain higher levels of antioxidants and other protective compounds which help fight against inflammation.” Here are some examples of both.

Anti-inflammatory foods:

  • Salmon/tuna
  • Fruit
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Blueberries
  • Walnuts
  • Olive oil
  • Whole grains

Inflammatory foods:

  • Fried food
  • Soda
  • Red meat
  • Sugar
  • Highly processed food/meat
  • White flour products

There really isn’t one “diet” out there you must follow to prevent or manage inflammation. The goal is to maintain a healthy lifestyle for overall wellness.

Click the links below to learn more about several different healthy, flexible diets and see how they are similar by emphasizing foods full of antioxidants while limiting highly processed foods.