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Inflammation and Food

By Amanda Turner MS, RD, CSSD | May 9, 2016

Inflammation can exist in both acute and chronic stages in the body. Examples of an acute inflammatory state would include healing tissue as in an ACL tear or ankle sprain. Inflammation is beneficial in helping with the healing process in these situations. However, chronic inflammation can lead to various health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer.

The body of evidence to support the use of diet to reduce inflammation is small but growing. While we recognize that certain dietary traits reduce inflammatory diseases, we are still uncertain of a specific amount of each food to prescribe for these benefits. We also have to take into consideration each individual’s reaction to specific foods, which adds another degree of complication to discovering the “best” anti-inflammatory diet for an individual. What we know now is that there are a variety of foods that can help reduce or increase inflammation. The best place to start is by reducing inflammatory foods and increasing anti-inflammatory foods.

Foods that lower inflammation: Foods that increase inflammation:
• Dark colored fruits and veggies • High saturated fat intake
• High omega-3 fish • Trans fat intake
• Healthy fats • Added sugars
• Whole grains • Potentially specific foods if you have sensitivities
• Fresh herbs/spices
• Adequate sleep
• Regular physical activity
• Stress management


Of course, even if you follow these guidelines, you can still experience symptoms which may or may not
be food related. If you’re interested in exploring food sensitivities that may be present, consult further
with a registered dietitian. And there is always a place for desserts, fried foods, and snack foods in any
diet. It’s when these foods are eaten in excess that they can promote chronic inflammation. Focus on
the positives by adding more fruits and veggies, swapping fish for chicken/beef, and using olive oil
instead of butter. By making small changes over time, you’ll reap the benefits of your healthy lifestyle
changes throughout the rest of your life.