October 2020

How to Take Inflammation Off Your Plate

Chronic inflammation. It’s a common villain in a host of health problems—from heart disease, diabetes, and obesity to cancer and dementia. And although all inflammation isn’t bad—it’s our body’s natural response to infection or injury—it can damage healthy cells when the immune system misfires and begins to attack the body.

The good news is that we have the power to reduce chronic inflammation. Where to start? Revamp your diet.

Shop for good health

Adopting what’s known as an “anti-inflammatory diet” simply means choosing foods that can reduce inflammation and avoiding those that promote it. The Mediterranean style of eating is one example of an anti-inflammatory diet. Load up on these inflammation-fighting foods at the grocery store:

  • A variety of colorful fruits and vegetables

  • Nuts like almonds or walnuts

  • Olive oil and other monounsaturated fats

  • Whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, and quinoa 

  • Beans, a great source of healthy protein 

  • Cold-water fish like salmon and tuna

On the flip side, it’s important to avoid foods that promote inflammation. These offenders (and there’s plenty of them) include highly processed foods and those high in saturated or trans fat and sodium—like frozen pizza, canned soups, deli meat, packaged baked goods, and white rice or bread.

Plan your meals

Not sure what to eat? A sample day of anti-inflammatory eating might include:

  • Breakfast: Prepare a bowl of slow-cooked oatmeal. Serve with a side of blueberries.

  • Lunch: Toss together a salad of leafy greens and vegetables. Choose beans instead of meat for protein. And use olive oil as the base for your dressing.

  • Snack: Munch on some cherries and a handful of almonds.

  • Dinner: Bake a piece of salmon. Serve with brown rice and broccoli. Finish with a piece of dark chocolate (go for more than 70% cocoa).

Make it a lifestyle

In addition to improving your diet, adopt these habits to help lower inflammation:

  • Focus on getting enough quality sleep.

  • Try for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week.

  • Keep your weight under control.

  • Learn ways to manage your stress.



Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, BSN, MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2020
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