An anti-inflammatory diet promotes eating foods that prevent and lessen inflammation in the body. This diet is not usually used as a weight-loss program, however, people can and do lose weight on it as it reduces swelling and inflammation in the body. Along with influencing inflammation, this natural anti-inflammatory diet will provide steady energy and ample vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, dietary fiber, and protective phytonutrients (1).
Chronic inflammation is the root cause of many serious illnesses, such as arthritis, heart disease, and cancer. Inflammation on the surface of the body shows as redness, heat, swelling, and pain. It is the body's healing response, bringing more nourishment and more immune activity to a site of injury or infection. However, when inflammation continues, it becomes a chronic condition and it damages the body and causes illness. Stress, lack of exercise, genetic predisposition, and exposure to toxins (tobacco smoke) can all contribute to such chronic inflammation. Dietary choices play a big role as well. Learning how specific foods influence the inflammatory process is the best strategy for reducing long-term disease risk (2).
An anti-inflammatory diet restricts processed and fast food, dairy, sugar, nightshade vegetables, and trans fats. Foods that are permitted are anti-inflammatory foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, fibrous grains and legumes, medicinal herbs such a turmeric, healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil, and fish that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. An anti-inflammatory diet can be compared to the Mediterranean Diet as it shares the same food groups.
Nightshade vegetables include eggplants, potatoes, chili peppers and tomatoes; contain solanine, a chemical that has been branded the culprit in arthritis pain (2).
People do report significant symptom relief when they avoid nightshade vegetables. Doctors recommend if you notice that your arthritis pain flares after eating them, do a test and try eliminating all nightshade vegetables from your diet for four weeks to see if it makes a difference.
Studies have shown that fish oil can relieve tender joints and ease morning stiffness. It has also allowed some people to reduce the amount of conventional medication they take for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). One serving of fish provides about one gram of omega-3 fatty acids per 3½ ounces of fish (3).
The third most common arthritis, RA, is a chronic pro-inflammatory disease that is characterized by hyperplasia of the synovial fibroblasts, which is partly the result of decreased apoptosis, and joint stiffness and swelling, often manifesting in a symmetrical pattern on both sides of the body. The natural phenol found in Tumeric is called curcumin and has been widely studied in Western systems of medicine for decades and has been found to possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Considering that inflammation plays a major role in most chronic illnesses, anti-inflammatory agents are needed for prevention purposes (4).
Studies show that eating an Anti-Inflammatory Diet can do the following:
• Lower blood pressure
• Protect against chronic conditions ranging from arthritis to cancer
• Help arthritis by curbing inflammation
• Benefit your joints as well as your heart
• Aids in weight loss, which makes a huge difference in managing joint pain
Whether you call it a Mediterranean Diet, an Anti-Inflammatory Diet or simply an Arthritis Diet, here’s a look at key foods to focus on and why they’re so good for joint health.
• Aim for a variety of fruits & vegetables. Eat a minimum of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day
• Include wild caught fish, turmeric, beans, legumes and healthy fats (coconut oil, olive oil) in your daily diet
• Include as much fresh food as possible
• Minimize your consumption of nightshade vegetables (eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes, chili peppers) and processed foods (fast food, sugar, caffeine, fried foods, dairy, alcohol)