Anti Inflammatory Diet
An anti inflammatory diet is one which reduces the consumption of foods which increase chronic inflammation, and substitutes foods which decrease chronic inflammation.
Inflammation is a helpful process when it is appropriate to the cause. For instance, if you have an infection, your body will mount an inflammatory response which kills off the infecting bacteria, and helps you get well again.
However, chronic inflammation is not good for the body, and points to damage being done by pro-inflammatory substances within the body.
Inflammation is measured with a blood test that looks for a substance called c reactive protein (CRP). Levels of this protein increase in the blood as body inflammation becomes more widespread.
Certain foods and supplements are an important part of an anti inflammatory diet, and they can lower your levels of c reactive protein, just as other foods can raise CRP.
Generally, foods higher in saturated fats and Omega 3 fatty acids are less inflammatory, while foods which are higher in Omega 6 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids are more inflammatory.
Natural Saturated Fats vs Polyunsaturated Fats
Fact: When a consumed food is unstable chemically, it causes reactions which damage the tissue with which it comes into contact. This reaction causes inflammation.
Foods which are chemically unstable include foods which are high in polyunsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats (or PUFAs) are fats which have chemical bonds which are unstable (i.e., the chemical bonds are "unsaturated").
These chemically unstable bonds cause PUFAs to oxidize quickly in the presence of oxygen and light, and this oxidation sets off the damaging chemical reactions in the body that lead to inflammation.
In contrast, saturated fats are very stable, chemically speaking, because their chemical bonds are "saturated". The more naturally saturated a fat is, the more chemically stable it is. These natural saturated fats don't oxidize easily, and they are less inflammatory when consumed.
Other sources about inflammation have stated that saturated fat is inflammatory, but the above information contradicts that assumption, and this reference confirms this.
Vegetable oils, and indeed all polyunsaturated oils, are highly unstable, and are easily oxidized after consumption. It is this peroxidation process which results in large amounts of free radical molecules which damage the body.
In addition, excess carbohydrate (sugar and starch) consumption is inflammatory, and is associated with the markers of insulin resistance (Metabolic Syndrome), which are closely related to inflammation. See this study, this article, and this study.
Carbohydrates cause inflammation because they increase blood sugar dramatically, which has the effect of increasing blood insulin levels. Insulin is pro-inflammatory.
Foods which Reduce Inflammation
Supplements Which Reduce Inflammation
Foods Which Increase Inflammation
These foods should be avoided on an anti inflammatory diet:
In addition, nightshade vegetables can be inflammatory for some individuals. Nightshades include:
However, for the most part, an anti inflammatory diet is one which relies on clean, organic whole foods and avoids processed, refined vegetable oils, sugars and other pro-inflammatory foods.
Resources for Further Reading