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Reduce Inflammation With Diet Changes

When you are sick or injured, temporary (acute) inflammation can be a sign that the body is healing. Chronic inflammation, however, occurs when your body is constantly under stress from lifestyle, disease or environmental factors.  

This long-lasting inflammation can impact the way your body functions and may lead to conditions like cancer or an autoimmune disease. Symptoms of chronic inflammation include body and joint pain, fatigue, stomach issues, weight gain or loss, and skin concerns--among many others.  

The foods we eat daily can help to reduce chronic inflammation. 

Anti-inflammatory diets are associated with decreased risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

One example of an anti-inflammatory diet is the Mediterranean diet. It involves choosing foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and decreasing your intake of saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, and foods high in added sugar. Moving towards a Mediterranean diet includes eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins.

Putting an anti-inflammatory diet into action:  

  • Aim to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables.  
  • Choose healthy fats such as olive oil rather than butter or coconut oil.
  • Include fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon or mackerel. Plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids are also good and include flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts and hemp seeds.  
  • Reduce intake of ultra-processed foors and processed meats, such as bacon.
  • Choose lean proteins:
    • Skinless chicken and turkey, or leaner cuts of pork and beef (loin or round cuts).  
    • Plant-based proteins such as beans, soy and lentils can also be good choices.    

Anti-inflammatory foods

Foods linked with anti-inflammatory properties include dark chocolate (with >70% cocoa), green tea, ginger, berries, and flavonoid-rich fruits and vegetables.

To develop an anti-inflammatory diet pattern that is best for you, meet with a dietitian for personalized guidance. Dieticians can meet with you to discuss your medical history, personal preferences and goals to provide support through any phase of life.   

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Adult Eating Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Ashley Reed, RDN, is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She works at Chesapeake Regional’s Lifestyle Health & Fitness Center in Diabetes and Nutrition Services.​

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