Can Diet Help with Inflammation?

Jan 3, 2024

Can Diet Help with Inflammation? Part I of II.

Did you know that there may be a link between inflammation and increased risk for chronic diseases?  Some studies have found an association between chronic inflammation and conditions such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Inflammation is a Normal Body Response to Promote Healing

Typically, we think of signs of inflammation as redness, swelling, and pain.  However, inflammation can be both a sign that the body is fighting infection or trying to heal from injury.  Signs of inflammation may not always be obvious, like with a respiratory condition.  Other signs might be easy to see, like a wound on the skin.  Whatever the cause, long term chronic inflammation may damage the body’s DNA, increasing the risk for other chronic conditions.

 Foods and Inflammation

While various anti-inflammatory diets are promoted online, researchers are still figuring out how what we eat may affect inflammation.  However, eating a variety of nutritious foods may help manage inflammation in the body by providing nutrients that help keep your immune system working well:

  • Fruits and vegetables contain natural components called phytonutrients that may help protect against inflammation.
  • Healthy fats that help boost brain and heart health, such as monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, may help reduce inflammation.

Foods high in saturated fats may increase inflammation.  Plus, highly processed foods and other foods with trans-fat also may be inflammatory.

 Are there “Anti-inflammatory Foods”?

Dark chocolate (more than 70% cocoa), red wine, green tea, turmeric, and ginger are thought to help reduce inflammation, but many of the findings of the anti-inflammatory effects of these foods come from studies done with lab animals.  We cannot form conclusions about how these foods impact inflammation in people at this time.  And it is not yet known how much and how often “anti-inflammatory” foods must be eaten to combat inflammation.  For now, the best advice is to adopt a healthy eating style.

 Up next month, Five Dietary Approaches that May Help Reduce Inflammation. 

Adapted from Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, December 2023 and prepared by Rachel A. Mischler, RD, CDN. If you wish to speak to Rachel with any questions or nutritional concerns, please contact her at 607-744-0245.

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