Though inflammation is a natural process, being in a constant state of inflammation for a long period of time (chronic inflammation) is neither natural nor acceptable. Yes inflammation is a bodily process that is important for wound healing, fighting infections, and building muscle after exercising, but that is acute inflammation (short term inflammation). From Diabetes to Arthritis, from Psoriasis to Colitis, and from Lupus to MS… chronic inflammation is the root cause of almost ALL autoimmune and auto-inflammatory diseases! It is time we uproot this cause with an Anti-Inflammatory diet.
-Diabetes Mellitus Type I and II
-Cardio Vascular Diseases
-Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Certain Foods are known to effectively fight, stop and undo the stubborn, chronic inflammation. So let us look at which are these Anti-Inflammatory Foods.
Thought all fruits are an essential part of a healthy and well balanced diet, berries and specifically cherries are extremely rich in antioxidants. Especially sour ones (not the sweet variety) are a rich source of a potent antioxidant named Quercetin. Quercetin is used to treat inflammation, gout, and also to increase endurance in athletes. Other berries like Blueberries, Blackberries, Strawberries, Indian Mulberries, Grapes, Amla, Java Plum (Jamun), Karvanda etc. are equally good sources of flavonoids, antioxidants and Anti-Inflammatory compounds.
In India, we have known for thousands of years that Turmeric has medicinal properties. Curcumin is the compound in Turmeric that has been shown to effectively reduce inflammation in Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis patients. And with anti-aging and anti bacterial properties as well, do you really need any more reasons to add half a teaspoon of this magic ingredient to your glass of milk or smoothie?
First thing first, what we call curd in India and what is known as yogurt in the west are the same thing, so don’t let any Curd Vs Yogurt info bits confuse you! Curd, as we know is full of gut friendly bacteria. Though more research is ongoing to investigate qualitative and strain specific effects of probiotic bacteria on intestinal inflammation, it is acknowledged by scientific community that they do in fact help reduce inflammation in the gut. Note: Yogurt isn’t the only option. For people with lactose intolerance or milk allergy, there are other options available such as fermented kimchi, fermented pickles, soyabean Tempeh, miso soup etc.
I am sure we have all heard that Fish Oil are a great source of Omega-3 essential fatty acid which helps strengthen heart and also fight inflammation. Which is why fatty fish like Salmon (Rawas) and Tuna are so revered! But these can be expensive. There are some lesser expensive and local options too. Next time you go fish shopping in your local fish market, ask for Bangda (Mackerel), Padwa/Washi (Sardines), Rainbow Trout etc.
For my vegetarian and Vegan friends, Walnuts, Cashew nuts, peanuts are a great alternative for Fish Oil and Salmon. Especially Walnuts with 2.3gm n-3 per ounce, are a pretty comparable source. Out of two essential poly unsaturated fatty acids, Omega 6 (n-6) are known to be pro-inflammatory while Omega 3 (n-3) act as an anti-inflammatory agent by inhibiting the formation n-6s proinflammatory eicosanoid derivatives. Chia seeds, and Flax seeds are also high in n-3.
Be it from fish oil or from vegetarian sources, incorporating n-3 into your diet is extremely important if you want to embrace an Anti-Inflammatory lifestyle.
Interested in finding n-3 and n-6 contents of different cooking oils? Suggested read,
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is well known and well researched for it’s Anti-Inflammatory effects. Phenolic compounds in EVOO are credited for it’s inflammation fighting properties, and know that refined Olive oil does not have them! On an average extra virgin or cold pressed oils tend to retain polyphenolic compounds which is what makes them a healthier option. Though sufficient research is lacking but we can safely assume that not just EVOO but other cold pressed oils like Mustard, Peanut, Sesame, Safflower etc. too must exhibit similar Anti-Inflammatory properties due to their high phenolic content.
Regular consumption of dark chocolate is associated with low levels of CRP (inflammatory marker). Flavonoids in dark chocolate gives it this protective effect. Dark chocolate is also good for heart as it increases levels of plasma HDL (good cholesterol). It also beats both black tea and red wine in flavonoid content. But beware to not eat more than 1-2 squares each day as
excess calories -> weight gain -> Obesity -> More Inflammation
Green Leafy Vegetables
Dark Green vegetables like Spinach, Kale, Fenugreek, Dill leaves are a great source of anti aging and anti inflammatory vitamins like Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Broccoli is especially high in Vitamin E.
Tomatoes, Bell Peppers and Beetroot
Lycopene in Tomatoes, Capsaicin in Bellpeppers, and Betalain in Beet Roots are all excellent antioxidants and also anti-inflammatory agents. Always remember, more colorful the vegatable, better it is for your health!
Beans and Pulses
Mediterranean diet which is rich in EVOO, fresh fruits, vegetables and also beans is known to reduce inflammation. Beans especially being a rich source of fiber and polyphenolic compounds have shown to reduce CRP levels. Bonus: They are also a great source of vegetarian protein.
Quercetin found in raw onions and organosulfur compounds found in crushed garlic (alliin, allicin) are all powerful antioxidants and they also exhibit strong Anti-Inflammatory properties.
Apart from being a source of MUFA the good fat, Avocado also contains significant amount of Vitamin E, Selenium and Zink, all of which act in a synergy to effectively combat inflammation. In one human study researchers compared levels of inflammation in people who ate a hamburger (high trans fat meal). In the group that ingested hamburger alone, 4 hours post prandial there was a significant increase in the level of inflammatory marker IL-6. But subjects that ingested a slice of avocado with the hamburger showed no increase in IL-6 levels. 
Now, if you have made it to the end of this list, you will notice that if you were to incorporate all these into a diet, it will be a “High fiber, hi in colorful fruits and vegetables, almost vegetarian (except for fish) diet”. What this diet lacks is pro-inflammatory trans fats, refined and processed foods and red meats. And with Onions and Garlic, Ginger and Turmeric, and Chillies and Peppers… this diet is anything but bland!
And for reading the entire article, here is your reward-
She is a Registered Dietitian who does not believe in dieting; She has a Master’s Degree in Nutrition but she is not your “I know it all Nutrition Guru!”; She loves food but loves talking about food even more. Her articles are a direct reflection of her personal quest where nutrition science meets real life! Oh, and she is owned by a 3 m.o. naughty kitten 🙂