The 5 Principles Of An Ideal Anti-Inflammation Diet
The right anti-inflammatory diet begins by eliminating foods that trigger or exacerbate inflammation. They include sugary processed foods, foods high in omega-6 fatty acids like grain-fed beef, and foods cooked in vegetable oils, as well as potential food sensitivities like gluten and dairy. The focus instead should be on whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods.
With that in mind, these five principles can optimize the perfect anti-inflammatory eating plan that helps you lose weight and feel better.
The 5 principles of anti-inflammatory eating:
1. Increase omega-3-rich foods.
While eating too many omega-6 fatty acids in food like grain-fed meat and vegetable oil can elevate inflammation, omega-3 fatty acids trigger anti-inflammatory messenger molecules. Balance is key: You want about equal amounts of omega-3s and omega-6s. Unfortunately, many American diets contain up to 50 times more omega-6s, which partly explains the increase in inflammatory diseases like cancer. Omega-3-rich foods include wild-caught, fatty fish, grass-fed meats, pasture-raised eggs rich in omega-3s (if you can tolerate them), freshly ground flax and chia seeds, and almonds and walnuts. Vegans and vegetarians should look for a plant-derived DHA supplement to get those longer-chain omega-3s.
2. Focus on whole, anti-inflammatory foods.
Those include low-sugar fruits like berries and avocado, tons of leafy and cruciferous vegetables, and even gut-healing nourishing foods like bone broth. My favorites include spinach, which is packed with anti-inflammatory compounds like quercetin and strawberries, which are rich in antioxidant, anti-inflammatory phenols like anthocyanins and ellagitannins.
3. Don't fear healthy fats.
The right dietary fats—including omega-3s, monounsaturated fats, and yes, even healthy saturated fats—can be powerfully anti-inflammatories. Opt for avocados, olives, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, and protein from animals fed their natural diet like wild-caught fish and pasture-raised chickens.
4. Fit it into your budget.
Critics argue that the Mediterranean diet’s emphasis on expensive staples like extra-virgin olive oil, organic produce, and wild-caught fish go beyond the average person’s budget, but a well-designed anti-inflammatory diet need not break your budget. Here are seven easy ways to save a ton of money while eating to beat inflammation.
5. Factor in lifestyle.
Lowering inflammation goes beyond your diet. You want to make sure you're getting enough sleep, keep your stress levels down by meditating, reduce your exposure to toxic elements (swapping out the products you use daily is a great start!), and exercise, but never for more than an hour (at which point inflammation levels actually go up!). Here's more about lifestyle elements to reduce inflammation.
See? It's not nearly as hard as you'd think. If you stick to these rules, you'll be surprised at the powerful results.
Want to know the best diet for inflammation? I ranked all of them here, from Mediterranean to vegan to paleo.
Vincent M. Pedre, M.D., medical director of Pedre Integrative Health and president of Dr. Pedre Wellness, is a board-certified internist in private practice in New York City since 2004. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Biology at Cornell University before attending the University of Miami School of Medicine and completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He has appeared on the Martha Stewart Show and ABC and is the author of Happy Gut: The Cleansing Program to Help You Lose Weight, Gain Energy, and Eliminate Pain. Dr. Pedre is a clinical instructor in medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and is certified in yoga and medical acupuncture.