How do you follow a plant-based anti-inflammatory diet? Read on for all the dos and dont’s, as well as suggested foods to eat.
What is an anti-inflammatory diet?
There’s the DASH diet to help cut your sodium intake and lower your blood pressure, the Mediterranean diet for overall wellness and weight loss, and vegetarian and vegan diets to reduce your environmental impact. But what about pesky inflammation?
By eating foods rich in disease-fighting antioxidants, you can combat inflammation without only relying on the pharmacy. Fight inflammation with the foods you eat, starting now!
Luckily a plant-based anti-inflammatory diet, which decreases these symptoms, is pretty easy to follow. An anti-inflammatory meal plan is more or less a healthy diet that focuses on mostly whole foods while minimizing packaged and processed products.
And research shows that eating a plant-based anti-inflammatory diet is really beneficial.
In a review study in The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the study authors found that when people ate diets higher in complex carbs, healthier fats (and lower in saturated fats), protein, fiber, fruits, veggies, and anti-inflammatory nutrients, they reported better quality sleep.
Why fight inflammation?
If you started reading this article and realized you can’t remember a single thing about inflammation from your high school health class, let me give you the Cliff’s Notes version.
Inflammation is a totally normal immune system response to things like toxins, infections, and injuries that works to help your body heal.
But if it goes on for too long—aka chronic inflammation—you could run into major health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, or cancer.
Luckily, combating inflammation can be as simple as making a few changes to your diet. Ready to learn how to fight inflammation with food?
Who can benefit from an anti-inflammatory diet
Truly anybody can benefit from a plant-based anti-inflammatory diet. In particular, following it can be very beneficial for anyone who suffers from a chronic condition that involves inflammation.
Such inflammatory conditions include:
- rheumatoid arthritis
- Crohn’s disease
- Hashimoto’s disease
- additional autoimmune conditions
Foods to eat
When it comes to foods to eat on a plant-based anti-inflammatory diet, you have many foods to embrace. These include the following.
Fruits and vegetables
DYK that amping up your fruit and veggie intake could lower your risk of developing heart disease and other diseases? That’s because these nutritious foods play a role in combating chronic inflammation.
What are vegetables good for? If you guessed practically everything health related, you’re right! Did you know they help keep your mind sharp, thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties?
Plus, vegetables provide lots of vitamins and minerals, and research shows that eating a nutritious diet including veggies helps maintain a healthy weight.
Embrace fruits and vegetables, which contain antioxidants. These antioxidants, in combination with the plethora of other nutrients that vegetables offer—help lower inflammation throughout the body.
Fruits and vegetables on a plant-based anti-inflammatory diet don’t have to be fresh. You can embrace dried produce, too, such as:Apples
Turmeric and ginger
No doubt many spices and herbs boast anti-inflammatory properties. If you’re looking to reduce inflammation naturally, turmeric is one of the first ingredients you should add to your plant-based anti-inflammatory diet.
The spice’s polyphenols boast anti-inflammatory capabilities, and the benefits don’t stop there. The best part?
You don’t have to eat curry every day to reap turmeric’s perks. And guess what? Turmeric isn’t the only pungent spice full of anti-inflammatory benefits.
Warming ginger has long been used as nature’s medicine (you probably know it as an aid for stomachaches), and now it’s making waves for its inflammation-busting benefits.
More anti-inflammatory foods
You just learned about a bunch of anti-inflammatory foods. You can also add these to your must-eat list for a plant-based anti-inflammatory diet.
Foods to avoid
When it comes to foods to avoid or eat less of for a plant-based anti-inflammatory diet, there are several on the list.
I’ll admit, some nights it can be so hard to go to bed without having a sweet treat.
But if you’re always opting for a doughnut over a slice of watermelon or even a low-sugar dessert like a square of dark chocolate to soothe your cravings, you could be racking up the calories—and fueling inflammation.
Eating too much sugar can be inflammatory and can contribute to obesity and chronic disease. This is one of the reasons why it’s suggested that we limit added sugar to no more than 50 grams per day.
We’ve long known these fats are bad for us: They raise levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol in the body and increase risk of heart disease and obesity and may even cause memory loss.
They truly should be avoided on a plant-based anti-inflammatory diet. Not only do they contribute to chronic disease, they can also lead to other health problems.
Research in the Journal of Health Psychology shows that eating trans fats may upset your mood. In the study, San Diego researchers analyzed trans fat intake of 4,992 subjects.
People taking in more trans fats had a harder time with emotional awareness and clarity.
The study authors didn’t note why the finds were such—but another study linking trans fat intake with a higher risk of depression notes that trans fats may alter mood by increasing inflammation in the body.
Eating more trans fats is also associated with having a higher BMI and exercising less, per the San Diego research.
The FDA has ruled that trans fats are not “generally recognized as safe” for use in human food. The administration has mandated that artificially created trans fats—partially hydrogenated oils—must be removed from ingredient lists.
However, a company may petition for special permission to use a partially hydrogenated oil.
Note that trans fats occur naturally in some meat and dairy products and in some natural oil products such as some shortenings.
More foods to avoid
On a plant-based anti-inflammatory diet, you may also want to avoid:
- high-sodium foods
- large amounts of alcohol
- large amounts of highly processed foods
When it comes to following a plant-based anti-inflammatory diet, there are many foods to embrace. These include fruits, vegetables, and spices. But there are also many foods to avoid or limit, including sugar and trans fats.
If you need help meal planning for an anti-inflammatory diet, visit my shop for inspiration.
- A review study in The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,
- Trans Fatty Acid Intake And Emotion Regulation, Journal of Health Psychology
- Research in the Journal of Health
I’d love to hear from you! Tell me about your journey on a plant-based anti-inflammatory diet.
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