Combating Inflammation with Nutrition: The Anti-Inflammatory Diet

The anti-inflammatory diet offers a promising path to better health, potentially reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

Manuela Băbuș
Medical Writer
Combating Inflammation with Nutrition: The Anti-Inflammatory Diet
source: Freepik

Chronic inflammation is a silent threat, often fueled by lifestyle choices, particularly our diet.

Inflammation can progress, leading to chronic diseases including:

  • heart disease, 
  • metabolic syndrome, 
  • diabetes, 
  • inflammatory bowel disease, 
  • cancer, 
  • arthritis, 
  • Alzheimer's disease. 

A diet high in sugars and low in quality antioxidants, combined with a lifestyle that doesn't support our body's natural defences, can lead to inflammation.

Typical examples of ultra-processed foods include:

  • carbonated beverages, 
  • ready-to-eat snacks both sweet and salty, 
  • bread and pasta made with white flour
  • deep fried items (french fries, fried chicken, donuts)
  • various sweets, 
  • factory-packaged breads, 
  • rolls, cakes and pastries, 
  • processed meat products such as hot dogs, chicken and fish patties and other processed meat products, 
  • quickly prepared soups and noodle dishes.

It is important to check the ingredient list of prepared or processed foods. Many prepared foods contain hidden sugar.

Any food containing partially hydrogenated oils as an ingredient should be avoided as these are trans fats.

The anti-inflammatory diet is a way of eating that can reduce long-term inflammation and improve overall health.

There are some food types that can help bring inflammation down: omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin E, polyphenols, gut healthy food.    


Polyphenols are categorised into several classes, including flavonoids, phenolic acids, stilbenes, and lignans, each with unique properties and health benefits. They are known for their role in the prevention and management of various chronic diseases due to their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic properties.

Health Benefits of Polyphenols

  • Antioxidant Properties: They combat oxidative stress and reduce systemic inflammation.
  • Heart Health: Polyphenols can improve heart health by reducing insulin resistance,  blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Cancer Prevention: Some studies suggest a link between polyphenol intake and a reduced risk of cancers.
  • Gut Health: the gut microbiome converts polyphenols into bioactive compounds that have therapeutic effects.
  • Brain Health: Polyphenols may aid in the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases and improve cognitive function.

source: Freepik

Sources of polyphenols:

  • Fruits: Apples, cherries, grapes
  • Vegetables: Spinach, onions, potatoes
  • Nuts & seeds: Almonds, flaxseeds, walnuts
  • Beverages: Green tea, red wine, coffee
  • Whole grains: Whole wheat, oats, rye 

Don't forget herbs and spices like turmeric, ginger, cocoa and cinnamon, which are also packed with polyphenols!

Incorporating Polyphenols into Your Diet!

  • Include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts!
  • Cooking Methods: Some polyphenols can be lost during cooking, so opt for steaming or raw consumption when possible.
  • Moderation in Beverages: While red wine and coffee are good sources, they should be consumed in moderation.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids

In the realm of nutrition and health, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are often discussed for their significant impact on overall well-being. These polyunsaturated fats, essential for various bodily functions, must be obtained through diet, as the body cannot produce them on its own.

source: Freepik

Omega-3s, found in foods like fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. They play a crucial role in brain function, heart health, and may even help in reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

Omega-6s, on the other hand, are present in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds. While also essential, they are pro-inflammatory in nature. 

The Importance of a Balanced Ratio Omega-3/Omega-6

The key to harnessing the benefits of these fatty acids lies in maintaining an appropriate balance between omega-3 and omega-6 intake. Historically, human diets had a ratio of approximately 1:1 of omega-3 to omega-6. However, modern diets tend to be heavily skewed towards omega-6s, leading to an imbalance that can promote inflammation and contribute to health problems.

Health Benefits of Omega-3 and Omega-6

  • Heart Health: Omega-3s can reduce triglycerides, lower blood pressure, and decrease the risk of heart disease.
  • Brain Function: Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for brain development and cognitive function.
  • Inflammatory Response: While omega-6s support the body's natural defence mechanism, omega-3s can counteract excessive inflammation.
  • Chronic Disease Prevention: A balanced intake of these fats is associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases.

Omega-3 Rich Foods

  • Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines)
  • Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil
  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds

Omega-6 Rich Foods

  • Vegetable oils (sunflower, corn, soybean)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Processed and fried foods (contain added vegetable oils)

Achieving the Right Balance

  • Increase Omega-3 Intake: Incorporate more omega-3 rich foods into your diet.
  • Limit Omega-6 Sources: Be mindful of the consumption of vegetable oils and processed foods high in omega-6.
  • Read Labels: Check food labels for the type of oils used in products.

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Basics

The anti-inflammatory diet isn't a single, strict eating plan. Instead, it involves choosing foods that help reduce inflammation.

Key Components

  • Fruits and Vegetables: Rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals.
  • Whole Grains: High in fiber, reducing C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation).
  • Healthy Fats: Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and monounsaturated fats in olive oil.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Source of healthy fats and antioxidants.
  • Herbs and Spices: Turmeric and ginger have potent anti-inflammatory properties.

Foods to Avoid

  • Processed Foods: High in unhealthy fats and sugar.
  • Red Meat: Can contribute to inflammation when consumed in large amounts.
  • Refined Carbs: Such as white bread and pastries.
  • Fried Foods: High in trans fats.

Benefits of the Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Adopting an anti-inflammatory diet can offer numerous health benefits:

  • Reduced Risk of Chronic Diseases: Including heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
  • Improved Weight Management: A natural byproduct of cutting out processed foods.
  • Enhanced Gut Health: High-fibre foods promote a healthy gut microbiome.
  • Better Mood and Energy Levels: Thanks to a balanced, nutrient-rich diet.
source: Freepik

How to Start an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Transitioning to an anti-inflammatory diet involves making gradual changes in your eating habits.

Initial Steps

  • Increase Fruits and Vegetables: Aim for a variety of colours.
  • Choose Whole Grains: Such as brown rice and quinoa.
  • Incorporate Healthy Fats: Add nuts, seeds, and olive oil to your diet.
  • Limit Processed Foods: Gradually reduce intake of sugary and processed foods.


The anti-inflammatory diet offers a promising path to better health, potentially reducing the risk of chronic diseases. It emphasises whole, nutrient-rich foods while limiting processed items and sugars. As with any dietary change, it's important to approach this transition gradually and consider individual health needs and preferences.

Remember, a balanced diet is just one piece of the puzzle in maintaining overall health and well-being!

Talk to your doctor to determine an appropriate diet, physical activity level or medications for your specific condition!

Disclaimer: This article provides general information and should not replace individualised medical advice. If you have concerns about your health, consult with a healthcare professional.

Article Citations & Bibliography
  1. Nutrition to Neuroscience; Nutrients 2023, 15, 3204.
  2. Monteiro, C.A.; Moubarac, J.C.; Levy, R.B.; Canella, D.S.; Louzada, M.L.D.C.; Cannon, G. Household availability of ultra-processed foods and obesity in nineteen European countries. Public Health Nutr. 2018, 21, 18–26.
  3., accessed on 25 December 2023
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  6. Rana A. et al. Health benefits of polyphenols: A concise review; J Food B. 2022 Oct;46(10):e14264. doi: 10.1111/jfbc.14264
  7. Maddalena Corsini et al. Polyphenols: From Theory to Practice”, Foods. 2021 Nov; 10(11): 2595. Published online 2021 Oct 27. doi: 10.3390/foods10112595  
  8. accessed on 29 December 2023   

Please note that the information provided on this blog is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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Manuela Băbuș.
Medical Writer