Anti-Inflammatory Diet For Dummies book cover

Anti-Inflammatory Diet For Dummies

Authors:
Artemis Morris ,
Molly Rossiter
Published: August 25, 2020

Overview

Fight inflammation and manage chronic pain and fatigue with this essential guide

Arthritis, stroke, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes all have roots in chronic inflammation. No book explores the connection in a more accessible and straight-forward fashion. Packed with the latest information that can have a real and immediate impact on your health, the brand-new edition includes:

  • 100 tasty and nourishing recipes
  • Key anti-inflammation foods to incorporate in your diet
  • Inflammatory foods to avoid
  • The latest in anti-inflammatory superfoods
  • Meal plans to fit any lifestyle
  • The latest in lifestyle factors that impact inflammation

Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Dummies, 2nd Edition explores the link between inflammation and diseases like stroke, chronic respiratory disease, heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes. Filled with actionable and practical tips for avoiding inflammatory foods and activities, this book constitutes the first update in the series in ten years.

Fight inflammation and manage chronic pain and fatigue with this essential guide

Arthritis, stroke, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes all have roots in chronic inflammation. No book explores the connection in a more accessible and straight-forward fashion. Packed with the latest information that can have a real and immediate impact on your health, the brand-new edition includes:

  • 100 tasty and nourishing recipes
  • Key anti-inflammation foods to incorporate in your diet
  • Inflammatory
foods to avoid
  • The latest in anti-inflammatory superfoods
  • Meal plans to fit any lifestyle
  • The latest in lifestyle factors that impact inflammation
  • Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Dummies, 2nd Edition explores the link between inflammation and diseases like stroke, chronic respiratory disease, heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes. Filled with actionable and practical tips for avoiding inflammatory foods and activities, this book constitutes the first update in the series in ten years.

    Anti-Inflammation Diet For Dummies Cheat Sheet

    Choosing an anti-inflammation diet is one way to control inflammation in your body. For anyone living with chronic inflammation, finding a way to decrease symptoms and, if possible, erase the “bad” inflammation altogether, is a blessing. In many cases, living with inflammation doesn’t have to be permanent — you can treat, prevent, and sometimes even eradicate those inflammatory issues by knowing which foods are triggers for you, which foods are bad for everyone, and how to change your diet accordingly. [caption id="attachment_272553" align="alignnone" width="556"] © arlo/Shutterstock.com[/caption]

    Articles From The Book

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    Anti-Inflammatory Diet Articles

    Fight Inflammation with Cardiovascular Activity

    Sticking to a regular high-intensity workout that’s short in duration — about 15 to 30 minutes daily — reduces your risks of obesity and therefore your risks of metabolic syndrome. Physical exercise is also associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular and heart disease and improved cognition and brain function. Exercise also acts as a natural antidepressant. Exercise promotes the release of feel-good endorphins, helps the immune system (when you don’t overdo it), helps with weight loss and maintenance, and relieves stress. Increased blood flow and sweating enhance detoxification, and exercise helps your body use sugars instead of storing them in the liver, which helps improve problems with insulin resistance. Furthermore, building and maintaining lean muscle mass helps your metabolism to function optimally and reduce inflammation. Lean muscle mass, rather than fat, helps with inflammation because excess fat cells cause toxicity and inflammatory disruption in the signals of the endocrine system. In this article, explore ways you can get the blood flowing and build a little muscle in the process.

    Remember to stretch before and after every workout. Stretching has a way of fooling your muscles into thinking they’re already or still working, enhancing the benefits of your workout by up to 20 percent. Stretching also helps your muscles begin to contract more smoothly, alleviating some of the pain you may feel early on.

    Start off simply with walking and swimming

    Walking is the best place to start, particularly because it’s something you likely do to some degree every day. Walking is an easy and excellent way to boost your heart rate, it’s easier on your joints than running, and it’s something you can do at any time. Walk around the house in inclement weather, or go up and down the stairs a few times. Better yet, get a treadmill and walk for miles, even when it’s raining.

    The best way to make an exercise routine stick is to make it enjoyable. When you’re walking, find a pleasant route with great things to see or one that makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. With other exercises, try playing some upbeat music or exercising with friends.

    Integrate more walking into your routine by doing so gradually. Watch a step-tracking app, use a smart fitness device, or keep a pedometer handy, and work weekly to boost the number of steps you take each day. If you’re walking 2,000 steps now, for example, shoot for 2,500 next week. Keep that up for a week and then shoot for another 500-step boost. Swimming is another great way to get your heart pumping. The water works to soothe the joints rather than put extra stress on them, so swimming is therapeutic as well as aerobic. If you have access to a pool, try to incorporate 30 minutes of swimming into your routine three to four times a week. When you get your body ready, you can step the workout up a notch, being sure to incorporate 30 minutes of exercise into your day at least three times a week.

    Get it going: stimulating exercises

    The following sections guide you through a few moves that are sure to get your heart going. Be sure to have an exercise mat, some water, and plenty of room to get the most out of your workout. Doing these exercises in sequence is a great start to a good fitness routine, and altogether you’ll have about a 20-minute workout. Don’t be afraid to do each exercise a little longer or find another to add to the routine if you want to stretch your workout to 30 minutes.

    Squat thrusts

    These squat thrusts are a great way to start your exercise routine and get your heart rate nice and high while working your entire body.
    1. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart.
    2. Squat to the floor, placing your hands directly in front of you and about shoulder-width apart.
    3. With your weight on your arms, very quickly jump your feet behind you so that you’re in a push-up position; then jump back and stand up.
    Try to do 10 repetitions within a minute. Pause for 30 seconds and then do another set of 10. Pause for another 30 seconds and do a third set of 10.

    If your inflammation is in your knees or hips, be sure to consult a physician before trying squat thrusts, and start with shorter, slower repetitions.

    Mountain climbers

    As with squat thrusts, mountain climbers raise your heart rate rather quickly.
    1. Begin in a push-up position with your legs out straight.
    2. Bring your right knee in to your chest, resting your foot on the floor.
    3. Quickly jump and switch legs, returning the right leg to a straight line and bringing the left knee up.
    Continue alternating legs as quickly as you can for a full minute. Pause for 30 seconds and repeat for another minute. Take another 30-second break before doing a final minute of mountain climbers.

    Be sure to consult a physician if your inflammation is in your legs, because mountain climbers may exacerbate rather than relieve some of the pain.

    Deep squat lunges

    These lunges are great for raising your heart rate without the added pressure on your knees and hips. If you have inflammation in your legs, these lunges will aid in the healing process without risking re-injury.
    1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms at your sides.
    2. Step your left foot out to the left, bending your left knee and extending your right leg in a side lunge. As you lunge to the left, raise your right arm over your head and reach left. Bring your left arm across your hips and reach right, as shown in the following figure (A). Be careful not to let your left knee extend past your toes.
    3. Return to your starting position, with feet shoulder-width apart and arms at your sides.
    4. Repeat Step 2, this time lunging to the right and reaching your left arm up and over your head, as shown in the following figure (B).
    5. Return to your starting position.
    6. Continue lunges for 5 minutes, alternating sides. Try to stretch a little farther with each lunge.

    Invisible jump rope

    This exercise raises your heart rate and lets you control how quickly it climbs based on how fast you jump.
    1. Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart. Keeping elbows at your sides, pretend you’re holding a jump rope.
    2. Begin twirling “the rope” and jumping.
    3. Continue for five minutes, varying speeds.

    Be careful if you’re having trouble with your knees, because the bouncing can create a painful impact.

    Slow it down: relaxing moves

    Not quite ready for moving fast, or need something to help you cool down? Here are a few moves that keep your heart rate up without putting strain on your joints.

    Intermittent leg lifts

    These leg lifts are a much less aerobic move than some exercises and therefore shouldn’t cause additional strain on any of your joints. It’s a great starter move for people who suffer inflammation pain in the hips and/or knees.
    1. Lie on your back on your exercise mat, arms at your sides with hands flat.
    2. Keeping your legs together, raise your feet 6 inches; hold them up for 10 seconds.
    3. Pressing your hands to the floor for support, raise your feet another 6 inches and hold for 10 seconds.
    4. Again, pressing your hands to the floor for support, raise your feet one more time, this time so your legs and torso form a right angle; hold for 10 seconds.
    5. Slowly begin lowering your feet, holding your feet 12 inches off the ground for 10 seconds and at 6 inches for 10 seconds.
    6. When your feet are back on the floor, rest for 15 seconds and repeat. Perform this exercise four times.
    After you get this move mastered, add some variation by holding a ball between your feet as you raise your legs. First use a playground ball, and then up in size until eventually you work with a stabilizer ball.

    Stabilizing ab crunch

    This ab crunch is a great exercise to help reduce some of that dangerous belly fat while at the same time increasing your heart rate. The stability ball provides support to your lower back.
    1. Get out your stability ball and put it on the center of your exercise mat.
    2. Stand in front of the ball with your feet at shoulder-width apart.
    3. Lower yourself so that you’re sitting on the ball.
    4. Cross your arms over your chest or clasp your hands gently behind your head and lie back, letting your back curve slightly with the ball.
    5. Slowly rise so that your shoulders come up off the ball, as shown.
    6. Repeat. Do 10 crunches, slowing increasing by 5 crunches over time.

    Anti-Inflammatory Diet Articles

    10 Anti-Inflammatory Supplements and Herbs

    Changing your diet to include anti-inflammatory foods, spices, herbs, and beverages is the first and most important step in the battle against inflammation and chronic disease. Getting a lot of good exercise — both heart-pumping cardiovascular workouts and relaxing yoga — is another good step. Finding those supplements — natural herbs and enzymes — that give your new diet that extra boost is an added bonus in the fight against inflammation. From herbs that keep migraines at bay to vitamins that help reduce the risk of cancer, supplements should be part of your daily routine. We discuss our top ten anti-inflammatory herb and supplement picks in this list.

    Always consult a physician or pharmacist who is knowledgeable in herbs and supplements and their interactions before trying any herbs or supplements on your own.

    Omega-3 fatty acids: mixed EPA and DHA from fish oils

    Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are two essential fatty acids derived from fish and some vegetarian sources. You can’t make these fatty acids in your body — that’s why they’re essential fatty acids — so you need to get them from food or supplements daily. EPA and DHA are anti-inflammatory superstars because they compete against a pro-inflammatory compound called arachidonic acid (AA) for incorporation into cellular membranes.

    Use fish (such as salmon and sardines) and fish oils as your primary sources of EPA and DHA. Vegetarian sources of omega-3 fatty acids (flax and chia, for example) contain alpha linolenic acid (ALA), which gets converted into DHA.

    If you can’t find fish that are low in mercury and other toxins, take a high-quality fish oil supplement with both EPA and DHA for an anti-inflammatory diet. Just as important as the positives that take place when you do supplement your diet with fish oils is what happens when you don’t. Some studies have linked an omega-3 deficiency to an increased risk of depression. Here are some basic tips to keep in mind before increasing your intake of mixed EPA and DHA from fish oils:
    • Dosing: Take 1 to 4 grams daily of a mixed EPA/DHA.
    • Cautions/contraindications: Because fish oils have benefits similar to blood thinners, they may increase the effect of pharmaceutical blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin).

    Ginger

    The root of the ginger plant has multiple anti-inflammatory benefits and helps reduce symptoms in inflammatory disorders. Benefits of gingerroot, commonly referred simply as ginger, include the following:
    • It decreases pain in disorders such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
    • It has been shown to improve brain function and protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
    • It decreases the risk of heart and cardiovascular disease by increasing circulation and preventing the clotting of blood.
    • It may be used as a prophylactic for migraine headaches.
    Here are some basic facts you should know about taking ginger:
    • Dosing: One to 2 grams of fresh or dried ginger a day can help with pain, aches, and inflammation. Drink 1 to 3 cups of ginger tea for aches and pains or add a @@bf/1/4-inch piece of peeled, diced ginger to your stir-fry.
    • Caution/contraindications: Ginger may interact with blood thinners like warfarin (Coumadin), so consult your physician before adding it to your diet in large amounts. People with gallstones or individuals who have experienced a peptic ulcer should take caution in taking ginger, as should anyone taking antacids.

    Turmeric/curcumin

    Turmeric comes from the root of the Indian Curcuma longa plant and is a main ingredient in curry. It contains an extract called curcumin that researchers have studied extensively for its multiple anti-inflammatory benefits. Curcumin lends the spice its bright orange color. Curcumin works in much the same way as ibuprofen but without the gastrointestinal side effects. Curcumin also works as an antioxidant and stimulates the immune system. However, turmeric doesn’t have a lot of curcumin, so in order to get the most out of this super spice, find a turmeric extract with high levels of curcumin. Here are some of the anti-inflammatory benefits of curcumin:
    • It has hepatoprotective effects, which protect against liver damage.
    • It helps with cognitive function and may decrease the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
    • It reduces the pain and inflammation symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
    • It works as a cancer preventative by inhibiting tumor promotion, inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, and reducing their blood supply.
    Here are some basic facts you should know about taking curcumin:
    • Dosing: For anti-inflammatory benefit, you may need to take 500 milligrams up to three times a day. Curcumin is fat soluble, so you may want to take it with a fatty meal.
    • Caution/contraindications: People with gallstones or obstructed bile ducts shouldn’t take curcumin without first consulting a physician. It can increase risk of serious bleeding, so people with bleeding disorders or those who are taking blood thinners shouldn’t take it either.

    NAC (N-acetyl cysteine)

    N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a derivative of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. NAC reduces free-radical damage and stops inflammation by acting as an antioxidant. Here are some of the anti-inflammatory benefits of NAC:
    • It promotes liver detoxification.
    • It helps lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by decreasing
    • It prevents bronchitis and improves the condition of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
    • It helps relieve compulsive psychiatric disorders.
    Here are some basic facts you should know about taking NAC:
    • Dosing: A general safe dose is 600 milligrams once or twice a day. Always consult your physician before starting any new herbs or
    • Caution/contraindications: NAC is generally safe, although people taking blood pressure medications, diabetes medications, and anticoagulants should avoid NAC due to some gastrointestinal side effects. Pregnant women should also avoid taking NAC.

    Zinc

    Zinc is a mineral that plays an important role in the human body; in fact, it’s necessary for a healthy immune system. Not having enough zinc can lead to an increased risk of disease and inflammation.

    Although zinc is found naturally in many foods, it’s also available as a supplement. Whether you get your zinc from your diet or by taking supplements, make sure to get the right amounts.

    Here are some benefits of zinc:
    • It activates T lymphocytes (T cells) that regulate immune responses.
    • It affects your learning process and how memories are formed.
    • It aids in healing wounds and rashes.
    • It can shorten the duration of the common cold.
    Here are some basic facts you should know about taking zinc:
    • Dosing: A person needs a small amounts per day — just 40 milligrams for those over the age of 20.
    • Caution/contraindications: Zinc is likely safe when taking less than 40 milligrams per day. Anything higher than that cause anemia, fevers, coughing, pain, and fatigue. Prolonged use of more than 100 milligrams per day may lead to a higher risk of prostate cancer.

    Boswellia

    Boswellia, the tree resin from the Boswellia serrata plant, is also called Indian frankincense. It contains boswellic acid and alpha and beta boswellic acid, which researchers found to have anti-inflammatory properties in laboratory research. Boswellia is an arthritis pain reliever in that it decreases the breakdown of cartilage and helps keep the joints lubricated. For autoimmune disease, boswellia appears to inhibit the chemical signals of autoimmune disease and reduce the formation of antibodies, the body’s attack cells. Among boswellia’s benefits are the following:
    • It decreases inflammation in osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis, and general aches and pains.
    • It decreases inflammation in inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
    • It may help decrease inflammation in asthma and allergies.
    • It has been shown to prevent cancer cell growth and help with programmed cancer cell death in colon cancer.
    Here are some basic facts you should know about taking Boswellia:
    • Dosing: People with arthritis and inflammatory disorders can use generally about 300 milligrams three times a day.
    • Caution/contraindications: Boswellia is generally safe.

    Vitamin D

    Vitamin D is probably one of the easiest nutrients to obtain, yet it’s one in which the majority of people have deficiencies. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is stimulated in the skin by exposure to the sun and is found in small amounts in some foods. To get the most benefits, be sure to take vitamin D3. The following are among vitamin D’s many anti-inflammatory benefits:
    • It prevents osteoporosis and osteopenia and reduces the risk of bone fracture.
    • It lowers the risk of autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and MS, and it improves symptoms in people with such disorders.
    • It protects against heart and cardiovascular disease.
    • It decreases the risk of cancer, specifically breast, prostate, and colon cancers.
    Here are some basic facts you should know about vitamin D:
    • Dosing: In general, most adults need 1,000 to 5,000 IU (international units) of vitamin D daily, or 25 to 125 mcg. However, people with autoimmune disease and who are very deficient in the vitamin may need more to achieve optimal blood levels.

    Spending time outside really can boost your vitamin D levels. In fact, full-body sun exposure for about 12 minutes during the sunniest part of the day (midday) produces approximately 10,000 units of vitamin D.

    • Caution/contraindications: Toxicity due to too much vitamin D is rare; in fact, the only studies that showed toxicity used 100,000 IU or more given intravenously.

    Caution is advised with vitamin D in people with liver disease, high blood calcium levels, and granulomatous disorders such as sarcoidosis and tuberculosis (TB).

    For more complete coverage of vitamin D, check out Vitamin D For Dummies by Alan L. Rubin, MD (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.).

    Vitamin C

    Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that decreases inflammation by acting as a potent antioxidant. Vitamin C also decreases C-reactive protein, the protein that gets elevated when your body is inflamed. You can find high amounts of vitamin C in vegetables and fruits, including broccoli, papaya, bell peppers, oranges, cantaloupe, kiwi, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and strawberries; eating these foods raw or slightly cooked will provide optimum benefits. Among the anti-inflammatory benefits of vitamin C are the following:
    • It stimulates the immune system and prevents infections.
    • It may help lower blood pressure.
    • It helps people with cardiovascular disease by preventing free radical damage.
    • It’s being used in very high levels intravenously in cancer care (although consultation with an oncologist is necessary and appropriate).
    Here are some basic facts you should know about increasing your intake of vitamin C:
    • Dosing: You need 1 to 3 grams a day for optimal function in preventing oxidative damage due to free radicals and increasing immune support.
    • Caution/contraindications: Too much vitamin C causes diarrhea and stomach upset. For adults, the recommended daily maximum of vitamin C is 2,000 milligrams.

    Papain

    Papain, derived from the fruit of the papaya plant, helps reduce inflammation by breaking down harmful substances in the body and releasing substances such as reactive oxygen species (ROS) and cytokines that reduce inflammation and have antioxidant function. Here are some of papain’s anti-inflammatory benefits:
    • It’s used to help reduce inflammation and improve healing after surgery and trauma.
    • It can help reduce inflammation of the throat and may reduce symptoms of tonsillitis.
    • It aids in wound healing.
    • It may reduce pain and inflammation in rheumatic disease.
    Here are some basic facts you should know about taking papain:
    • Dosing: 1,500 milligrams a day is the dose used to treat inflammation and swelling after surgery or trauma. Take it on an empty stomach for best results.
    • Caution/contraindications: Some people may be allergic to papaya and papain. People with GERD and ulcers, as well as those taking immunosuppression therapy and radiation therapy, should be especially cautious when eating papain.

    Coenzyme Q10

    Coenzyme Q10 is a vitamin-like substance that provides energy to all the cells of your body. It’s an antioxidant, and it helps stabilize the cell membranes. You need coenzyme Q10 to complete many of your metabolic functions. For example, the mitochondria in your cells use it to make adenosine triphosphate (ATP), your cells’ main energy source. Among the anti-inflammatory benefits of coenzyme Q10 are the following:
    • It protects the heart and body against free-radical damage.
    • It reduces the risk of heart disease and helps normalize blood pressure.
    • It may protect the brain against damage and aids in treating Parkinson’s disease.
    • It helps reduce the occurrence of migraine headaches.
    Here are some basic facts you should know about taking coenzyme Q10:
    • Dosing: Generally, 60 to 100 milligrams a day provides good antioxidant protection.
    • Caution/contraindications: Coenzyme Q10 looks like the blood thinning vitamin, vitamin K, so coenzyme Q10 may interact with other blood thinners. Have your physician monitor your blood if you’re on a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin).

    Anti-Inflammatory Diet Articles

    Anti-Inflammatory Diet: 10 Benefits of Stopping Inflammation

    You know lowering inflammation can make you feel less bad, but did you know that anti-inflammatory foods can actually make you feel good? Eating right and getting rid of the pain and irritation of inflammation can elevate your mood, which in turn makes you want to move more, socialize more, and just do more. Without achy joints, you may be more willing to take that walk with a friend. Without irritable bowel syndrome, you may be less afraid to try that new restaurant down the street. And without high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) working against you, you may feel more like finishing that crossword puzzle, taking a stroll down memory lane, or just relaxing with the family. This list highlights ten benefits of combating inflammation with changes to your diet.

    Happier mood

    A little inflammation is the way your body heals, but too much inflammation going on for too long makes you feel crummy. You’re tired, your legs hurt, your arms hurt. You’re not sleeping well and have an increased risk for cancer or heart disease. It’s no wonder inflammation can put you in a bad mood. But decreasing inflammation doesn’t just get rid of all those reasons to feel bad; it also has a positive effect on your brain chemistry. You’ve heard the sayings about “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” or “all anyone needs is chocolate” to make them feel better. There’s more truth to that than you may think. Following an anti-inflammatory diet to reduce inflammation and lower risks for a number of chronic diseases also elevates the release of good neurotransmitters, the chemical signals in your brain. In other words, it makes you happy. People suffering from depression tend to have higher levels of inflammatory chemicals in their blood as well as a higher stress-induced inflammatory response. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, flax, and walnuts may be part of the anti-inflammatory response your brain gives, releasing neurotransmitters. Those neurotransmitters make you feel happier than they would if you didn’t get them in your diet or supplements on a regular basis; without the omega-3 fatty acids enhancing those neurotransmitters, getting healthy may take quite a bit longer. Inflammation affects your brain’s ability to make “feel good” neurotransmitters. Eating foods high in nutrient-dense proteins, the precursors to the amino acids that make neurotransmitters, and omega-3 fatty acids allows your brain to produce the neurotransmitters that make you feel good and that reduce inflammation. Eating junk food has the opposite effect — it creates inflammation and takes up calories that could be better spent on brain-healthy food. Decreasing stress and anger can do more than make you feel good. A Duke University study showed that men with more anger, depression, and hostility had higher levels of systemic inflammation, which also leads to increased risk of heart attacks and heart disease. Researchers studied U.S. veterans of the Vietnam War over a ten-year period and discovered that otherwise healthy men who are prone to anger, hostility, and depression produce higher levels of inflammation markers present in heart disease and stroke.

    There are some easy ways to combat mood swings: Take a walk outside, particularly on a sunny day. You’ll get an added dose of vitamin D and the sun will likely help boost your mood, as well. No sunshine? Get out the yoga mat and do a quick 15-minute workout or some yoga.

    Sharp brain

    The inflammation signal C-reactive protein (hsCRP), which is linked to heart and cardiovascular disease, also interferes with cognitive function in children and adults and is linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Following an anti-inflammatory diet doesn’t have to start later in life. In a 2018 study in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, researchers discovered that in a group of 800 Australian teens, those whose diet was heavy in red meats, processed foods, and sweets were more likely to be obese or have higher rates of mental illness. Those who followed an anti-inflammatory diet, such as a Mediterranean diet, didn’t show any of those symptoms. The brain benefits continue as you age. A 2019 European study found that following an anti-inflammatory may not only protect the brain but also inhibit neuroinflammation associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

    Lower risk of heart and cardiovascular disease

    Inflammation, not simply the high cholesterol levels that have been blamed for so long, is an initiator of heart disease. In fact, cholesterol is just your body’s way of trying to patch up the damage caused by inflammation. A blood test called the highly sensitive cardio C-reactive protein (hsCRP) measures how much of this inflammatory substance is being produced in your body and rates it according to your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If you have an elevated hsCRP, you can decrease your risk (and your inflammation numbers) by following an anti-inflammatory diet.

    To make the diet more specific for you, consult with a physician trained in identifying and addressing food allergies and sensitivities in order to identify which foods to avoid. The physician can also guide you in ways to follow an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle that’s tailored to your needs.

    Decreased cholesterol levels

    High cholesterol may not be the cause of cardiovascular disease, but it’s still a pretty meaningful risk factor. By following an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle, you can decrease your cholesterol because you’re removing foods from your diet that increase blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels (that also happen to increase inflammation), such as saturated fat, inflammatory protein sources, fried foods, and cured meats. You’re also increasing foods that decrease cholesterol (and inflammation), such as fresh vegetables, fruit, legumes, and whole grains. Studies have long shown that reducing dietary cholesterol is effective in reducing inflammation and its ties to heart and cardiovascular disease. Different foods can help lower cholesterol in a variety of ways. Some provide soluble fiber, which helps the body rid itself of the cholesterol before it causes harm, others work to lower the LDL, and still others contain substances from plants — sterols, stanols, and polyphenols — which help the body block absorption of the cholesterol.

    Decreased risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome

    High insulin levels are associated with insulin resistance and a diminished ability for the cells to take in glucose, and are a sign and precursor to diabetes, called prediabetes. Inflammation caused by high insulin levels makes the whole process get worse. Both high insulin and high glucose make the cells less responsive, and inflammation increases the risk of developing insulin resistance and glucose dysregulation. In a 2019 study out of Athens, Greece, researchers concluded that the link between inflammation and both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes is strong enough that further research into the link is imperative to help curb the prevalence of diabetes.

    Lose weight

    Eating foods that cause inflammation can make you gain weight. Simply removing the “bad” foods that contribute to inflammation may lead to weight loss. Toxins accumulate in your fat cells, making it harder for those cells to provide chemical signals to the rest of your body regarding metabolism and endocrine function. By reducing inflammation, you’re making sure that all your cells, including the fat cells, have the right membrane coating and are creating healthier signals for your body. The chemical signals help with weight stabilization and let your body function at its best. The endocrine system regulates weight and hormones, influences risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes, and more. When toxins accumulate in fat cells, they prevent the endocrine system from working correctly. Obesity and inflammation go hand-in-hand. A 2013 study out of East-West Medical Science, Kyung Hee University, Yongin, Korea, showed that obesity promotes inflammation, and by losing weight on an anti-inflammatory diet, with the help of various vitamins and nutrients, you can you can lower inflammatory risk factors that can lead to other chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

    Strong bones

    Decreasing inflammation with the right types of anti-inflammatory food choices increases your bone strength and helps prevent osteoporosis, the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density, and osteopenia, which is lower-than-normal bone mineral density. Search for foods with strong concentrations of phytonutrients — plant-based antioxidants that go to battle with the free radicals that kick off a variety of illnesses, including osteoporosis. Examples of phytonutrients include beta-carotene and lycopene.

    Decreased risk of autoimmune disorders

    Inflammation plays a major role in the development and onset of autoimmune disorders — disorders that occur when the immune system goes into hyperattack mode and destroys healthy tissue. Examples of autoimmune disorders are rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, Addison’s disease, Grave’s disease, and celiac disease. It makes sense that decreasing your risk of inflammation would also decrease your risk of developing those disorders. Identifying and addressing the dietary causes of inflammation that are contributing to the autoimmune response helps stop the inflammatory fire and decreases symptoms naturally. Researchers at the University of Manchester Medical School in England found that people who followed a diet rich in dietary carotenoids — the antioxidants that give fruits and vegetables their orange and yellow coloring — dramatically reduced their risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

    Affects risk and ability to fight cancer

    Multiple studies have shown that eating foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and that avoiding others, such as red meat and bad fats, lower cancer risk. But an anti-inflammation diet doesn’t just lower your cancer risk; it can also help people who already have cancer. Inflammation creates a state of chaos rather than calm for damaged or sick cells, especially cancer cells. Instead of attacking and killing the diseased cells, inflammation provides a “healing ground” for them, allowing them to not only grow but multiply. Maintaining a healthy diet of anti-inflammatory foods can help keep inflammation in check and the immune system working efficiently.

    Improved fertility

    Since the first edition of this book, infertility continues to be on the rise for both men and women. Fertility is highest when inflammation is low or nonexistent, and keeping inflammation down can lower the risk of pre-eclampsia and miscarriage during pregnancy. Decreasing inflammation with antioxidants and omega-3 fish oils has been shown to improve fertility and decrease complications of pregnancy. Decreasing inflammation also improves the risk factor of infertility tied into blood sugar imbalances, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder causing prolonged menstrual periods or excessive male hormone levels. Decreasing inflammation and toxins in your fat cells improve hormone regulation by affecting endocrine disruptors which can mess with your hormones. Preeclampsia is a condition in which the woman’s blood pressure is elevated, posing a threat to both mother and child. A 2018 study from the University of Mississippi Medical Center showed that preeclampsia is associated with proinflammatory cytokines. An anti-inflammatory diet can work to help regulate the cytokines and reduce the risk of preeclampsia in pregnancy.