You have likely heard the term anti-inflammatory lifestyle before, but what is it? Basically, it is a lifestyle (we don’t like to call it a diet as that implies restrictions and often limiting yourself in what you eat and with that the enjoyment of your food) intended to reduce inflammation in the body by eating the right foods and preparing them the right way. Read further to see our list of foods that promote or prevent inflammation.
What is an anti-inflammatory lifestyle?
An anti-inflammatory lifestyle consists mainly of foods that slow down inflammation in the body, primarily a variety of foods from the plant kingdom. At the same time, foods that can increase inflammation – for example, sugar and trans fats – are avoided.
Eat an anti-inflammatory lifestyle to slow down inflammation – why is that important?
The type of inflammation known as acute inflammation is not dangerous – it is the body’s natural reaction and protects us when we are exposed to threats (for example, chemicals and malicious bacteria) or injuries. This type of inflammation shows up as, for example, redness, swelling and increased heat. Low-grade or chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is when inflammation is systemic and constant and affects the body day in and day out, even though the body is not exposed to an immediate threat. This is the type of inflammation that can be harmful to your body. Low-grade inflammation can have several causes, such as being overweight, unhealthy diet, stress and smoking.
Benefits of anti-inflammatory foods
All in all, foods included in the anti-inflammatory lifestyle are very healthy and generally in line with current national dietary guidelines. Since an anti-inflammatory lifestyle primarily centres around a wide variety of plant-based foods, it is also rich in fibre, vitamins, antioxidants and offers a host of other benefits.
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List of anti-inflammatory foods
- Green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, etc.)
- Fruits and berries (strawberries, blueberries, cherries, oranges, etc.)
- Nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, etc.)
- Other vegetables (focus on variety and preferably eating what is in season)
- Gluten-free cereal grains (amaranth, sorghum, teff and quinoa)
- Legumes (various types of beans, peas and lentils)
- Fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut
- Anti-inflammatory spices (turmeric, cayenne pepper, cloves, Ceylon cinnamon, etc.)
- Wild-caught fish (e.g., mackerel, cod and saithe)
List of foods that cause inflammation
- Sugar (marmalade, jams, pastries, sweets, soft drinks)
- Refined carbohydrates (white bread, white pasta, white rice)
- Fried foods
- Red meat and processed meats (e.g. sausage and bacon)
- Hydrogenated fats (e.g. margarine)
- Dairy products
Tips for eating a more anti-inflammatory lifestyle
- Aim to have raw vegetables make up the majority of your diet
- Avoid heating your food to more than 100 °C
- Follow the 80-10-10-rule – 80 per cent fresh/frozen fruits and vegetables, 10 per cent vegetable fat (avocado, coconut, nuts, etc.), 10 per cent protein (legumes, wild-caught fish, etc.)
- Reduce meat consumption to a maximum of 300 grams per week
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