7-Day Anti-Inflammatory Diet Plan And Foods To Reduce Inflammation

Written by Charushila Biswas
ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition

Many of us suffer from a certain degree of chronic inflammation. This slow and continuous inflammation is the main cause behind IBS/IBD, arthritis, obesity, asthma, acne, depression, fatigue, insomnia, and heart disease (1), (2). An unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, stress, age, smoking, hormonal imbalances, and inadequate sleep contribute to chronic inflammation (2). Thankfully, you can counteract these with the science-backed anti-inflammatory diet.

This post brings to you doctor’s and nutritionist’s advice. You will know what to eat and avoid to reduce inflammation, a 7-day anti-inflammatory diet chart, and the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet. Scroll down to get the expert’s insights.

Definition: What Is An Anti-Inflammatory Diet?

An anti-inflammatory diet is a nutritional strategy to help reduce inflammation in the body. It includes foods rich in omega-3-fatty acids, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. This diet excludes processed foods, refined sugar, refined flour, and trans fats.

Dr. Liia Ramchandra, Pharm.D., Ph.D., says, “The anti-inflammatory diet is not a specific regimen but rather a style of eating. The Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet are examples of anti-inflammatory diets.” She adds, “They soothe and calm your body and combat the inflammatory response in the body!” This eating habit that includes natural foods may help reduce and reverse (sometimes) various inflammatory diseases and conditions.

What diseases and conditions does inflammation cause? Scroll down to find out.

List: Inflammatory Conditions And Diseases

Chronic inflammation can cause many issues. These may be short-term or long-term. However, they warrant immediate attention to prevent aggravation. Here is the list of diseases and conditions caused due to unchecked inflammation (2):

  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Colitis
  • Allergy
  • Acne
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Asthma
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Lupus
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia

An anti-inflammatory diet can be beneficial for you even if you don’t have any of the aforementioned conditions. Dr. Brittany Ferri, Ph.D., says, “This is good for anyone with inflammation in the body, but it can also be good for people who generally want more energy or are recovering from fatigue.”

There are several diseases and conditions an anti-inflammatory diet can help treat. But how exactly does this diet work? Know the science behind the anti-inflammatory diet in the following section.

Benefits: How The Anti-Inflammatory Diet Works

1. Is Rich In Antioxidants

The anti-inflammatory diet includes fruits and vegetables loaded with antioxidants like vitamins, polyphenols, and anthocyanins (3). Antioxidants help scavenge the harmful free oxygen radicals and reduce oxidative stress and inflammation (4). Oxidative stress and inflammation are linked to various diseases, as mentioned before (5). Therefore, consuming more vegetables and fruits can help reduce the risk of diseases and conditions caused due to inflammation.

2. Is Rich In Omega-3s

The anti-inflammatory diet includes foods rich in omega-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids. Foods consumed in Western diets are rich in omega-6, which disbalances the omega-3:omega-6 ratio. Dietary omega-3 fatty acid supplementation helps reduce inflammation by rebalancing the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid ratio to 1:1 (6 ). Scientific studies show that dietary omega-3 helps reduce inflammation and is beneficial for people with obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes (7), (8 ), (9).

3.May Stabilize Blood Sugar Levels

Insulin is a hormone that promotes the glucose uptake of cells from the bloodstream. Chronic inflammation has a direct link to obesity, which, in turn, may cause insulin resistance (10). Insulin resistance prevents the uptake of glucose from the blood. The blood sugar levels shoot up as a consequence and lead to diabetes type 2 (11). Research shows that an anti-inflammatory diet helps improve glycemic response and may prevent an uncontrolled spike in blood sugar levels (12).

4. May Improve Gut Microbiome

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are inflammatory bowel diseases characterized by chronic relapses. In addition to medical and surgical treatments, dietary therapy also helps control these conditions. Scientists discovered that going on an anti-inflammatory diet containing more fluids and avoiding fatty foods, dairy, and dietary fiber (as dietary fiber is tough to digest and taxes the digestive system) may help alter the gut microbiome in some people with IBD (13).

A separate study found that anti-inflammatory foods increased gut bacteria that improved mucosal protection in people with IBS/IBD (14). Improved gut microbiome was also found to have a positive effect on people with rheumatoid arthritis. An anti-inflammatory diet with omega-3 and probiotics showed promising results in those with rheumatoid arthritis (15). However, more information is warranted in this regard.

5. May Reduce Inflammatory Index

The Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII) is a literature-based dietary score developed to measure the impact of a diet on the inflammatory status of an individual. Higher the DII score, the higher the inflammatory potential of the diet and vice versa (16). A study found that an anti-inflammatory diet helps reduce DII and lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease (17).

6. May Reduce The Risk Of Depression

Chronic inflammation may also cause depression. A diet high in pro-inflammatory foods increases inflammation, which was found to have a direct link with one’s mental wellbeing. Researchers found that an anti-inflammatory diet may help reduce depression risk and its symptoms (18).

7. May Reduce Cancer Risk

Chronic inflammation is also linked to certain cancers. Scientists found that people with more DII (Dietary Inflammatory Index) had an increased risk of prostate, bladder, and kidney cancers (19). Therefore, consuming foods that reduce inflammation could be a potential dietary therapy to reduce the risk of prostate, bladder, and kidney cancers.

The anti-inflammatory diet is helpful for reducing the risk of certain serious diseases and conditions. Knowing the foods to avoid is the first step to starting with this diet. Keep reading.

Avoid: Foods That Cause Inflammation

Dr. Brittany Ferri, Ph.D., says, “Anything with lots of vegetable oil produces inflammation in the body, so it’s best to avoid this as well as white bread products like cookies, cakes, crackers, cereals, and the bread itself. Avoid foods with high omega-6 content, since these cause inflammation.”

Dr. Mark T. Cucuzzella, MD, FAAFP, Family Medicine Professor at West Virginia University School of Medicine says, “The primary driver of inflammation is excess sugar in the bloodstream, which comes from excess carbohydrates, causing insulin resistance and creating a ‘metabolic storm’ inside our bodies.”

Heather Hanks, a Michigan-based nutritionist, echoes the same train of thought. She advises consuming a diet that is “free from all processed foods, refined sugars, candy, soda, gluten, dairy, soy, and conventionally-raised animal products.”

Here’s the list of foods to avoid to reduce inflammation:

  • Sugary Foods: Candies, cakes, pastries, cookies, breakfast cereal, packaged fruit juices, and soda.
  • Processed Foods: Sausage, salami, ham, bacon, bread, crisps, biscuits, foods with artificial colors and flavors, foods with preservatives, antibiotics, and hormones, and ready-to-eat meals.
  • Allergens: Gluten (wheat and wheat products), lactose (milk and milk products), nuts, seafood, etc.
  • Trans Fats: Wafers, potato chips, fryums, crackers, packaged sauces and dressings, canned foods, frozen pizza, non-dairy creamers, microwave popcorn, lard, and margarine.
  • Lentils, Beans, And Grains (limit your intake): Lentils, grains, and beans must be consumed in moderation. Soak them in water for 3 to 4 hours before eating. Heather Hanks says, “These foods contain a hard-to-digest, inflammatory compound called phytic acid that binds to the walls of the digestive tract, induces inflammation, and prevents the absorption of certain nutrients. For this reason, many people do not consider grains and legumes as suitable foods for an anti-inflammatory diet. However, you can make these foods less inflammatory by soaking them in water overnight before cooking them. This helps deactivate the phytic acid and other hard-to-digest compounds and reduces the inflammatory effect.”

Now that you know what to keep out of your kitchen, get ready to restock your shelves with the following expert-recommended anti-inflammatory foods.

Eat: Expert Recommended Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Heather Hanks, nutritionist says, “Typically, an anti-inflammatory diet includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, organic meat, pasture-raised eggs, and healthy fats such as olive and avocado oils.” Dr. Brittany Ferri, Ph.D. says, “Fatty fish like salmon, sardines, anchovies, mackerel, etc. Peppers of any kind are especially good, hot or not. Green tea and spices serve a similar purpose of energizing the body to fight inflammation and other toxins.” Dr. Liia Ramchandra, Pharm.D., Ph.D., and owner of an allergen-free, gluten-free, and medically clean skincare brand provides a list of the 10 best anti-inflammatory foods that you must consume:

1. Wild Salmon

Salmon is packed with healthy omega-3s and is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It helps attack excess inflammation while providing a healthy dose of the good fats your body needs. You may also include other fatty fishes like sardine, mackerel, and tuna.

2. Dark Chocolate

Good news for chocoholics! A study at Louisiana State University found that the gut microbes in our stomach ferment chocolate into heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory compounds that shut down genes linked to insulin resistance and inflammation (20).

3. Ginger

The functional compounds found in ginger, like gingerols, shogaol, and paradols, make it a great anti-inflammatory ingredient that can potentially reduce the risk of cancer (21). Working a daily total of two tablespoons of fresh ginger into your meals can significantly reduce inflammation. Ginger can also be a spicy addition to your meals!

4. Broccoli

Broccoli is basically the poster vegetable for healthy eating. It’s invaluable for an anti-inflammatory diet. It’s an antioxidant powerhouse loaded with key vitamins, flavonoids, and carotenoids. These nutrients work to lower oxidative stress in the body, help fight chronic inflammation, and reduce the risk of cancer (22), (23).

5. Celery

Celery is loaded with antioxidants. These help repair free-radical damage that may otherwise contribute to inflammation and increase the risk of heart disease and cancer (24). Celery may also help treat inflammatory conditions like liver and kidney infections, joint pain, irritable bowel syndrome, skin disorders, and urinary tract infections (25), (26), (27).

6. Blueberries

Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and contain anthocyanins that turn off the inflammatory genes. They may also fight aging, help combat cancer, and aid in weight loss (28).

7. Walnuts

These nuts are a solid source of plant-based, anti-inflammatory omega-3s known as ALA. They also provide protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals like potassium and magnesium. Their unsaturated fatty acids and phytosterols may lower LDL cholesterol levels and the risk for heart disease (29), (30). Add walnuts to green leafy salads drizzled with olive oil for a satisfying anti-inflammatory meal. You also may grab a handful of walnuts while you are on the go.

8. Bone Broth

Dr. Liia Ramchandra, Pharm.D., Ph.D. says, “You might think bone broth is just another dietary fad, but it has earned its place in your kitchen. The stock is loaded with anti-inflammatory amino acids as well as gelatin. You benefit from their abilities to rebuild your gut lining and promote inflammation-fighting gut microbes.”

Pineapple

Pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain that serves as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent (31). It’s beneficial in reducing asthmatic symptoms. It also may help relieve post-exercise inflammation and help reduce the risk of cancer (32).

10. Bok Choy

Bok choy is another top anti-inflammatory food you must include in your diet. It’s an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It also contains omega-3s and vitamin K. Both these nutrients help lower inflammation (33). It has a sweet, mild flavor that makes it a great addition to most dishes.

You can also include these other foods in your diet:

  • Well-cooked leafy greens and veggies
  • Strained, freshly-pressed fruit juice
  • Green tea
  • Chamomile tea
  • Turmeric water
  • Aloe vera juice
  • Avocado
  • Olive oil
  • Flat rice
  • Gelatin
  • Strawberries, blackberries, and oranges
  • Soaked and peeled almonds
  • Tomatoes
  • Peeled cucumber
  • Peeled and boiled potato

Here’s a 7-day anti-inflammatory diet plan charted out with these foods in mind.

Diet Chart: 7-Day Anti-Inflammatory Menu Plan

Day 1

Early Morning – 370 ml water

Breakfast – Flat rice with yogurt

Lunch – ½ cup cooked greens + 2 oz. baked tuna

Snack – Gelatin

Dinner – Bone broth

Day 2

Early Morning – 370 ml water

Breakfast – Oatmeal with berries + green tea + 2 soaked almonds

Lunch – Chicken clear soup

Snack – 1 peeled and seeded cucumber

Dinner – Bone broth

Day 3

Early Morning – 370 ml water

Breakfast – Pineapple, avocado, and berry smoothie

Lunch – 3 oz. mackerel + ½ cup cooked vegetables

Snack – Freshly pressed and strained fruit juice

Dinner – Thai fish curry + ½ cup white rice + 1 cup cooked greens

Day 4

Early Morning (7:30 a.m.) – 370 ml water

Breakfast – Chia pudding with berries

Lunch – Roasted cauliflower and mushroom soup

Snack – Freshly pressed and strained apple juice

Dinner – Bone broth + 1 small piece of dark chocolate

Day 5

Early Morning (7:30 a.m.) – 370 ml water

Breakfast – Flat rice with yogurt and berries + 2 walnuts

Lunch – ½ cup quinoa + ½ cup boiled veggies + ½ cup mushrooms

Snack – Freshly prepared and strained celery juice

Dinner – 3 oz. baked fatty fish + ½ cup boiled veggies and greens

Day 6

Early Morning (7:30 a.m.) – 370 ml water

Breakfast – Baked eggs + ½ an avocado

Lunch – Bone broth + ½ cup boiled veggies

Snack – Gelatin + 1 cup green tea

Dinner – Blended lentil soup + ½ cup boiled veggies

Day 7

Early Morning (7:30 a.m.) – 370 ml water

Breakfast – Chia pudding with berries

Lunch – 3 oz. fatty fish + ½ cup cooked greens + ½ cup boiled veggies

Snack – 1 boiled potato + 1 cup green tea

Dinner – Bone broth + 1 small piece of dark chocolate

Following this diet plan for 7 days or more will help lower the inflammation in your body. However, if you have IBS/IBD, stomach or mouth ulcers, asthma, or cancer, talk to a registered dietitian and your doctor to get a customized anti-inflammatory diet chart prepared for you.

In addition to taking care of your diet, you also must tweak your lifestyle to reduce inflammation. Scroll down to the following section to know what lifestyle changes are ideal for you.

Tip: What Else To Do To Reduce Inflammation

  • Exercise regularly. Do whatever type of exercise that suits you (sports, dance, yoga, HIIT, running, swimming, etc.).
  • Stay hydrated. Drink at least 3 to 4 glasses of water.
  • Get adequate sleep. You need 7 to 8 hours of sleep to reduce inflammation in your body.
  • Reduce stress by engaging in productive activities like learning a new skill or working out.
  • Write a journal to keep track of your journey to becoming healthier.
  • Join support groups to stay motivated, exchange ideas and recipes, and find friends who understand the issue you are dealing with.
  • Talk to an expert therapist to learn how to deal with depression and anxiety.

Takeaway

Inflammation is the body’s natural healing response. However, chronic inflammation can cause serious diseases. This is where an anti-inflammatory diet can help. Consume foods that help reduce inflammation and avoid foods that cause inflammation. In addition to a healthy diet, you also must exercise regularly, sleep well, and seek help from support groups and a therapist to improve your health.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

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Charushila Biswas is a Senior Content Writer and an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition. She is an alumni of VIT University, Vellore and has worked on transgenic wheat as a part of her Masters dissertation from NRCPB (IARI), New Delhi. After completing her Masters, she developed a passion for nutrition and fitness, which are closely related to human psychology. This prompted her to author a review article in 2015. She has written over 200 articles on Fitness and Nutrition. In her leisure time, Charushila loves to cook and enjoys mobile photography.