Last Updated on February 23, 2024 by Lindsay Delk, RDN
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury and infection. But when inflammation becomes chronic it can lead to serious health issues. Chronic inflammation has been linked with many physical illnesses as well as mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. Eating a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods can help to reduce these symptoms. In this blog post, you’ll find a list of anti-inflammatory foods and access to a free anti-inflammatory food list pdf printable and printable inflammatory foods chart.
This post was written by Lindsay Delk, RDN. It is for informational purposes and is not intended to replace medical advice or instructions given by your healthcare provider.
This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
What Is Inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to something harmful in your body. When something harmful like an infection, physical trauma, or chemical irritant affects your body, your immune system triggers an inflammatory reaction. Your body releases white blood cells and proteins to protect itself from further harm.
But there are different types of inflammation – acute and chronic. Inflammation can be beneficial or harmful depending on its purpose and duration as discussed below.
Acute Vs Chronic Inflammation
> Acute Inflammation
Acute inflammation occurs quickly and is often short-term. It usually begins shortly after injury or infection, and it’s part of your body’s natural defense against harm. During acute inflammation, your body releases proteins and chemicals to protect itself from further damage.
The most common signs of acute inflammation are:
- loss of function in the affected area
Fortunately, most episodes of acute inflammation resolve on their own with the help of your body’s natural healing process. But it’s important to seek medical intervention if your inflammation isn’t improving or if you experience severe pain. With proper treatment, you can manage acute inflammation effectively and quickly.
> Chronic Inflammation
Chronic inflammation is a type of long-term, low-level inflammation that can last for months or even years. It occurs when the body’s natural immune response to an irritant persists and doesn’t turn off.
While acute inflammation is helpful for healing wounds and fighting off illnesses, chronic inflammation can have serious health consequences. This ongoing inflammatory state can lead to tissue damage and other health problems over time.
Many things can lead to chronic inflammation, including:
- poor diet
- lack of exercise
- exposure to environmental toxins
- certain illnesses
Treatment options for chronic inflammation vary depending on the underlying cause. But treatment often involves lifestyle changes like eating healthier and exercising.
Chronic Inflammation and Mental Health
Fortunately, there are proactive steps you can take to reduce your inflammation and improve your mental health, such as:
- eating an anti-inflammatory diet
- exercising regularly
- managing stress levels
- getting enough sleep
- taking time for relaxation
By making lifestyle changes and taking proactive steps to manage chronic inflammation, you can improve your mental health.
What Are Anti-Inflammatory Foods and Inflammatory Foods?
> Anti-inflammatory foods
Some types of foods may trigger inflammation in the body, while others can help reduce it. To maintain optimal health and wellbeing, it is important to be aware of which foods can cause inflammation and which ones can help fight it.
An anti-inflammatory diet can reduce chronic inflammation and protect against its damaging effects on the body. A diet rich in fiber, vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids, fermented foods, and antioxidants has been linked to reduced inflammation. So it makes sense that a Mediterranean dietary pattern can reduce markers of chronic inflammation. Read about the main pillars of a good mental health diet here.
> Inflammatory foods
Eating inflammatory foods on a regular basis leads to increased levels of inflammation in the body, which can contribute to various health conditions. The evidence suggests that a diet high in saturated fat and simple carbohydrates may be associated with increased levels of inflammation.
And this might explain why a typical “Western” dietary pattern is associated with an increased risk of mental health problems. So eating more anti-inflammatory foods and less inflammatory foods is protective against mental health problems.
Anti-Inflammatory Food List
(Access to the printable anti-inflammatory diet food list PDF is below this list.)
*Top anti-inflammatory foods are in all caps.
ARUGULA, asparagus, AVOCADOS, beets, bell peppers, BLACK BEANS, black-eyed peas, BROCCOLI, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, CANNELLINI BEANS, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chickpeas, cucumbers, edamame, fava beans, garlic, GREAT NORTHERN BEANS, green beans, KALE, KIDNEY BEANS, leeks, lentils, LIMA BEANS, mushrooms, NAVY BEANS, onions, PINTO BEANS, SPINACH, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini
APPLES, apricots, BLACKBERRIES, BLUEBERRIES, CHERRIES, CRANBERRIES, GRAPEFRUIT, GRAPES, kiwi, LEMONS, LIMES, mango, ORANGES, papaya, peaches, pears, pineapple, plums, pomegranates, RASPBERRIES, STRAWBERRIES
> Nuts & Seeds:
> Fatty Fish & Healthy Oils:
> Whole Grains:
> Herbs & Spices:
basil, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chives, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, dill, ginger, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, peppermint, rosemary, sage, thyme, TURMERIC
> Fermented Foods:
Inflammatory Foods Chart
> Ultra-Processed Foods:
many processed snack foods; many packaged chips, crackers, and cookies; some frozen pizzas; some frozen dinners; most fast food
> Added Sugars & Refined Carbs:
regular soda, sweet tea, lemonade, energy drinks, added sugar to coffee, candy, syrup, pastries, white pasta, white bread, some cereals
> Processed Meats:
bacon, hot dogs, pepperoni, processed lunch meats, sausage
> Fried Foods & “Bad’ Fats:
french fries, fried chicken, doughnuts, butter, margarine
Download your anti-inflammatory food list pdf and printable inflammatory foods chart below!
While pharmaceutical treatments may be necessary for some cases of inflammation, changes in your lifestyle can provide a natural alternative. By adding more of the foods on the anti-inflammatory food list printable and reducing the foods on the inflammatory food list, you can improve your overall health and well-being.