Simple Swaps for an Anti-inflammatory Diet

March 2022

Inflammation is your immune system’s way of fighting off foreign invaders. Some inflammation is helpful because it protects you from infections and illnesses. But when you have arthritis, chronic inflammation causes more pain, stiffness, and swelling in your joints.

Your diet plays a significant role in reducing or promoting inflammation. These tips, recommended by the Arthritis Foundation, can help you reduce inflammation and manage arthritis symptoms.

Stick to Healthy Fats

Omega-3 fats from salmon, sardines, walnuts, and flaxseeds reduce inflammation. Olive oil, nuts, and avocados contain compounds that block the body’s production of inflammatory compounds. Try to include more of these healthy fats in meals and snacks.

Saturated fats and refined oils can boost inflammation, so limit or avoid these sources:

  • Processed red meats like bacon, hot dogs, or sausages.
  • High-fat dairy foods like cheese, ice cream, and butter.
  • Fried foods.
  • Packaged foods made with soybean, corn, or vegetable oils.

Add Color to Every Plate

Fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices get their colors from antioxidant compounds that reduce inflammation and protect your joints. Some of the best choices include:

  • Berries, grapes, and pomegranates.
  • Carrots, sweet peppers, and sweet potatoes.
  • Leafy green vegetables.
  • Spices like turmeric, cinnamon, and oregano.

Limit Sugary Foods

The standard American diet is high in sugar and refined (white) carbs, which not only promote inflammation but also contribute to weight gain, putting further stress on your joints. While it’s OK to treat yourself occasionally, try to limit these foods:

  • Desserts and pastries.
  • White bread, bagels, pasta, and rice.
  • Sodas and other sweetened beverages.

Instead, replace them with naturally sweet fresh fruits, whole grain carbs (100% whole wheat, oats, brown rice), and unsweetened seltzer water or tea.

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