Chronic Inflammatory – Foods That Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation and Diet

What does a sprained finger or a splinter in a toe have in common with the risk for developing heart disease or colon cancer? Perhaps more than you might think. A growing body of research is linking the fundamental cause of these and other illnesses to an age-old immunological defense system -inflammation.

Inflammation is the body’s first defense against infection. It is the biological process that causes swelling in a sprained finger and turns the tissue around a splinter red. This acute inflammation is a healthy response of the body as it attempts to protect itself from foreign organisms and repair itself. However, when the immune system triggers a chronic inflammation response, it can lead to heart attacks, and diseases such arthritis as Alzheimer’s. The research relating to the impact of inflammation on numerous disease states is quickly evolving.


Causes of chronic inflammation –

  • Stress and Trauma
  • Persistent injury or infection (ulcer or tuberculosis)
  • Prolonged exposure to a toxic agent (smoke)
  • Auto-immune disease – self –perpetuating immune reaction that results in tissue damage and inflammation (Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis)
  • Obesity – Fat cells produce inflammation molecules
  • Gut permeability and the microbiome


Reducing Chronic Inflammation with Diet

In many cases, it may be possible to slow and even stop an inflammatory process by lifestyle changes such as managing stress and getting enough sleep as well as including foods with anti-inflammatory properties in your meals.


  • Fish (Omega-3)
  • Tomatoes ( Lycopene)
  • Pumpkin seeds and meat (zinc)
  • Sunshine and Vit D fortified milk or juice
  • Legumes and Whole grain foods ( fiber and B vitamin Niacin)
  • Turmeric spice ( Curcumin)
  • Plenty of Fruits and vegetables

Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Deregulation of the immune system is common In older people. This can contribute to both the severity of infectious diseases and the incidence of some autoimmune diseases that involve chronic inflammation. Supplementation with long chain omega-3 fatty acids (from fish or algae oils), or frequent consumption of fatty fish, has been shown to help reduce inflammatory activity in the body.
How Long Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids Improve the Immune System of Older Adults
Br J Nutr. 2015 Jun 10:1-10. [Epub ahead of print]
Overweight and obesity are frequently associated with a state of chronic inflammation. Four months of supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) reduced measures of inflammation in overweight middle-age and older adults.Inflammation Reduced In Overweight Older Adults By Omega-3

Brain Behav Immun. 2012 May 26. [Epub ahead of print]

New research on omega-3 fatty acid function at the cellular level is likely to help explain how the fish oil fatty acids can help reduce inflammation in the right dosage, yet be potentially pro-inflammatory when consumed in excess.
Why Omega-3 Oils Help at the Cellular Level
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 May 14. [Epub ahead of print]



Lycopene – A new study indicates that lycopene, the colorful antioxidant in tomato products, can improve markers of antioxidant status and inflammation related to heart health. Cooked tomato sauces provide more readily absorbed lycopene than fresh tomatoes.
What Do Quitting Smoking, Exercising More, and Eating More Pizza and Pasta Have in Common?
J Nutr Biochem. 2013 Jan;24(1):163-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2012.03.015. Epub 2012 Jul 21.

Zinc – A deficiency in zinc is related to immune system problems and inflammation. This deficiency could play a role in inflammatory chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. The richest sources of zinc include meats and some seafood; moderate sources of zinc include nuts. The bioavailability of zinc in legumes, whole-grain products and plant proteins is lower due to the relatively high content of phytic acid.

Zinc deficiency linked to immune system response, particularly in older adults
Mol Nutr Food Res. 2015 Feb 5. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201400761. [Epub ahead of print]


Vitamin D – Since its discovery, vitamin D has been known to benefit bone health. Research during the past decade has identified many other vitamin D health benefits including enhanced immune function and reduced inflammation.
How Vitamin D Inhibits Inflammation
J Immunol. 2012 Mar 1;188(5):2127-35. Epub 2012 Feb 1.
Researchers have found that an adequate vitamin D status lowers your risk of type 2 diabetes and subclinical inflammation.
Vitamin D Could Lower Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes, Study Suggests
Diabetes Care. 2011 Oct;34(10):2320-2. Epub 2011 Aug 26.


Fruits and veggies -The Mediterranean diet has become a “catch phrase” for a diet based on a wide variety of wholesome foods that includes a balance of just about everything. The key foods include grains, beans, dairy foods, fish, poultry, a bit of red meat, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. One of the benefits of eating this way appears to be reduced inflammation in the body.
Study further illuminates heart-healthy benefits of Mediterranean diet
Blood. 2014 Mar 31. [Epub ahead of print]
The body has many complex systems that protect it against oxidative damage and inflammation. Fruits and vegetables are naturally rich sources of vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene and should be consumed daily.
Plant food diet can protect lungs
Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2005 Apr;9(4):362-74.


Curcumin - a key component of turmeric, has been recommended as a “natural” medicine to treat inflammatory conditions. Using a cell culture model of human tendon inflammation, a new study has found biochemical mechanisms that support the potential efficacy of curcumin in treating arthritis and a range of rheumatic diseases.
Curry Spice Could Offer Treatment Hope for Tendinitis
J Biol Chem. 2011 Aug 12;286(32):28556-66. Epub 2011 Jun 13.


Fiber – For some time, the consumption of foods that provide dietary fiber has been thought to benefit lower intestinal health. This was thought to be due to the bacterial production of a fat component called butyrate that increases when fiber is consumed. New research confirms that butyrate does help to reduce intestinal inflammation and likely reduce cancer risk. The B-vitamin niacin benefits the colon in a similar fashion.
Findings bolster fiber’s role in colon health
Immunity. 2014 Jan 16;40(1):128-39.

de Lourdes Nahhas Rodacki C, Rodacki AL, Coelho I, Pequito D, Krause M, Bonatto S, Naliwaiko K, Fernandes LC., Influence of fish oil supplementation and strength training on some functional aspects of immune cells in healthy elderly women. Br J Nutr. 2015 Jul 14;114(1):43-52