Anti-Inflammatory Diet 101: 5-Day Meal Plan - KC Wellness Center (2023)

An anti-inflammatory diet isn’t another fad — it’s a lifestyle change that involves making smarter and healthier food choices. According to a study mentioned in Very Well Health, an anti-inflammatory diet led to a 37% decrease in inflammatory substances, such as C-reactive protein, in people with Type 2 diabetes after just one year. Other studies have also shown similar benefits for people with heart disease. You can also affect emotional health by implementing a more natural, less processed diet to improve mood and quality of life.

Inflammation is an immune response to illness or injury. Its meant to be protective by drawing more immune cells to the inflamed location to speed up the healing process. However, long-term inflammation can be detrimental to your overall health. It can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries, increasing the chance of stroke and heart disease. According to Healthline, it has been linked to weight gain, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, autoimmune diseases and other health conditions. Chronic inflammation also often occurs with diseases such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.

One of the most powerful tools to combat inflammation is our diet. An anti-inflammatory diet is more of an eating style than a strict menu. By choosing the best combination of anti-inflammatory food, you may be able to reduce your risk of illness. It focuses on consuming more fruits and vegetables, foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains, lean protein, healthy fats and spices while limiting processed foods, red meats and alcohol.

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet and a five-day meal plan to get your started.

Who Can Benefit From an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?

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An anti-inflammatory diet may serve as a treatment for many conditions that worsen with chronic inflammation. Medical News Today mentions it may be additionally beneficial for those living with:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Psoriasis.
  • Asthma.
  • Crohn’s disease.
  • Colitis.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Lupus.
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis.
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
  • Metabolic syndrome; is a collection of conditions that tend to co-occur, including Type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Foods That Cause Inflammation

Foods that we generally consider unhealthy also tend to be the culprits of long-term inflammation. Excess weight gain can also be a risk factor for inflammation. However, some food components may have more significant effects than increased caloric intake itself. Harvard Health recommends limiting these foods as much as possible as they tend to trigger a rapid inflammatory response and can be taxing on the liver:

  • Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries.
  • Highly processed foods, including frozen meals, chips, crackers, cookies, and ice cream.
  • Added sugars, spanning from dried fruits to pasta sauce.
  • Fried foods.
  • Soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Red meat, such as burgers and steaks, and processed meat, such as hot dogs and sausage.
  • Margarine, shortening and lard.
  • Refined seed oils, like soybean and corn oil, that are high in omega-6 fats.
  • Excess alcohol.
  • High-fat dairy products, such as cheese and butter.

Healthy Foods to Incorporate Into Your Diet

An anti-inflammatory diet should include foods rich in nutrients, antioxidants and healthy fats, similar to the Mediterranean diet. According to the Mayo Clinic, antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against free radicals — molecules produced when your body breaks down food — that play a role in heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. Vitamin C is another essential component of immune health. It can help regulate your body’s inflammatory response, so try eating various fruits and vegetables as an easy way to introduce these compounds into your regular diet.

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Plant-based foods are the best sources of foods high in antioxidants, including:

  • Apples.
  • Artichokes.
  • Avocados.
  • Beans (red, pinto and black).
  • Berries (blueberries, raspberries and blackberries).
  • Broccoli.
  • Cherries.
  • Dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa).
  • Dark green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach and collard greens).
  • Nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans and hazelnuts).
  • Sweet potatoes.
  • Whole grains.

Omega-3 fatty acids are the healthy fats that can help fight heart disease, cancer, arthritis and other conditions. Try incorporating these foods to increase your intake:

  • Flaxseed.
  • Oily fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines and anchovies).
  • Eggs.
  • Milk.
  • Walnuts.

Easy Cooking Tips for Incorporating an Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle

  • Add spices and seasonings, including turmeric, ginger, rosemary, cinnamon, oregano, cumin and cayenne pepper. They are packed with antioxidants and add enjoyable flavor to your meals.
  • Cook with garlic and onion: These items are also rich in antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory compounds. They are easy to incorporate into marinades, dressings, stews, stir-fries, etc.
  • Avoid frying your food: Instead of deep-frying, opt for baked, boiled or braised cooking methods.
  • Swap your butter for olive oil: High-quality olive oil contains more antioxidants and good fats than butter, which is much higher in saturated fats.
  • Keep it simple: If cooking or meal-prepping seems overwhelming, try to keep it simple. Choose a protein source and combine it with a vegetable and a grain. Also, check out our four-step beginner’s guide to meal prepping, including some easy recipes.

Five-Day Meal Plan

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Below is an example of a five-day meal plan with 20 different meal and snack ideas. These can be mixed and matched based on your preferences, swapped out or you could even bring dinner leftovers for your lunch the following day for more convenience. This meal plan should provide some inspiration for maintaining an anti-inflammatory diet.

Day 1

  • Breakfast: Greek yogurt with fresh berries and chopped walnuts
  • Lunch: sweet potato, kale and chicken salad with homemade dressing
  • Dinner: garlic-roasts salmon with potatoes and asparagus
  • Snack: almonds and a pear

Day 2

  • Breakfast: matcha chia smoothie
  • Lunch: white bean and veggie salad
  • Dinner: one sheet-pan chicken, broccoli and cauliflower rice
  • Snack: one cup of berries

Day 3

  • Breakfast: overnight chia seed bowl
  • Lunch: chopped veggie grain bowl
  • Dinner: Mediterranean lentil soup
  • Snack: guacamole with whole-grain crackers

Day 4

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  • Breakfast: oatmeal with fresh berries
  • Lunch: vegetarian chili
  • Dinner: greek roasted fish with vegetables
  • Snack: apple with nut butter

Day 5

  • Breakfast: scrambled eggs with turmeric
  • Lunch: greek loaded sweet potatoes
  • Dinner: stir-fry with vegetables and brown rice
  • Snack: homemade energy balls

Overall, an anti-inflammatory diet should include a balance of fruits, vegetables, protein sources and healthy fats. You can incorporate coffee or tea, fermented foods, such as sauerkraut or kombucha, and minimally processed whole grains. Limit saturated fat as it can short-circuit immune cells and trigger inflammation. By keeping saturated fat to 10% of your daily calories, you will help reduce the risk for heart disease. Also, eliminate trans fat. Studies suggest that those who eat foods higher in trans fat tend to see more elevated biomarkers indicating inflammation. Steer clear of products containing the words ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated oils.’ Examples include some margarine, crackers and cookies. Check out these full, healthy recipes for more meal ideas geared towards the upcoming summer season.

See Even More Benefits with These Additional Tips

Once you have established your new anti-inflammatory diet, you can add in a few other things to reap further benefits:

  • Supplements: You can take additional supplements to reduce inflammation, such as fish oil and curcumin, which are beneficial to white blood cells.
  • Regular exercise: Physical activity will also help decrease inflammatory markers and lower the risk of chronic disease.
  • Adequate sleep: Getting enough sleep is essential to fight off inflammation. During sleep, blood pressure drops and blood vessels relax. When sleep is restricted, blood pressure doesn’t decline as it should, triggering blood vessel inflammation. There are also many other reasons why sleep is important for weight loss and overall health.
  • Fiber: It is recommended to consume at least 25 grams of fiber every day. It offers a lower energy density helping to alleviate inflammation.
  • Manage stress: Inflammation is a common pathway of stress-related diseases. When you experience stress, your body goes into the ‘fight-or-flight’ mode and releases the stress hormone cortisol. Untreated chronic stress can lead to severe hypertension, heart disease, obesity and metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis, depression, addiction or anxiety disorders. Read our stress management guide to learn more about how stress affects the body and how you can better manage it.

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Try Medical Weight Loss on Your Anti-Inflammatory Journey

In overweight or obese individuals, weight loss is shown to improve inflammation and plays a vital role in preventing chronic diseases. At KC Wellness, we can teach you how to maintain a healthy weight effectively. We help you stay on course by following a realistic and consistent eating pattern in conjunction with getting regular physical activity. We focus on lifestyle changes that encourage safe and sustainable results. We are proud to say that about 90% of our patients have achieved their weight loss goal and successfully kept the weight off.

If you desire to regain control of your life through sustainable weight loss, then medical weight loss may be what you need. Our doctors and staff are always available to answer any questions and provide guidance along the way to help you succeed. You can also check out our comprehensive guide to medical weight loss. Reach out to our team today to see how we can help you in your weight loss and health journey. Call us at 816-214-5276 at contact us here.


Will anti-inflammatory diet help you lose weight? ›

Also, an anti-inflammatory diet was not developed with weight loss in mind, but it is likely that eating a diet high in many low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods, like fruits, vegetables and beans, and low in processed foods and added sugars, will lead to weight loss.

What is the easiest anti-inflammatory diet? ›

To fight inflammation, go for whole, unprocessed foods with no added sugar: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (beans, lentils), fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, a little bit of low-fat dairy, and olive oil. "To these, many people add herbs and spices like cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric.

How long does it take to see results of anti-inflammatory diet? ›

How long does anti-inflammatory diet take to work? It's important to remember that chronic inflammation doesn't happen overnight, so neither will reducing it. While you may start to feel relief in just 2 weeks, full healing can take between 3 and 6 months or longer, especially if you suffer from an anto-immune disease.

What is not allowed on anti-inflammatory diet? ›

An anti-inflammatory diet favors fruits and vegetables, foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains, lean protein, healthful fats, and spices. It discourages or limits the consumption of processed foods, red meats, and alcohol.

How do I know if my anti-inflammatory diet is working? ›

The biggest hint that your anti-inflammatory diet is working is if you start feeling better, so keep an eye on your symptoms and look for positive changes to your health. “There are a lot of different ways your body can react to an anti-inflammatory diet,” Zumpano says.

Is Oatmeal OK for anti-inflammatory diet? ›

Whole grains:Oatmeal, brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and other unrefined grains tend to be high in fiber, and fiber also may help with inflammation. Beans:They're high in fiber, plus they're loaded with antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory substances.

Is Oatmeal inflammatory? ›

Background: Oat and its compounds have been found to have anti-inflammatory effects.

What are the 10 most inflammatory foods? ›

What foods cause inflammation?
  • Red meat and processed meats, including bacon, hot dogs, lunch meats and cured meats.
  • Refined grains, including white bread, white rice, pasta and breakfast cereals.
  • Snack foods, including chips, cookies, crackers and pastries.
  • Sodas and other sweetened drinks.
  • Fried foods.
29 Jun 2022

Does coffee cause inflammation? ›

Research suggests that coffee does not cause inflammation in most people—even if your norm is more than one or two caffeinated cups. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Coffee may have anti-inflammatory effects in the body.

Do eggs cause inflammation? ›

Consuming eggs regularly can lead to an increased amount of swelling and joint pain. The yolks contain arachidonic acid, which helps trigger inflammation in the body. Eggs also contain saturated fat which can also induce joint pain.

Are bananas anti-inflammatory? ›

Bananas are versatile fruits with anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties that can help counteract inflammation and support the body's immune system. People may benefit from an anti-inflammatory diet and avoiding pro-inflammatory foods.

What is the number 1 vegetable to avoid? ›

Worst Veggie: Starchy Vegetables

Corn, peas, potatoes, pumpkin, squash, and yams are starchy vegetables. However, not all starch vegetables offer the same nutritional benefits. For instance, yams and pumpkins are excellent sources of fiber and beta-carotene. While potatoes are high in potassium.

Are eggs OK for inflamation? ›

Are eggs an anti-inflammatory food? Yes. Eggs are a source of vitamin D, which has anti-inflammatory effects. 10 They're also a good source of protein and B vitamins.

What are the worst vegetables for inflammation? ›

Nightshade Vegetables

Eggplants, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes are all members of the nightshade family. These vegetables contain the chemical solanine, which some people claim aggravates arthritis pain and inflammation.

Can drinking lots of water reduce inflammation? ›

Inflammation. Health experts recommend that a diet rich in anti-oxidants as well as staying hydrated with enough water are great ways to reduce inflammation in the body. Water is specifically recommended because it can flush toxins and other irritants out of the body.

Does lemon water reduce inflammation? ›

Lemon water has several health benefits thanks to its high vitamin C concentration, flavonoid content, and acidity. Both flavonoids and vitamin C are strong antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory effects, therefore they may protect cells from damage and reduce inflammation in the body.

What is a strong natural anti-inflammatory? ›

Garlic, like ginger, pineapple, and fatty fish, is a common food that's rich in anti-inflammatory compounds. Garlic is especially high in a compound called allicin, a potent anti-inflammatory agent that may also help strengthen the immune system to better ward off disease-causing pathogens ( 52 ).

Are potatoes inflammatory? ›

Potato contains anti-inflammatory components such as resistant starch, fiber, and anthocyanins. Given the wide variation in potato germplasm for these compounds, there exists an opportunity to further develop potato as a potent anti-inflammatory staple crop.

Are sweet potatoes anti-inflammatory? ›

The beta-carotene in sweet potatoes has been shown to fight inflammation, and eating them regularly can help ease joint pain and other symptoms of inflammatory conditions like arthritis. If you're looking for a delicious way to reduce inflammation, add some sweet potatoes to a salad or bake alongside protein!

What happens to your body when you start an anti-inflammatory diet? ›

The risk of heart disease, obesity, inflammatory bowel diseases, arthritis, Alzheimer's, psoriasis, and more could be reduced with an anti-inflammatory diet, as the nutrients in these foods contain properties known to ease inflammation.

Is peanut butter good for inflammation? ›

Are peanuts inflammatory? The short answer is no, and in fact, peanuts and some peanut products like peanut butter have been shown to be anti-inflammatory.

Are scrambled eggs anti-inflammatory? ›

Eggs and inflammation

On the contrary, eggs have been shown to contain compounds that may have anti-inflammatory properties.

What kind of milk is anti-inflammatory? ›

Move over almond milk. Flax milk is a great nondairy option if you're looking for an anti-inflammatory boost, says Staci Small, a registered dietitian based in Indiana. The milk is made with flax oil, which is rich in an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

Is cheese inflammatory? ›

I'm often asked if dairy foods cause inflammation. Actually, the opposite is true. Based on the body of science, dairy foods like milk, yogurt and cheese do not cause inflammation and can be a part of anti-inflammatory diets.

Is pasta inflammatory? ›

Refined Carbs

"The consumption of sugars found in refined carbohydrate products like white bread and pasta have been found to increase the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), compounds linked to inflammation," Batayneh says.

What fruit is good for inflammation? ›

Eat these fruits for their anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Berries. From strawberries and blackberries to cranberries and blueberries, these gemlike fruits are particularly potent in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. ...
  • Apples. ...
  • Stone fruits. ...
  • Grapes. ...
  • Citrus. ...
  • Pomegranates. ...
  • Image: Kwangmoozaa/Getty Images.
13 Oct 2021

Are avocados inflammatory? ›

Avocados. The avocado is an anti-inflammatory food that is rich in heart-healthy fats. It's also a good source of magnesium, fiber, and potassium.

Is green tea good for inflammation? ›

Through cellular, animal, and human experiments, green tea and its major component, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) have been demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory effects.

Does chocolate increase inflammation? ›

Dark chocolate and cocoa

It's also packed with antioxidants that help reduce inflammation. These may reduce your risk of disease and lead to healthier aging ( 69 , 70 , 71 , 72 ).

Is dairy inflammatory? ›

One systematic review published in 2019 found that dairy did not have a pro-inflammatory effect in healthy adults or in adults with metabolic syndrome, obesity, and/or type 2 diabetes. Interestingly, there was a weak anti-inflammatory effect observed with certain fermented dairy products, such as kefir.

What breakfast foods cause inflammation? ›

Popular Breakfast Foods That Increase Inflammation, Say...
  • Breakfast pastries.
  • Processed meat.
  • Cereals containing wheat or sugar.
  • Sugary oatmeal.
  • Meal replacement shakes.
28 Sept 2021

Is chicken OK on anti-inflammatory diet? ›

The final word on nutrition and inflammation

Coates says. “Focus on adding a lot of rich color to your plate in the form of different fruits and vegetables, plenty of healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and fatty fish, as well as leaner sources of proteins like beans, quinoa, eggs, and chicken.”

Is yogurt inflammatory? ›

Yogurt is associated with decreased inflammation, decreased insulin resistance and it may prevent type 2 diabetes,” Dr. Hu says. Nutrition researchers believe yogurt's anti-inflammatory power comes from the probiotics it contains, but that has yet to be confirmed with rigorous trials, he says.

Is pineapple good for inflammation? ›

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Pineapple juice contains an enzyme called bromelain, which triggers your body's ability to fight pain and reduce swelling. It's used as a treatment for inflammation and sports injuries and may be effective in reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Is honey good for inflammation? ›

In addition to its use as a natural sweetener, honey is used as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial agent. People commonly use honey orally to treat coughs and topically to treat burns and promote wound healing.

Is rice an inflammatory food? ›

Refined carbohydratesFoods that contain flour, such as breads and crackers, and foods such as white rice and instant mashed potatoes are high-glycemic foods that cause inflammation. These refined carbs are also linked to obesity and a host of chronic conditions.

What are the top 5 anti-inflammatory foods? ›

While you walk that perimeter, be on the lookout for these top five anti-inflammatory foods to add to your diet today:
  1. Fish. Certain fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, anchovies, and other cold-water fish are rich in the omega-3 fatty acids. ...
  2. Berries. ...
  3. Vegetables. ...
  4. Go Nuts. ...
  5. Avocados.
26 Sept 2017

What is a true anti-inflammatory diet? ›

Generally it emphasizes eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, unsaturated fats, minimally refined whole grains, tea, coffee, herbs, spices, and oily fish. The Mediterranean diet and DASH diet are popular dietary plans that already showcase many anti-inflammatory foods.

Are eggs a inflammatory? ›

Consuming eggs regularly can lead to an increased amount of swelling and joint pain. The yolks contain arachidonic acid, which helps trigger inflammation in the body. Eggs also contain saturated fat which can also induce joint pain.

What is the number one natural anti-inflammatory? ›

1. Omega-3 fatty acids. Share on Pinterest Omega-3 fatty acids may help fight vascular inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids , which are abundant in fatty fish such as cod, are among the most potent anti-inflammatory supplements.

Is coffee inflammatory? ›

Research suggests that coffee does not cause inflammation in most people—even if your norm is more than one or two caffeinated cups. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Coffee may have anti-inflammatory effects in the body.

Is peanut butter inflammatory? ›

The short answer is no, and in fact, peanuts and some peanut products like peanut butter have been shown to be anti-inflammatory. Inflammation in the body is a mechanism thought to be at the center of the majority of chronic diseases.

Does cheese cause inflammation in the body? ›

It's clear that a diet high in saturated fats – which are plentiful in cheese and full-fat dairy products – can increase inflammation.

What is the best natural remedy for inflammation in the body? ›

There is some evidence to support the claim that turmeric, green tea, and ginger have anti-inflammatory properties. For people with inflammatory health conditions, consuming these herbal remedies could be useful for reducing inflammation.

What foods make inflammation worse? ›

Avoid these 8 food ingredients that may trigger more inflammation in your body.
  • 8 Food Ingredients That Can Cause Inflammation. ...
  • Sugar. ...
  • Saturated Fats. ...
  • Trans Fats. ...
  • Omega 6 Fatty Acids. ...
  • Refined Carbohydrates. ...
  • MSG. ...
  • Gluten and Casein.

Do potatoes cause inflammation? ›

As a source of fiber, potatoes are high in resistant starch, a compound known to improve gut flora and decrease inflammation (Kingbell 2019).

Do tomatoes cause inflammation? ›

There's another misconception out there about tomatoes and other nightshades: That they cause inflammation. (Spoiler: They don't.)


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