While inflammation gets a bad reputation, it is a normal part of the healing process. It’s your body’s response to injury, irritation, or infection. In small doses, inflammation can actually protect you. Unfortunately, many people experience chronic inflammation that persists for months on end. In these cases, it can lead to serious illnesses, including heart disease and chronic pain. Add the best anti-inflammatory foods to your diet to lower your risk of severe inflammation to protect your health. Start with these suggestions.

What are the basics of an anti-inflammatory diet?

The anti-inflammatory diet was first popularized by Dr. Andrew Weil. In his writing, he explains that it really isn’t a diet: it’s a way of life. By choosing foods based on scientific knowledge of how they can benefit your health, he notes, you can improve how your body functions.

An anti-inflammatory diet is not a weight-loss program, nor is it a temporary eating plan. If you stick to anti-inflammatory foods, you can permanently maintain ample vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, dietary fiber, and protective phytonutrients in your diet.

In general, you can adapt many of your favorite recipes to incorporate the basics of an anti-inflammatory diet. General tips include:

  • Aim for a variety of fresh, whole, and unprocessed foods
  • Include as much fresh food as possible
  • Minimize your consumption of processed foods, sugar, and fast food
  • Eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables
  • Try to include carbohydrates, fat, and protein in each meal
  • Decrease your consumption of animal protein, except for fish and high-quality cheese and yogurt
  • Eat more vegetable protein, especially from beans
  • Include soy foods in your diet
  • Drink pure water (or drinks that are mostly water) throughout the day
  • Drink tea instead of coffee

As always, this diet should be a part of your overall healthy lifestyle. It’s important to get adequate sleep and engage in regular physical activity as well in order to truly reap the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet.

What are anti-inflammatory diet benefits?

Scientists continue to study how food affects the body’s inflammatory processes. While there is still a lot to unravel, their findings begin to confirm a few things about an anti-inflammatory diet.

Research shows that what you eat can affect the levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in your blood. CRP is a marker for inflammation. Foods like processed sugars release inflammatory messengers that can raise your risk of chronic inflammation. On the other hand, fruits and veggies help your body fight against oxidative stress, which can trigger inflammation.

Beyond the possibility of keeping inflammation at bay, there are many additional benefits to following this type of diet. All of the foods discussed here can help lower your risk of obesity, heart disease, and a range of other conditions.

The best anti-inflammatory vegetables

Vegetables are a critical part of any healthy diet. Low in calories and high in vitamins, they can prevent inflammation and help you maintain a healthy weight.

When possible, add the following vegetables into your diet.