foods to reduce inflamation (1)

Holistic Solutions to Inflammation: The Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Inflammation is a common contributing factor in increased risk and occurrence of chronic pain, illness and disease…so let’s talk about eating to reduce inflammation. 

As a nutrition coach, I often run into women who are looking for more holistic nutrition information… 

People who are looking avoid medications, supplements and surgeries by using natural solutions.

While I will say that not everything is manageable with natural or holistic solutions, it can be a great preventative measure and also a supplementary resource to any current medications.

As a wonder of nature, there are an abundance of nutrients in your food that can help you naturally prevent and/ or reduce inflammation…

There is magic in your food. 

All you need to do to access this magic is to learn a bit about what ingredients to eat and cook with!

And you’ll be happy to realize that a lot of these ingredients are easily and inexpensively accessible to you!

But let’s go over the basics of understanding inflammation before we get into the meat of this…

To help get you up to speed on knowing what inflammation is and how to deal with it, I will be going over the following in this article:

  1. How and where does inflammation happen?
  2. What foods cause inflammation?
  3. What foods reduce inflammation?
  4. What about anti-inflammatory supplements?

At the bottom of this article I am going to be recapping any relevant blogs that I may have linked throughout-look for more information there.

Now, let’s dive into some inflammation basics…

Explaining Inflammation

Where can you get inflammation?

Inflammation can occur in various parts of the body-especially in women. 

One common area where women can experience inflammation is in the joints, such as the knees, hips, and wrists. 

This can cause joint pain and stiffness, and can be a symptom of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout.

Another area where women can experience inflammation is in the digestive system, such as the stomach and intestines. 

This can be a symptom of conditions such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, and can cause abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea.

Inflammation can also occur in the reproductive system in women, such as the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. 

This can be a symptom of conditions such as endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease, and can cause pelvic pain, irregular periods, and difficulty getting pregnant.

How does inflammation occur?

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or infection. 

When the body detects a threat, it triggers the immune system to release white blood cells and chemicals to protect the affected area and help it heal. 

This can cause swelling, redness, and warmth in the affected area.

In women, inflammation can happen in response to a variety of factors, such as injuries, infections, and certain medical conditions. 

For example, if a woman twists her ankle, the immune system will respond by releasing white blood cells and chemicals to the affected area to protect it and promote healing. 

Inflammation can also occur in response to infections, such as bacterial or viral infections. 

When the body detects an infection, it will trigger the immune system to release white blood cells and chemicals to fight the infection and protect the body. 

This can cause swelling, redness, and warmth in the affected area. 

In women, this can happen in the urinary tract, reproductive system, or digestive system, depending on where the infection is located.

Finally, eating unhealthy food can cause inflammation in the body. 

Inflammatory foods can trigger the immune system to release white blood cells and chemicals, leading to inflammation. 

This can affect various parts of the body, such as the digestive system, joints, and blood vessels. 

Inflammation caused by unhealthy food can contribute to a range of health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. 

Foods That Cause Inflammation

Why do certain foods cause inflammation?

Certain foods can cause inflammation in the body because they trigger the immune system by: 

  • Causing the body’s blood sugar levels to spike
  • Not being biocompatible with the body (they are toxic) 
  • Stressing out the digestive system

Other foods may cause inflammation simply because the person has a unique allergy or intolerance to the food.

Popular foods that cause inflammation

There are several types of foods that can cause inflammation in the body. 

These primarily include processed and packaged foods, foods high in sugar and trans fats.

Processed and packaged foods are one of the main culprits when it comes to causing inflammation. 

These foods often contain artificial preservatives, flavorings, and colorings which are toxic to the body.

Foods that are high in sugar can also cause inflammation. 

Consuming too much sugar can cause the body’s blood sugar levels to spike, leading to inflammation. 

Trans fats are also known to cause inflammation. 

These fats are not completely biocompatible with the body and are often perceived by the body to be toxic.

Here are some examples of these types of foods:

  • Corn syrups and products sweetened with corn syrups
  • Processed meats, sausages, nuggets, etc.
  • Most chips, crackers and prepackaged snacks
  • Foods that are heavily dyed/ colored with artificial colors
  • Foods that stay preserved for an unusual amount of time due to preservatives added-examples include fast food, soft drinks and packaged snack foods

There are actually tons of these foods and spotting them is not difficult – chances are if you can’t pronounce one of the ingredients on the nutrition label, it’s a processed ingredient that may cause inflammation.

Common food intolerances/ allergies

An allergy or food intolerance is another thing that can cause you to have an inflammatory response to food.

This is going to be specific to each person based on their genetics and what they are exposed to.

To determine if you have an intolerance or allergy to any food or product, you need to seek out testing with your doctor. 

Here are some of the most common food allergies/ intolerances:

  • Peanut and/or all nut allergy
  • Gluten intolerance or Celiac Disease
  • Dairy intolerance or Lactose Intolerance
  • Shellfish allergy
  • Low ability to digest all animal products

Because of the fact that livestock and dairy animals are often treated with antibiotics, hormones and fillers, it is quite common that people with have a bit of an intolerance to animal product-if not because of an inability to digest the animal product itself, then because of an intolerance to all the trace additives in the animal product.

Eating to Reduce Inflammation

How can certain foods, herbs and spices help with inflammation?

There are many natural ingredients that contain compounds that reduce inflammation in various ways…

One of the ways these ingredients can reduce inflammation is by assisting with and accelerating the detoxification processes of the body so as to more quickly remove inflammatory agents.

Another way they reduce inflammation is by directly affecting the body’s signaling for the inflammatory response so as to reduce or regulate it.

Finally, these anti-inflammatory foods can also promote the body’s healing process by providing the nutrients necessary to accelerate healing of anything that may be causing inflammation.

Fresh fruits and vegetables known to reduce inflammation

Fruits and vegetables are a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and are especially high in anti-inflammatory compounds and can be particularly beneficial for reducing inflammation.

One fruit that is known to have anti-inflammatory properties is berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. 

Berries are high in antioxidants, including anthocyanins, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. 

Berries have been shown to reduce inflammation in various parts of the body, including the gut and brain. 

In addition to berries, grapes and red wine have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. 

This is likely due to the high concentration of polyphenols, including resveratrol, in grapes and red wine.

Another group of fruits and vegetables that are known to have anti-inflammatory effects are those that are high in Vitamin C. 

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to reduce inflammation in various parts of the body, including the skin and joints. 

Fruits and vegetables that are high in Vitamin C include citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons, as well as bell peppers, strawberries, and kiwi fruit. 

Vegetables such as spinach, kale, and broccoli are also high in Vitamin C and other anti-inflammatory compounds.

Herbs and spices known to reduce inflammation

Herbs and spices have been used for centuries for their medicinal properties because they contain anti-inflammatory compounds that have been shown to have a positive impact on inflammation in the body.

One of the most well-known herbs for reducing inflammation is turmeric. 

Turmeric contains curcumin, a compound with potent anti-inflammatory effects. Curcumin has been shown to reduce inflammation in various parts of the body, including the joints and gut. 

In addition to turmeric, ginger is another herb that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. 

Ginger contains compounds called gingerols and shogaols, which have been shown to reduce inflammation and pain.

Another group of herbs and spices that are known to have anti-inflammatory effects are those that are high in antioxidants. 

Antioxidants help to neutralize harmful molecules in the body that can cause inflammation. 

Herbs and spices such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sage are high in antioxidants and have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. 

In addition, cinnamon has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects and can help to regulate blood sugar levels.

Fats to reduce inflammation

Certain types of fats have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects and can help to improve overall health. 

Incorporating these fats into your diet can help to reduce the risk of chronic inflammation and various chronic conditions.

One of the most important fats for reducing inflammation is omega-3 fatty acids. 

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation in various parts of the body, including the heart and blood vessels. 

Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and can help to provide your body with the anti-inflammatory benefits it needs. 

In addition to fatty fish, other sources of omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseeds and chia seeds.

Another type of fat that can help to reduce inflammation is monounsaturated fats, such as those found in avocados, olive oil, and nuts. 

Monounsaturated fats have been shown to have total-body anti-inflammatory effects and can help to improve overall health. 

In addition, polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in soybean oil and sunflower oil, have also been shown to have total-body anti-inflammatory effects.

Anti-Inflammatory Supplements

Anti-Inflammatory supplements are supplements that are often used temporarily to address inflammation that is expected to stay for a length of time due to healing an injury, etc.

They are typically not things that you plan on implementing into your daily routine, but use almost in the same way you would apply medications-only using as long as necessary.

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory (NSAIDs)

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are a class of drugs that are commonly used to reduce pain and inflammation. 

They work by blocking the production of prostaglandins, which are substances in the body that cause inflammation and pain. 

NSAIDs are available over-the-counter and by prescription and are used to treat a wide range of conditions, including arthritis, menstrual cramps, and headache.

One of the most common types of NSAIDs is ibuprofen, which is available over-the-counter under brand names such as Advil and Motrin. 

Another type of NSAID is naproxen, which is available both over-the-counter and by prescription under the brand name Aleve. 

Both Ibuprofen and Naproxen are effective in reducing pain and inflammation and are often used for conditions such as arthritis and menstrual cramps.

While NSAIDs are effective in reducing pain and inflammation, they also have potential side effects. 

The most common side effects of NSAIDs are stomach irritation, nausea, and heartburn. 

In addition, long-term use of NSAIDs can increase the risk of developing stomach ulcers, kidney problems, and high blood pressure. 

It is important to speak with a healthcare provider before taking NSAIDs to determine if they are appropriate for you and to discuss any potential risks and side effects

Holistic supplements

Holistic anti-inflammatory supplements are natural products that are used to reduce inflammation in the body-often packaged into pills and powder blends for easy consumption. 

These supplements are derived from plants, herbs, and other natural sources and are believed to be a safe and effective alternative to prescription drugs for reducing inflammation.

This can include things such as turmeric, rosemary, fatty acids and nearly everything that has been previously mentioned in the foods, herbs and spices sections above.

Holistic supplements tend to be safe for daily/ long term use but I still recommend aiming for eating/ drinking your nutritional anti-inflammatories and only adding supplements (even if holistic) when necessary.

What’s the takeaway? 

Inflammation is a -sometimes chronic- problem that people can be dealing with as a result of environmental toxins, injury or sensitivity.

While there are medications that assist with inflammation, a more long term solution would be to implement more anti-inflammatory ingredients into your diet as a preventative measure.

There are so many fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and even fats that will help reduce your inflammation naturally.

For more balanced eating and nutrition tips, check out my ebook, The Basics: Standard Nutrition Information Clients Learn in the First 3-6 Months

Here’s some additional information on my blog:

Don’t wait for it to become a problem: get ahead of your inflammation today!

It’s not difficult and it does not need to be expensive.

This article was written by Elexis Smolak CPT, CNC, WFS founder of Adapted Fitness and Integrative Health and Fitness Specialist for Women. Learn more or schedule a virtual coffee at