Foods for Thought: What to Eat and Avoid When it Comes to Inflammation

Dr. Dimitrios Lambrou Aug 04, 2014

If you suffer from arthritis, you know all about inflammation. Inflammation is a process by which the body’s white blood cells and chemicals protect us from infection with foreign substances, such as bacteria and viruses. However, in some diseases, like arthritis, the body’s defense system, the immune system, triggers an inflammatory response when there are no foreign substances to fight off. In these diseases, called autoimmune diseases, the body’s normally protective immune system causes damage to its own tissues. The body responds as if normal tissues are infected or somehow abnormal.

The most common conditions associated with inflammation are rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, gout, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and muscular low back and neck pain. Symptom of inflammation include:

  • Redness
  • Swollen joints that are warm to the touch
  • Joint pain
  • Joint stiffness
  • Loss of joint function
  • Flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, fatigue/loss of energy, headaches, loss of appetite, and muscle stiffness

Did you know that the foods you eat affect inflammation? If you're wondering about the nutrisystem vs medifast diet and which is better for arthritis, here is a list of foods and ingredients that can trigger more inflammation in your body to compare to the recipes that come in for you:

  • Sugar. Pastries, desserts, chocolate, and soda may be hard to resist but the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition warns that processed sugars trigger the release of inflammatory messengers called cytokines. Sugar goes by many names so look for any word ending in “ose” on the ingredient labels.
  • Saturated fats. Many studies have shown that saturated fats trigger adipose, or fat tissue inflammation, which is not only an indicator for heart disease but it, also worsens arthritis inflammation. Foods such as pizza and cheese are the biggest source of saturated fats. Other foods include meat products, dairy products, pasta dishes, and grain-based desserts.
  • Trans fat can be found in fast foods, fried products, processed snack foods, frozen breakfast products, cookies, donuts, crackers, and some stick margarines. Look for “partially hydrogenated oils” in the ingredient label and avoid those foods.
  • Refined carbohydrates. These can be found in white flour products such as breads, rolls, white rice, white potatoes, French fries, and some cereals.
  • MSG. Mono-sodium glutamate is a flavor enhancing food additive found in prepared Asian food and soy sauce. It can also be found in fast foods, prepared soups and soup mixes, salad dressings, and deli meats.

Now that you are scrambling to think of what there is left to eat, here are a few foods and ingredients that can help fight inflammation:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Red wine
  • Tea
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Oily fish
  • Cocoa
  • Cranberries
  • Grapes
  • Walnuts
  • Broccoli
  • Whole grains
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Low fat dairy
  • Peppers
  • Beets
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Onions

If you would like to learn more about what other treatment options are available to treat symptoms caused by inflammation, contact us at Northeast Spine and Sports Medicine for an appointment. We offer treatment options such as:

  • Microvas
  • PRP Injection Therapy
  • Non-surgical Orthopedic
  • Joint injections
  • Chiropractic
  • Physical Therapy
  • Sports Medicine
  • And more!