How Your Food Can Help or Hurt: Anti-Inflammatory and Inflammatory Foods

by John Griffith

You are what you eat. This age-old adage is probably one of the most accurate proverbs to have ever been conceived by the human mind. Every single meal you consume sets a number of chemical and biological reactions in motion, not all of which are desirable, to say the least. Watching what you eat isn’t only a trendy slogan invented to increase sales of box diets (spoiler alert – they’re not nearly as healthy as they’re marketed to be). It should become an essential, inseparable part of your lifestyle if you care about staying fit and healthy for decades to come.

Stuffing your face with hot dogs on a daily basis isn’t only going to lead to putting on some more weight. Poor dietary habits may lead to a wide plethora of serious, even life-threatening conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and increased risk of cancer. In fact, weight gain should be the least of your worries if you continue to eat processed and refined foods.

According to the experts from Primal Harvest, one of the most fundamental things people need to understand about the effects various types of food have on their bodies is inflammation. It’s the most immediate and obvious reaction of your organism to any threat, food-related or not.

Other nutrition specialists share this view, which is why we’ve prepared this guide to inflammatory and anti-inflammatory foods. It will help you make more informed dietary decisions and lead a fitter, happier, more productive lifestyle.

Choose the food you put into your body carefully

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What Is Inflammation and Why Should You Even Care About It?

Inflammation is actually a perfectly natural process. It is triggered by your body and carried out by white blood cells, whenever it needs to be protected from outside threats, such as bacteria and viruses. It’s a vital and inseparable part of the functioning of your immune system, as it helps keep you safe from a wide variety of health hazards.

Why, then, should you consider switching to an anti-inflammatory diet? Chronic inflammation is associated with weight gain and various diseases due to the high oxidation of cells and increased production of free radicals. In layman’s terms, inflammation should not be a commonplace occurrence, and it should only happen when an actual threat enters your body.

Eating healthy foods and getting enough physical activity can help reduce the number of inflammatory markers floating around your system. On the other hand, frequent consumption of heavily processed foods and fats may promote inflammation, leading to some serious, long-term consequences.

One of the best ways to lower inflammation is following an anti-inflammatory diet. Keep reading to find out which foods may help reduce inflammation, and which ones are particularly inflammatory.

Eating the right food will give you more energy and better mood

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Inflammatory Foods: Limit Your Consumption of These 4 Products

Before getting on an anti-inflammatory diet, you should know which products are particularly inflammatory, so that you know what to avoid. In general, you should try to limit your intake of processed foods. This includes popular meat products, such as bacon and ham, but also most candy and desserts. You can find a list of the five most inflammatory foodstuffs below.

High-Fructose Corn Syrup (and Sugar)

Although sugar seems to get all of the bad rep for causing high blood pressure and a wide plethora of other chronic conditions, some of the media attention needs to be focused on high-fructose corn syrup, as well. Although both can cause inflammation, corn syrup is the culprit that nobody talks about. It’s used in nearly every soft drink available on the market, not to mention various types of candy. Even ketchup contains it!

Vegetable Oil

Too much of a good thing can make it harmful really quickly. This is the case with vegetable oils, which contain loads of omega-6 fats. While they are required in a human diet to a certain extent, most of us consume them in quantities that are too high and can therefore trigger inflammation processes.

It is important to learn how to eat healthy from a young age

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Artificial Trans Fats

Consumption of artificial trans fats on a daily basis can lead to increased levels of the C reactive protein (CRP) in your body, which is a prominent inflammatory marker. These unhealthy fats are used in most packaged snacks like chips and crackers, but also in most fried foods found at fast-food chains. Probably the most widely used artificial trans fat-containing product in American households is margarine. If you’re serious about reducing inflammation, you might want to replace it with butter.

Refined Carbohydrates

Nearly every fitness guru and health coach nowadays will talk your ears off about how carbs are some of the worst things you can put into your body. They are partially correct. The truth is that humans have consumed naturally-occurring carbs for millennia, and actually benefited from it. The problem lies in refined carbs. During processing, they’ve been rid of nearly all their fiber, which promotes blood sugar control, keeps you full for longer, and protects your gut. Regular consumption of refined carbs in the form of white bread, chips, pasta, and pastries may lead to prolonged low-grade inflammation, leading to a wide plethora of potentially dangerous health conditions.

Carbs aren’t necessarily bad when they are the right ones

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Anti-Inflammatory Foods: Eat More of Those!

There are plenty of foods that can help you fight inflammation and therefore reduce your risk of developing a serious cardiovascular disease or rheumatoid arthritis. The first and most important rule of any effective anti-inflammatory diet is eating natural, unprocessed foods. That means including a lot of fruits and vegetables containing antioxidant compounds, whole grains, and healthy, beneficial fats, such as olive oil.

Check out this list of products you should eat as part of your anti-inflammatory diet.

Salmon, Tuna, and Turkey

This “holy trinity” of meats should be your most-often consumed source of protein. Salmon is particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are some of the most powerful antioxidants out there (remember: oxidation is one of the primary reasons behind inflammation). Tuna and turkey, on the other hand, are rich in selenium, which is a mineral that inhibits oxidation, as well.

Leading a healthy lifestyle will change your life

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Whole Grains

Eating whole wheat bread and pasta doesn’t only prevent the negative side-effects of consuming refined carbs. They’re actually associated with some anti-inflammatory effects themselves. Just like turkey and tuna, whole grain products are full of selenium, a powerful antioxidant.

Leafy Greens

Nearly all green vegetables contain antioxidant particles, leafy ones in particular. This doesn’t apply only to lettuce or broccoli — drinking green tea is another great way to introduce some antioxidants to your system.


Out of all the fruits, vegetables, and other products in this article, berries probably contain the highest concentrations of antioxidants out there. Eating just a few per day can help you reduce inflammation.

Green veggies are a must have part of your diet

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The Bottom Line

Chronic inflammation is one of the most common causes of accelerated aging, heart disease, and other chronic conditions that may impact, or even shorten, your life. Adopting an anti-inflammatory diet may help you restore your full vitality and become a healthier, happier individual. If you’re still uncertain about implementing all of these foods and compounds mentioned above, we recommend checking out the Mediterranean diet. It’s one of the tastier ways to combat inflammation and does not require too much sacrifice on your end.

Hopefully, this article has cleared up most of the doubts you may have had regarding starting to follow an anti-inflammatory diet and will be the start of your journey towards better health. Remember, however, to seek medical advice before radically changing your dietary habits, as some foods may have inadvertent effects on different individuals.

John Griffith

John Griffith is a young, passionate journalist. Writing has been John’s hobby ever since he was a boy. He has worked in some of the UK’s most successful news portals over the course of his professional career but found his forever home at Archzine.