We all suffer from inflammation issues to varying degrees.

If you regularly take anti-inflammatory or pain medications, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or Tylenol®, or similar prescription drugs, you are suffering from inflammation.

If you have chronic aches and pains, such as: back pain, neck pain, headaches, arthritis, tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, or general muscle and/or joint soreness, you are suffering from inflammation.

If you suffer from one or more of the following: frequent cold symptoms, frequent flu symptoms, frequent allergies, arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, sinusitis, acne, asthma, digestive conditions, dysmenorrhea, endometriosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, hypertension, depression, the insulin resistance syndrome (pre-diabetes), or diabetes, you are suffering from inflammation.

As you can see, we all suffer from inflammation issues to varying degrees. Each of us needs to focus on reducing our individual inflammation issues and diet is the foundation to reducing inflammation.

The following no-nonsense list will help you to avoid unhealthy, inflammatory foods that are inflaming, and at the same time help you increase anti-inflammatory foods into your daily diet.1-6

Unhealthy, Inflammatory Foods

  • Refined Sugar: sugar-filled beverages like pop/soda, most juices, energy/sport drinks, frappuccino, etc. Desserts like candy, and baked goods, i.e. donuts, cake, pies, cookies, etc. This also includes most energy bars and processed (i.e. packaged) foods.
  • Refined Grains and Grain Flour Products: including white bread, whole wheat bread, pasta, cereal, pretzels, crackers and any other product made with grains or flours from grains. This also includes most processed (i.e. packaged) foods.
  • Partially Hydrogenated Oils (Trans fats): found in margarine, deep fried foods (french fries, etc.) and most packaged foods.
  • Seed and Legume Oils (inaccurately called vegetable oils) corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, and foods made with these oils such as mayonnaise, tartar sauce, margarine, salad dressings, and many packaged foods. These oils/foods contain extremely high levels of inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.
  • Dairy and Soy: when consumed as staples

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

  • All Vegetables and Fruits: eaten raw or lightly cooked.
  • Red and Sweet Potatoes: eaten with protein such as eggs, fish, meat or fowl.
  • Fresh Fish: avoid farm-raised tilapia, catfish, basa, and bronzini they have elevated levels of inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.
  • Meat, Chicken, Eggs from Grass-Fed Animals: Eatwild.com is a website that lists producers of grass-fed animals. Do the best you can to get lean cuts of regular meats otherwise.
  • Wild Game: including deer, elk, etc. Animals that feed on vegetation in the wild.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Omega-3 Eggs
  • Raw Nuts: such as almonds, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts, and macadamia nuts.
  • Spices: such as ginger, turmeric, garlic, dill, oregano, coriander, fennel, red chili pepper, basil, rosemary, etc. If you wish, you can add a little kosher or sea salt.
  • Oils and Fats: moderate amounts of organic butter, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil. Butter from grass-fed cows is also a healthy choice.
  • Salad Dressing Choices: an example is EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, mustard, along with spices.
  • Beverages: water, black coffee, and organic tea (green tea is the best option). If you choose to drink alcohol, red wine, and stout beer are the best choices.

1. Seaman DR. The diet-induced pro-inflammatory state: a cause of chronic pain and other degenerative diseases? J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2002; 25(3):168-79
2. Seaman DR. Nutritional considerations for inflammation and pain. In: Liebenson CL. Editor. Rehabilitation of the spine: a practitioners manual. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2006: p.728-740
3. Cordain L. The Paleodiet. New York: John Wiley & Sons; 2002
4. Cordain L, Eaton SB, Anthony Sebastian A, Mann N, Lindeberg S, Watkins BA, O’Keefe JH, Brand-Miller J. Origins and evolution of the western diet: Health implications for the 21st century. Am J Clin Nutr 2005;81:341-54.
5. Simopoulos AP. Essential fatty acids in health and chronic disease. Am J Clin Nutr 1999; 70(3 Suppl):560S-569S
6. Simopoulos AP. Omega-3 fatty acids in inflammation and autoimmune diseases. J Am Coll Nutr 2002; 21(6):495-505