So many of us struggle with minor physical ailments or even chronic diseases and spend thousands of dollars every year on supplements and medications to try to feel better. Unfortunately, there is usually no easy “cure-all” pill to solve health issues. The good news is that many of our ailments are caused by a state of chronic inflammation in the body that is caused by a poor diet, and diet is something that we can change.
The problem is that the Standard American Diet (SAD) that many of us regularly consume contains unhealthy amounts of sugar, refined carbohydrates, saturated fat, and sodium. Think processed meat, refined grains, snack foods, sodas, fried food. This diet results in higher acidity in the body, which results in inflammation. Chronic inflammation and an acidic body create a fertile ground for disease to take hold. That is scary! On the flip side, it has been shown that an alkaline body state can help keep disease away and even reverse disease.
While it may take some effort and changing habits, by moving toward a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet, you can transition your body into an alkaline state rather than an acidic one and begin your journey to vibrant health.
In this article, we cover the health benefits of moving to an anti-inflammatory diet, tips on which foods to eat and foods to avoid, and popular diet plans that will help you get started with this important lifestyle change.
What is Chronic Inflammation?
Inflammation is defined as an immune system response to an injury, bacteria, toxin, or virus. It’s your body’s way of responding to protect itself, so in a sense, inflammation can be a good thing. Chronic inflammation is very different however. It results in your body being in a constant high state of alert. This can damage your body’s cells, tissue and organs, and eventually lead to the development of disease.
Health Risks Associated with Chronic Inflammation
Symptoms of chronic inflammation may start mild but become more serious over time if not resolved. Mild symptoms may include chronic fatigue, joint and muscle pain, weight gain or weight loss, depression, frequent infections, constipation or diarrhea, skin issues, and more.
If your body remains in an acidic, inflamed state for a long period of time, you could be at increased risk for more serious diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, bowel diseases, and Alzheimer’s.
To reduce your risk of risk of these ailments, read on for the benefits of switching to an anti-inflammation diet and how to get started.
10 Benefits of Reducing Inflammation with an Alkaline Diet
Reducing inflammation in your body and moving from an acidic to an alkaline state is one of the most important things you can do to improve your health. Let’s take a closer look at how changing your diet will change your life in a positive way.
1. Protection Against Diseases
An alkaline diet produces an alkaline state within the body while reducing toxins. This is the type of environment that makes it difficult for viruses and diseases to thrive and it may even improve your bone health.
2. Aiding in the Healing Process
Alkaline foods protect your body’s cells and help to heal damaged cells. If you currently have a chronic disease, switching to an anti-inflammatory diet may stop it from worsening, help you manage your symptoms, and possibly even heal your body completely. You may even begin to notice anti-inflammatory effects right away.
3. Increased Energy Levels
If you have grown accustomed to feeling tired all the time, you’ll be pleased to know that following an anti-inflammatory diet plan may increase your energy levels. Your gut does so much more than just digesting your food. It houses your microbiome, which plays a key role in how much energy you have.
It takes about a month to heal your gut once you leave acidic foods behind. As it heals, you may find that it’s easier to get out of bed in the morning, and you have more stamina for the day ahead.
4. Better Sleep at Night
Likewise, your microbiome has a direct impact on how well you sleep at night. Tossing and turning, struggling to fall asleep, and finding it hard to stay asleep are all indicative of chronic inflammation and an unhealthy microbiome.
As your gut heals and as your microbiome gets healthier, you may find that you get appropriately tired when it’s time to go to bed. And there’s nothing quite like realizing that you finally slept all the way through the night for the first time.
5. Weight Loss or Maintaining a Healthy Weight
When you think about inflammation, you probably immediately think of swelling, which is one aspect of it. With chronic inflammation, your entire body may feel bloated and swollen, which contributes to weight gain.
Eating anti-inflammatory foods may reduce that bloated feeling that has you feeling uncomfortable in your own skin. This is a lifestyle change that can help you lose weight, stay at a healthy weight, and even help you lose inches all over your body.
6. Reduced Joint and Muscle Pain
Even some of the top physicians in the world recommend alkaline diets to their patients who suffer from chronic inflammation and the health conditions they cause. It may surprise you to learn that muscle stiffness and joint pain could be coming from the acidic foods you eat instead of from injuries or simply as a result of getting older.
Anti-inflammatory foods have been shown to ease the symptoms of fibromyalgia and reduce chronic pain, even in people who have suffered from these and other issues for years.
7. Boosting Your Immune System
Like many people, you may know exactly when to expect your next upper respiratory infection, cold, or bout with the flu. The fall and winter seasons are notorious for sicknesses, but people who stick to anti-inflammatory foods may experience fewer run-ins with viruses.
Your gut also plays an important role in your immune system. In fact, research shows that between 70-80% of your body’s immune cells reside in your gut. A happy microbiome means thriving good bacteria, which results in less susceptibility to colds, flu, and other short-term illnesses.
8. A More Youthful Appearance
Many of the foods on the anti-inflammatory foods list above are packed full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. As your body gets healthy on the inside, those wonderful changes you experienced are going to begin showing up on the outside too.
Many people who adopt alkaline diets find that problems that once plagued them – such as chronic acne – become things of the past. You may notice that your skin becomes more vibrant and radiant once you switch to a healthier eating plan.
9. Improved Mental Health
Serotonin is a chemical that plays a critical role in your overall mental health, as well as other vital body functions. Its function is to carry messages between nerve cells within the brain and elsewhere throughout your body.
Most people falsely believe that serotonin is made in the brain. However, we now know that 95% of our serotonin is manufactured by the bacteria that reside in the gut. Reducing inflammation has a direct effect on your microbiome, which means improved mental health through healthy serotonin levels.
10. Lower Stress Levels
Can you think of a time when you truly felt relaxed? Life can be stressful, and eating a diet full of acidic foods may only be contributing to the chaos you feel. Inflammatory food increases the amount of cortisol your body produces, and cortisol is the primary hormone that is responsible for stress.
Short bursts of cortisol are good because the hormone serves as your body’s protective mechanism. It also helps manage your blood pressure and controls how your body uses protein, fat, and carbs. But too much cortisol only creates more stress in your body, and in the long term, it does the exact opposite of what it is designed to do in those short-term bursts.
Foods That Cause Inflammation
The list of foods that promote inflammation probably has some of your favorites on it. But the good news is that once you get rid of certain foods you’ll be so thankful that you feel better, you’ll be ready to say goodbye to processed foods for good in favor of healthy dietary choices.
Some of the foods that cause inflammation are:
- Refined carbs (white rice, white bread, pastries)
- Red meat and processed meats (bologna, hot dogs, lunch meats)
- Unhealthy snacks (chips, cookies)
- Sodas and sugary beverages
- Packaged foods
- Fried foods
- Margarine, shortening, lard
List of Anti-Inflammatory Foods
The key components of an anti-inflammatory diet are loads of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Even though you may miss some of your favorite foods once you make the switch to an alkaline diet, you’ll love what you get to replace those foods with.
Here is a list of foods that fight inflammation. They are both good for you and delicious too.
- Leafy greens (kale, spinach, collard greens)
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage)
- Berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries)
- Fruits (stone fruits, citrus, apples, pomegranates, watermelon, pineapple, grapes)
- Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines)
- Whole grains (brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, oats, buckwheat, flax)
- Healthy fats, such as avocados
- Beans (black beans, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas)
- Nuts (walnuts, almonds)
- Bell peppers
- Green tea, black tea
- Onions, garlic
- Healthy oils (extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, flaxseed oil)
- Spices (ginger, garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom)
- Cocoa and dark chocolate
The food on this list has proven to reduce inflammatory markers. Starting with some simple substitutions could be an easy way to start reducing the inflammation in your system. For instance, you could swap in brown rice instead of white rice, and enjoy some steel cut oatmeal for breakfast instead of sugary boxed cereal. Next try cooking some fatty fish instead of beef for dinner. Keep adding in more fresh foods and whole foods a bit at a time, and soon you’ll be on your way to creating and maintaining a healthier diet, which means a reduced risk for inflammation and disease.
What are the Best Anti-Inflammatory Diet Plans?
While you can create your own diet plan based on the food recommendations we made above, you can also follow one of the many popular diet plans out there that promote lots of fresh frutis and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. These will provide lots of recipes and help with menu planning.
- The Mediterranean Diet
- The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)
- The Okinawan Diet
- The Nordic Diet
- The Mexican Diet
- Keto diet (or another low carb diet)
- The ultimate arthritis diet
There is even evidence that intermittent fasting may help when inflammation persists.
Be sure to listen to your body. As you begin eating more alkaline foods and less acidic foods, your body will respond positively to reduce inflammation. Likewise, if you get your inflammation under control and then decide to binge on an assortment of fried foods, your body will let you know that was a bad decision.
How To Get Started with an Anti-Inflammatory Diet & Lifestyle
Getting started with an anti-inflammatory diet can be done as soon as today. In fact, the sooner you start, the better. Putting it off will only give you time to change your mind or give in to temptation, so if you can, why not head to the grocery store right now?
Arm yourself with a list of alkaline foods from the list above. You may even want to look up some Mediterranean Diet recipes so you can purchase those ingredients.
In general, you want to have a solid plan in place. That will help you experience both short- and long-term success as you begin a new, healthy lifestyle focused on reducing inflammation in your body.
Here are some additional tips to help you get started:
- Focus on drinking more water. We know it might be challenging to forgo the alcohol on your next night out, and there are plenty of other yummy drinks (like your favorite espresso) that probably aren’t doing much to improve your overall health. Your body needs water to flush out the toxins it’s targeting.
- Incorporate exercise when and if you can. One of the best parts of reducing inflammation is experiencing less pain and joint stiffness while increasing your energy levels. Channel that new energy into a reasonable exercise routine. If you’re just starting out, swimming and other low-impact exercises are very safe and will help you increase your strength and stamina. Of course, if you have concerns, be sure to check with your doctor first.
- Recruit a friend or partner to join you. We all can use more accountability in just about every area of our lives, and healthy lifestyle changes are no different. Having a “buddy” will give you more motivation to stay on track, and they’ll be thankful to you for helping them address their inflammation issues too.
- Eat healthier snack foods. Try to find healthy swaps like fruits and vegetables.
5 Anti-Inflammatory Cookbooks to Inspire You
There are wonderful anti-inflammation and alkaline diet recipe books full of delicious recipes that will help you kick off a healthier diet. One easy, fun way is to start with green smoothies. Here are some great books you can easily order from Amazon:
- The Complete Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Beginners – A No-Stress Meal Plan with Easy Recipes to Heal the Immune System
- Dr. Sebi’s Alkaline and Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Beginners – How to Naturally Reduce Inflammation and Boost Immunity for Life-Long Health
- The Reboot with Joe Juice Diet Cookbook – Juice, Smoothie, and Plant-based Recipes Inspired by the Hit Documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead
- 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse – Made up of super-nutrients from leafy greens and fruits, green smoothies are filling and healthy and you will enjoy drinking them.
- The Healthy Smoothie Bible – Lose Weight, Detoxify, Fight Disease, and Live Long
If you don’t already have a blender or you need an upgrade, check out our review of Best Blenders for Smoothies.
Note: Republic of Green researches and reviews green products that we hope you will love! As an Amazon Associate, Republic of Green may earn a small commission on qualifying purchases if you click through to purchase something on Amazon. There is no additional cost to you and it helps us to keep bringing you good content. Thank you for supporting Republic of Green!
Have you tried an anti-inflammatory diet and experienced positive results? We’d love to learn about it! Please share any tips or experiences in the comments below that may help others on this journey.
Republic of Green
Republic of Green loves to provide educational articles and product reviews that promote a healthy, clean, green diet and lifestyle! Check out the News Section for more articles on Natural Health, Green Home, and Clean Beauty & Personal Care Products. You can also find environmentally-friendly businesses in the Republic of Green Business Directory.
- 20 Easy Swaps for a Plastic-Free, Zero-Waste Kitchen - January 2, 2023
- Top 10 Benefits of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet & Tips to Get Started - January 2, 2022