Anti-Inflammatory Foods

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on March 24, 2010

anti inflammatory foods,

I had not been feeling well last year, and was experiencing more aches and pains than usual. Severe Achilles tendonitis had spread to both of my ankles and it made it very painful to walk short distances…let alone get up and cook for hours on end. I also was experiencing tendon pain in both elbows, and had already received a cortisone shot, with little relief. I would come home and lay down for hours with ice packs on my joints and would have to sleep with splints to get some relief. I happened to be watching a program called Mystery Diagnosis, where a young 34 year old male was experiencing much of the same symptoms, and visits to one doctor after another yielded no results. His joint pain became so severe that he could barely get in and out of the car. Once he found the right doctor, a few adjustments in his diet reversed his painful condition. When I heard this, I jumped out of my chair and ended up doing 3 hours worth of research on foods that promote inflammation in the body, and what you need to do to reverse it. I know that my job as the editor of a food blog is to promote decadent foods, but when you aren’t feeling well, it’s not the decadent foods you seek. Pain relief and normalcy is what you wish for daily and if eating healthier foods is the key, I’d much rather to that then resort to medication or surgery.

Most physicians are clueless about these things and usually try to resolve pain through medication, and not necessarily discovering the source of the problem. Many of us, including myself, are discovering that as we age, our body’s capacity to metabolize certain foods has changed with potentially catastrophic results.

Many doctors are now concerned about the impact of inflammation on our overall health. When you go for a general checkup, your doctor will screen your blood to check for high levels of something called C-Reactive Protein. This is a protein that is found in the blood and measures the levels of inflammation. The higher the number, the higher the level of inflammation in the body…there are also distinguishing factors in the protein that can determine whether this inflammation is cardiac related or not.

Inflammation has been long associated with autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, lupus and multiple sclerosis. It is now considered a major player in the development of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. This does not have to be a death sentence however, but we do need to be proactive in responding quickly to prevent long term damage. Most physicians practicing in this area of medicine (rheumatology) will suggest that we toss out all processed foods, caffeine, red meat, sugar, sodas, alcohol, fried foods, artificial sugars, corn and anything made from corn, palm or safflower oils, dairy and peanuts from our diet. Some people may also have sensitivity to citrus fruits and vinegars, but that should be tested on a case by case basis.

The items to stock up on are fruits (especially apples, blueberries, pineapple, apricots, avocados, mangoes, strawberries) vegetables (especially Asian mushrooms like shitakes, rutabagas, winter squash, pumpkin, celery, carrots, turnips, parsnips, beets), lean meats especially chicken or turkey (eaten no more than once per week), fish high in omega 3 fatty acids like salmon, cod, mackerel, sardines (eaten at least 3 times per week), use extra virgin olive oil, increase consumption of ginger, garlic, basil, parsley, rosemary, turmeric, thyme, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, green tea, white tea, oolong or other herbal teas, switch to a rice, almond or soy milk, use whole wheat pasta and brown rice, add some legumes (beans and sprouts), bulgur wheat, sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, use red or white miso soups, eat more cabbage, buy cereals with at least 4-5 grams of fiber, eat more walnuts, flaxseeds and almonds and use honey or brown rice syrup for sweeteners.

I made a few adjustments in my diet, and added some anti inflammatory supplements, and the pain in my elbows completely disappeared within 2 weeks…and my Achilles tendonitis completely disappeared within 6 weeks. With just a few changes in my diet, I also naturally lost 12 pounds!

If you are suffering with similar aches and pains, I encourage you to modify your diet for 30 days and see if that helps… especially if your doctor does not seem to have the answers or solutions to pain management other than handing over a prescription for (potentially) unnecessary medication…

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