8 Ways to Reduce Inflammation Naturally

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Elizabeth Beasley on May 7, 2020
  • Dinner is served
    Living a Healthier Life by Stopping Chronic Inflammation
    Inflammation is your body’s natural way of healing and protecting itself from infection. This system works well until it causes chronic inflammation that can damage your tissues, organs, and immune system and may lead to chronic illness. Common symptoms of chronic inflammation include fatigue, insomnia, body pain, mood disorders, stomach issues, and weight gain. Adopting a natural anti-inflammatory lifestyle and making minor tweaks to your diet and daily routine can have a big impact on reducing inflammation and helping you feel better all over.
  • Fresh organic vegetables on a table
    1. Eat more plants.
    A diet that includes more plants than grains or meat is ideal for reducing inflammation. Colorful fruits and non-starchy vegetables are filled with anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, antioxidants, and fiber. This can help reduce your risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses. At every meal, try to load up two-thirds of your plate with plant-based, anti-inflammatory foods. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, apples, and blueberries rank high for natural antioxidants and polyphenols.
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    2. Cut back on red meat.
    If meat’s your preferred protein, limit your consumption of red meat like beef, lamb, buffalo, deer, and pork. Eating red meat can contribute to chronic inflammation, so aim for less than 18 ounces a week. As an alternative, choose healthier meats, such as turkey, chicken and fish. If you want to try an all-plant diet to reduce inflammation, you can replace animal proteins with black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, or lentils. Eggs and cheese are also good protein choices to round out your plate. Hormone-free and pasture-raised are the healthiest options.
  • woman holding sliced avocado
    3. Go for the good fats.
    As you design a healthy diet of anti-inflammatory foods, don’t ditch the fats. Good fats with omega-3 fatty acids are the ones to look for. Limit omega-6 fatty acids, because they increase inflammation. Foods that naturally reduce inflammation and are high in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna, walnuts, pecans, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and avocado. When adding fats to foods, choose olive or canola oil. Corn, peanut, soybean, and sunflower oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids. Also, read the ingredients on packaged food to check the types of oils they include.
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    4. Limit processed foods.
    A good rule of thumb for selecting anti-inflammatory foods is to pick fresh, whole foods. These have the maximum nutrients for your body. Avoid processed foods because they have fewer nutrients than whole foods, unhealthy fats, and artificial ingredients that put your immune system on alert and lead to chronic inflammation. Skip foods that come in a box or bag and shop for natural foods. Limit consumption of processed meats like deli meat, sausage, bacon, pepperoni, and hot dogs. Avoid soda and sports drinks, because they also contain chemicals that increase inflammation.
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    5. Boost flavor with healthy spices and herbs.
    Now it’s time to add some extra flavor to the fruits, vegetables, healthy meats, and good fats you’re eating. Spices and herbs don’t just make meals taste better. They’re full of minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients. Which herbs and spices are the most anti-inflammatory? Basil, dill, oregano, rosemary, thyme, black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, garlic, turmeric, and anise are essentials for your pantry. Add these generously to soups, salads, dips, or sprinkle directly onto meats, beans and vegetables as you’re cooking.
  • Sauerkraut with carrot, onion and spices in glass bowl and fork on dark background
    6. Add fermented foods to your diet.
    A little bit of fermented food goes a long way when reducing inflammation. These probiotic foods are great for your gut health and help keep your internal organs inflammation-free. Try adding one small serving of fermented foods to your diet every day for best results. Often these can be included in meals you’re already making. For example, add low-fat, plain organic yogurt to dishes instead of sour cream. Top sandwiches with sauerkraut and kimchi. Sip a kombucha tea or miso soup with your healthy meals. You may notice that your belly feels less bloated after a few weeks.
  • Man-in-his-forties-enjoying-a-glass-of-water-and-the-newspaper
    7. Drink more water.
    Consuming 1 to 3 liters of water a day always tops the list of recommendations for a healthy lifestyle and for a good reason: It flushes lingering toxins out of your body and helps reduce inflammation. A steady stream of water keeps things flowing well in your body. Don’t worry too much about buying enhanced waters, because you’ll be getting plenty of nutrients, electrolytes, and antioxidants from eating whole foods. Also, there’s no need to obsess about exactly how much water you’re drinking. Simply set a goal to drink more water than other types of drinks.
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    8. Exercise 5 days a week.
    Changing your diet and water intake will make a big difference in how your body feels and in reducing your risk of developing diseases caused by chronic inflammation. The other lifestyle change that lowers inflammation significantly is exercise. Doctors recommend exercising 30 minutes a day, five days a week. You can choose any exercise you like; what’s important is just moving your body. A mix of aerobic and strength training is a great goal. You can do both in one session or alternate days.
8 Ways to Reduce Inflammation Naturally | Anti-Inflammatory Foods

About The Author

Elizabeth has been writing for Healthgrades since 2014 and specializes in articles about alternative and complementary therapies like meditation, yoga, energy work and aromatherapy. She also performs improv comedy and is a firm believer that laughter really is the best medicine.
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 May 5
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.