Fighting Chronic Inflammation with Food

Chronic inflammation is one of the leading causes of major diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. While medications can provide temporary relief, the best way to fight chronic inflammation is through diet and lifestyle changes. In this article, we’ll explore the top 7 anti-inflammatory foods you should add to your diet.

What is Chronic Inflammation?

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or infection. It sends immune cells to the site of damage to help repair tissues. Acute inflammation is a normal part of healing and goes away once the threat is gone.

Chronic inflammation is different. It’s a low-grade form of inflammation that lingers in the body month after month. This can happen due to poor diet, stress, toxins, lack of sleep, and other factors. Over time, chronic inflammation damages tissues and leads to serious illnesses.

Fortunately, adjusting your diet is one of the most powerful ways to reduce chronic inflammation and the diseases it causes. Let’s look at 7 of the top anti-inflammatory foods to eat every day.


Turmeric contains curcumin, a compound that has been used in Chinese and Indian medicine for thousands of years. Studies show curcumin acts on every step in the inflammatory pathway. It helps modulate inflammation rather than blocking it completely. This is important because some inflammation is needed for healing.

To get benefits, aim for at least 3 grams of turmeric per day. Turmeric powder can be added to foods and drinks. Curcumin supplements are another option, but check the dosage on the label. Small amounts like 300 mg won’t have much effect.


Like turmeric, ginger has a long history of use as an anti-inflammatory. It contains compounds called gingerols that inhibit inflammatory cytokines. Don’t combine ginger and turmeric, as doing so may block turmeric’s benefits. Instead, consume them separately. Add ginger to marinades, salad dressings, and other recipes for anti-inflammatory effects.


Rosemary contains the antioxidant rosmarinic acid. This has immune-modulating and inflammation-reducing properties. Rosemary extracts or essential oils can be consumed, but talk to your doctor first. Too much may impact gut bacteria. For most people, simply using more rosemary in cooking is the safest way to leverage its benefits. Add it to meat dishes, soups, and sauces.

Cayenne Pepper

The compound capsaicin gives cayenne pepper its spicy heat. It has potent anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. Capsaicin creams are often used to temporarily relieve joint and muscle soreness. Adding cayenne pepper powder to drinks or dishes will provide internal anti-inflammatory benefits.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3s help balance inflammation in the body. Most people consume too many omega-6 fatty acids from vegetable oils, tilting the scales towards inflammation. To correct this imbalance, eat more omega-3 rich foods like salmon, mackerel, tuna, chia seeds, walnuts, and flaxseeds. Taking a fish oil supplement is another option. Aim for at least 1 gram of omega-3s daily.

Green Tea

Green tea contains EGCG and other antioxidants that reduce inflammation. Matcha green tea is very high in EGCG but has more caffeine than regular green tea. Drink green tea throughout the day for anti-inflammatory effects. Avoid adding milk, as it may reduce the bioavailability of catechins.

Dark Chocolate

Flavanols and other compounds in cacao have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. To get the most benefits from chocolate, choose varieties with at least 70% cacao and low sugar content. Milk chocolate and highly processed chocolate have fewer benefits, so dark chocolate is best.

The Bottom Line

Chronic inflammation drives many of today’s major health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and autoimmunity. Medications only temporarily suppress inflammation, but food can help fight it at the root.

Add more turmeric, ginger, rosemary, cayenne, omega-3s, green tea, and dark chocolate to your diet to combat chronic inflammation naturally. Along with a healthy lifestyle, an anti-inflammatory diet can reduce your risk of developing chronic illnesses down the line.

Focus on getting plenty of protective foods in each meal and snack. With time, you’ll start to feel the effects of lowered inflammation, including less joint pain, better energy levels, and improved mood.

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