8 Steps to an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

By: Miraval’s Nancy Teeter, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Veg Out. Eating an abundance of vegetables from all parts of the color spectrum will provide you with a variety of health-promoting plant nutrients. Deeply pigmented veggies (red, blue, purple, dark green, yellow and orange) are phytochemical powerhouses, but asparagus, garlic, leeks, onions, cauliflower and mushrooms are also nutrient rich. Vegetables from the cruciferous family — broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale and cauliflower — are especially rich in inflammation-fighting compounds. Choose organic whenever possible to reduce exposure to pesticide residues.

Fill in with Fruit.  For most people, we recommend about two cups of fruits from varied color groups each day.  Dark purple fruit like blueberries have exceptional antioxidant activity.  Oranges are a super source of potassium; while watermelon is full of the antioxidant lycopene.  However, pears, green apples, and green grapes are all filled with healthy phytonutrients. 

Favor healthful fats.  Replace calories from inflammation-promoting saturated fat with mono and poly-unsaturated fats.  Use extra-virgin olive oil as your main oil. Expeller-pressed organic canola oil is a healthy option for neutral-tasting oil. Include moderate amounts of avocados, nuts and seeds in your meals or snacks.

Move beyond meat. Fish, with its healthful omega-3 fats, and plant-based proteins like legumes and less-processed forms of soy (tofu, tempeh, edamame, and soy milk) can help reduce inflammation. Meat, poultry, milk and dairy products can be pro-inflammatory. Opt for organic animal protein whenever you can.

Fill up on fiber. When you base your meals on healthy carbohydrate choices like vegetables, legumes (beans and lentils) and whole grains your belly gets filled with nutrient-rich foods and you get full faster.  If you enjoy pasta, eat it in moderation and cook it al dente (firm to the bite).

Season Liberally. Spices are more than just flavoring agents — they are also packed with phytochemicals. Ginger and turmeric are particularly noted for their anti-inflammatory properties.  All the green herbs are rich in phytonutrients.  Minimize the use of salt. 

Time out with Tea.  All types of tea — green, oolong and black — contain inflammation-fighting phytochemicals, but green is the top choice.  Herbal teas may not be particularly anti-inflammatory, but may have other benefits such as promoting calm.

Practice moderation. Eating more calories than your body needs can promote inflammation. Excess alcohol promotes inflammation, so if you drink, do so in moderation.  Red wine contains plant nutrients that may help dampen inflammation, but only in moderation.  To satisfy a sweet tooth, fresh fruit, dry fruit or small amounts of plain dark chocolate are nutrient-rich options.

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