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10 Best Diets to Fight Inflammation, Reduce Pain and Swelling

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Inflammation is a common medical condition that hundreds of thousands of people around the world suffer from. While antibiotics may treat inflammation depending on the cause of the disease, most cases of chronic inflammation don't have a permanent cure. Many may assume that the only way to deal with chronic inflammation is to take medication for the rest of their life. However, the reality is that something as simple as a change of diet can help alleviate painful symptoms and even prevent chronic inflammation. Thanks to Top Nutrition Coaching, you can create a personalized diet plan with qualified experts in nutrition so you can get back to living your best anti-inflammatory life.

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Why Do I Need An Anti-Inflammatory Diet?

The body uses inflammation as a natural means of self-healing; therefore, it's not necessarily a bad thing. When you damage yourself or become ill, such as when you receive a cut, break a bone, or catch a cold, you experience acute or short-term inflammation. However, chronic inflammation, which can be brought on by consuming harmful foods that cause an inflammatory reaction in the blood, can result in a wide range of health issues.

According to Harvard's Nutrition Source, western-style diets high in processed meats, saturated fat, refined sugars, salt, and white flour but deficient in fiber, minerals, and phytochemicals are mainly linked to chronic inflammation. These diets also frequently have high glycemic loads and calorie densities, resulting in insulin resistance, blood sugar spikes, and excess weight gain. Therefore, switching to an anti-inflammatory diet can not only improve your health but protect you from serious ailments down the road.

Top 10 Anti-Inflammatory Diets

While working directly with a licensed nutritionist or dietitian can help you create a personalized diet plan based on your condition, here is a list of the top ten diets you can switch to fight chronic inflammation.

1. Traditional Mediterranean Diet

Although the cuisines of Italy, Greece, the southern region of France, Lebanon, and other nations bordering the Mediterranean Sea are all different, they frequently use the same ingredients. Numerous inflammatory disorders, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, malignancies, allergies, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease, may be prevented by following a Mediterranean diet.

A traditional Mediterranean diet has the following traits:

  • The majority of the diet comprises a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, minimally processed grains, and legumes.
  • The primary sources of fat include olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
  • The primary source of animal protein is fatty fish. Only a modest amount of red meat is consumed once or twice weekly.
  • The main dairy products are little cheese and yogurt, with hardly any butter or cream.
  • Only with meals and in small to moderate amounts is wine permitted.
  • Celebrations only call for sweets typically made with honey, olive oil, and almonds.


  • Promotes a healthy eating pattern
  • Prevents cardiovascular diseases and inflammatory disorders, increase lifespan, and promotes healthy aging
  • It may also support healthy weight loss in conjunction with calorie restriction


  • Some foods are expensive
  • Additional guidance may be necessary for certain conditions
  • Some dietary restrictions may be challenging
  • May fall short of some nutrients
  • Can be time-consuming

Bottom Line: A traditional Mediterranean diet is an excellent option for those with a lot of spare time preparing meals aware of the nutrients they need. This may not be the best choice for someone starting a new diet for the first time on their own.

2. Traditional Okinawan Diet

The Japanese island of Okinawa is well known for having a high percentage of healthy 100-year-olds. Much of the credit goes to the regional diet.

A traditional Okinawan diet is:

  • Low calorie
  • Rich in vegetables, including seaweed
  • Rich in legumes, particularly soy
  • Moderate in fish
  • Low in meat and dairy
  • Moderate in alcohol


  • It contains lots of soy
  • Rich in seaweed
  • Okinawan sweet potato is the main starch
  • It's low-fat
  • Promotes longer lifespan with its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds


  • Low in calories and fat
  • High in fiber
  • Includes complex carbohydrates

Bottom Line: While the traditional Okinawa diet may promote a longer lifespan, it may not be for everyone. Its restrictive nature limits or avoids otherwise healthy food groups and could be challenging to adhere to long-term.

3. Traditional Nordic Diet

The cuisines of Denmark, Sweden, and Finland differ, but traditionally, they share healthy core foods, including:

  • Whole rye products (bread, muesli)
  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Fish
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Sauerkraut
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Canola oil is the principle oil

These meals' abundance of nutrients makes them beneficial for reducing inflammation. A special mention should be made of the grain rye, which has been proven to help lower blood sugar, the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein, and PSA, a marker for male prostate cancer.


  • Can improve specific inflammatory markers 
  • Can trim off pounds
  • Can prevent Type 2 Diabetes and chronic inflammation


  • It may not always be practical
  • Potentially expensive
  • Time-consuming

Bottom Line: The Nordic diet is the most standard healthy diet. It can help prevent and alleviate symptoms of many severe conditions, including chronic inflammation. However, checking with a licensed nutritionist is essential to ensure you're getting the most out of this diet.

4. Traditional Mexican Diet

Another popular, anti-inflammatory eating pattern hails from Mexico. The mainstays of a traditional Mexican diet include:

  • Corn tortillas
  • Beans
  • A wealth of fruits and vegetables (including hot peppers)
  • Rice (brown and white)
  • Cheese


  • Reduces inflammation, especially when legumes replace red meat
  • Reduces bad cholesterol
  • Blunts the rise in blood sugar after a meal, which over time helps prevent type 2 diabetes and inflammation
  • Quells appetite, which helps with weight loss


  • Food can become bland
  • It can easily become unhealthy if food isn't prepared or portioned correctly

Bottom Line: The traditional Mexican diet can be an excellent option for those who understand the food well and have access to the finest ingredients. However, it can end up causing more harm than good if not properly monitored.

5. Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)

The DASH diet was developed in the 1990s to help Americans with high blood pressure (hypertension). It also does other things. The anti-inflammation strategy is what DASH uses. It is abundant in fruits and vegetables, most grains are whole, the primary protein sources are fish, poultry, and legumes, and pro-inflammatory foods like red meat, sweets, and sugary drinks are in moderation.

The DASH diet's ability to reduce LDL cholesterol is an additional benefit. The bad blood cholesterol, LDL, is increased by excessive saturated fat. However, DASH restricts foods high in this fat because they are also known to cause inflammation. These meals include high-fat dairy products (butter, cream, cheese, whole milk), coconut, palm, and palm kernel oils. Instead, the menu offers fat-free or low-fat dairy products and vegetable oils, including canola, corn, olive, and safflower oil.


  • Can provide anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Accessible
  • Flexible
  • Nutritional balance
  • Designed for lifelong wellness
  • Backed by significant health organizations


  • Hard to maintain
  • No convenience foods
  • No organized support
  • Requires substantial food tracking
  • Not designed for weight loss
  • It may not be appropriate for everyone

Bottom Line: The DASH diet is used and recommended by many health organizations across the country. While it produces evidence-based health benefits, it requires a lot of food tracking and maintenance, which can be challenging for many people to accomplish on their own.

6. Low FODMAP Diet

IBS sufferers are frequently advised to follow a low FODMAP diet, which also helps to reduce chronic inflammation. Short-chain carbohydrates (sugars), also known as FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols), are poorly absorbed by the small intestine. A low-FODMAP diet can benefit those who feel digestive distress after consuming them, but it is not without drawbacks.

Since some foods are triggers for some people but not others (and even "trigger" foods may not always be off-limits), it is advised that you utilize the list of foods to discover your triggers rather than trying to adhere to a low-FODMAP diet to a T over the long run.


  • Highly researched and founded by professionals
  • Alleviates IBS and inflammation symptoms
  • It helps identify dietary triggers


  • Restrictive
  • Not a long-term solution
  • Difficult to modify
  • Not recommended for pregnant women and children

Bottom Line: A low FODMAP diet is meant to be a short-term solution to managing symptoms of IBS and chronic inflammation. It is very restrictive and difficult to modify, but it can help determine which foods are personal triggers.

7. Vegetarian Diet

Many people switch to a vegetarian diet to improve their health or lower their chance of contracting diseases. Undoubtedly, a plant-based diet has many proven advantages. You can lessen inflammation and the strain on your heart and circulatory system by eating more vegetables and reducing your meat and dairy intake simply a few days a week.


  • Reduced disease risk
  • It may boost immune system
  • Increased food variety
  • Offers complete nutrition
  • Friendly environmental impact


  • Reduced satiety
  • Less convenient
  • Exposure to chemicals

Bottom Line: Sticking to a plant-based diet can provide many health benefits, including preventing and helping with chronic inflammation. However, it can be costly and inconvenient, and challenging to transition into.

8. Pescetarian Diet

A vegetarian diet that includes fish or other aquatic animals is called a pescatarian diet. People who adhere to this diet are sometimes referred to as pesco-vegetarians or pescetarians.

There are no precise rules that distinguish between what is pescatarian and what is vegetarian aside from the incorporation of seafood. To qualify as a pescatarian, you are not required to consume fish regularly. You might, for instance, be a vegetarian who only occasionally consumes fish, or you might make it a part of every meal.

Make balanced choices because not all pescatarian-compliant options are necessarily healthy. Versions of this eating strategy focusing on nutrient-rich meals can be a healthy way to eat and manage chronic inflammation.


  • May protect from disease
  • It may be easier to follow than Vegetarianism
  • Can benefit the environment
  • It may promote healthy weight


  • Some seafood is high in mercury
  • Groceries can be costly

Bottom Line: Pescetarianism may be more accessible and tastier for many people. It's still great for the environment and can promote healthy weight and inflammation management and prevention.

9. Low-Calorie, Low-Fat Diet

Regardless of the source, sticking to a low-calorie, low-fat diet will help you eliminate some of the fat deposits in your body and reduce the symptoms of chronic inflammation. To reduce fat accumulation, try to concentrate on eating a lot of leafy greens, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats. Eat lean, not fatty, cuts of meat and seafood. Finally, stay away from alcohol but not necessarily caffeine.


  • No food is off limits
  • Promotes nutritious foods
  • It may improve heart health
  • Aligns with some dietary guidelines on fat


  • Reduces intake of nutrients
  • Hard to sustain
  • May increase intake of less healthy foods
  • This may result in macronutrient imbalances

Bottom Line: Low-calorie, low-fat diets have effectively promoted weight loss when calories are restricted. However, these diets can create vitamin and mineral deficiencies if not adequately monitored or planned out.

10. Intermittent Fasting

Since ancient times, intermittent fasting has been utilized to cure various chronic diseases, including chronic inflammation. There are many various types of intermittent fasting, from regimens that only allow food on specific days of the week to protocols that only allow it during particular hours of the day.


  • Easy to follow
  • No calorie counting
  • No macronutrient limitations
  • Unrestricted eating allowed
  • Promotes weight loss
  • It may help with glucose control


  • Side effects on fasting days
  • It may reduce physical activity
  • It may cause severe hunger
  • Concerns for those on medications
  • It does not encourage nutritious eating
  • May promote overeating
  • It may not be advisable for long-term

Bottom Line: Intermittent Fasting can be an excellent short-term solution for those looking to lose weight or manage chronic inflammation symptoms. However, it can lead to many major health problems if not handled carefully.

How Top Nutrition Coaching Can Help

Deciding which anti-inflammatory diet to start can be a stressful and overwhelming decision to make on your own. Each case of inflammation is different for everyone; therefore, every treatment plan will differ from person to person. There are a lot of benefits to working with a qualified nutritionist or dietitian at Top Nutrition Coaching. They can help curate a personalized treatment plan to ensure you get the best results out of your diet.

Your search for a nutritionist will be facilitated by several features provided by Top Nutrition Coaching. After completing your health evaluation, you can speak with a matched specialist to find the nutritionist who is the best fit for you. It's a quick and easy approach to connecting with a person who can assist you in realizing your health-related aspirations. Take your health evaluation at Top Nutrition Coaching to help a matched professional better understand your way of life and objectives.


Whether you currently suffer from chronic inflammation or you're looking to prevent it along with many other serious health concerns, switching to an anti-inflammatory diet is best for you. With so many options out there, along with numerous variations of chronic inflammation, a registered dietitian from Top Nutrition Coaching can help create the most effective diet to fight against chronic inflammation.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Still unsure about anti-inflammatory diets? Below are a few frequently asked questions that may help you form a decision.

What is the best diet for inflammation?

To reduce levels of inflammation, aim for an overall healthy diet that avoids foods high in inflammation. To find the best diet for you, it's best to consult with a professional to ensure you're getting the proper nutrients while maintaining a healthy lifestyle for fighting inflammation.

What is the fastest way to reduce inflammation in the body?

The fastest, most effective way to reduce inflammation is to load up on anti-inflammatory foods, eliminate inflammatory foods, control blood sugar, exercise, lose weight, manage stress, and maintain a healthy sleep schedule. Taking care of yourself and staying healthy is vital.

What are the strongest natural anti-inflammatory supplements?

Suppose you don't want to take antibiotics daily to manage chronic inflammation. In that case, there are lots of natural foods filled with Omega 3 fatty acids you can eat to help alleviate symptoms and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Some include ginger, garlic, turmeric, black pepper, green tea, cinnamon, and abundant fruits and vegetables.

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About the author

Nicolette Star Maggiolo, RD, LDN
I'm a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist with education from Boston University and clinical training from both Brigham & Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. I specialize in helping the military and non-military individuals embrace nutrition as a partner in both their mental and physical health.

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