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Foods That Fight Inflammation

  blog post author icon   blog post published date icon   01/29/23

Disease  Nutrition  

Inflammation occurs when your body activates your immune system by sending out inflammatory cells to attack bacteria or viruses, or to heal damaged tissue. Sometimes, your body may send out these inflammatory cells unnecessarily when you are healthy. This is called chronic inflammation.

The inflammatory response can look like pain, swelling, bruising, and redness as the inflammatory cells work to trap the offending agents or heal the damaged tissue. However, inflammation can also appear in body systems you cannot see.1

Acute vs. Chronic Inflammation

There are two types of inflammation that are seen in the body:

Acute Inflammation

This inflammation occurs as a sudden reaction to damage in the body, such as a cut. The body sends inflammation cells to the affected area, and they begin the first stages of the healing process. Symptoms include redness, pain or tenderness, swelling, and heat in the damaged area.1

Chronic Inflammation

This inflammation occurs after the initial inflammatory cells have done their work and there is no more perceived danger. Your body continues the inflammatory response unnecessarily. Symptoms include abdominal or chest pain, fatigue, fever, joint pain, and rash.1

What are the Most Common Causes of Inflammation?

Chronic inflammation is most often caused by...

  • Autoimmune disorders (ex Lupus)
  • Exposure to toxins (ex pollution, industrial chemicals)
  • Untreated acute inflammation (infection)

Lifestyle factors can contribute to developing chronic inflammation, such as...

  • Excess alcohol consumption
  • Obesity
  • Chronic stress
  • Smoking

How is Inflammation Treated?

Inflammation does not always require treatment, especially in cases of acute inflammation. Acute inflammation can typically find relief through rest, ice, and proper wound care. Chronic inflammation can be treated in a few ways that your healthcare provider may recommend, including supplements, spices, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and steroid drugs. Chronic inflammation has been linked to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer's Disease.1

Foods that Cause Inflammation

The foods we eat can have an impact on how our body triggers its immune response. Some foods which has a negative effect and have been shown to contribute to inflammation include:

  • Margarine, shortening, and lard
  • Refined carbohydrates, like white bread, pastries, pasta, and beer
  • Fried foods, like french fries
  • Soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Red meat, like burgers and steaks, and processed meat, like deli meat, hot dogs, and sausage

Minimize unhealthy fats, refined carbs, fried foods, sugary drinks, and red meat to help reduce unnecessary inflammatory responses in the body. While all of these factors work to induce chronic inflammation, sugar is primary driver of inflammation most important to address in your diet.2

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Fortunately, chronic inflammation can be combated by incorporating certain anti-inflammatory foods into your diet. Here are some examples.


Tomatoes are surprisingly one of the best foods you can incorporate into your diet. They are high in Vitamin C, potassium, and lycopene, which is an antioxidant with significant anti-inflammatory properties. Further, lycopene is considered to have important anti-inflammatory properties important to aiding several types of cancer. Cooking tomatoes in olive oil, in itself an anti-inflammatory super food, can help you to unlock more benefits of tomato's lycopene.3


Berries are a wonderful source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These are all compounds that contribute to reducing and combating inflammation in the body. Some of the best berries to go for are strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.3


Nuts like walnuts and almonds have been shown to help reduce chronic inflammation in the body, as they are high in monounsaturated fats, which can reduce your cholesterol and help alleve chronic inflammation, as well as omega 3s and fiber. The best nuts are labeled as plain and "raw", as nuts that have added oils may not be as beneficial.4

Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest fats available to incorporate into your diet. It is also rich in monounsaturated fats. It is a staple of Mediterranean diets, often considered to be the healthiest way of eating, and provides numerous health benefits with a low calorie count. While all olive oil has anti-inflammatory properties and is good for you, extra virgin olive oil provides a more significant concentration of benefits.3

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens like kale, spinach, and swiss chard are significant sources of antioxidants that can help your body to fight inflammation. Incorporating some of these greens into salads or cooking them down into soups or sauces are great ways to work on incorporating them further into your diet.4

Fatty Fish

Fatty fishes are excellent sources of protein, long-chain omega 3 fatty acid EPAs, and DHA, which help reduce inflammation. While all fish contain some amount of omega 3s, they are more prevalent in some fish than others. The best sources include salmon, sardines, mackerel, and herring.3

15 Anti-Inflammatory Foods Grocery List

  1. Tomatoes
  2. Strawberries
  3. Blueberries
  4. Blackberries
  5. Raspberries
  6. Walnuts
  7. Almonds
  8. Olive Oil
  9. Kale
  10. Spinach
  11. Swiss Chard
  12. Salmon
  13. Sardines
  14. Mackerel
  15. Herring

The Bottom Line

Inflammation occurs in the body when it senses a foreign agent like bacteria or viruses and when there is tissue damage needing to be healed. Typically, the body's immune response quickly addresses these concerns (acute inflammation). However, sometimes the body over addresses them by continuing the immune response unnecessarily (chronic inflammation). Lifestyle choices, including the foods in your diet, can contribute to worsening or improving chronic inflammation. There are a multitude of anti-inflammatory foods that are easy to incorporate into your diet to address concerns of inflammation, including tomatoes, berries, nuts, olive oil, leafy greens, and fatty fishes.



headshot of Jay Todtenbier 2018

Jay Todtenbier is an original founder of in 2010 and has operated the business ever since. He is also a tennis instructor and gospel musician. Formerly he spent 25 years in business development, technology and marketing with startups and major corporations having gone through the tech boom in Silicon Valley in the 90s. He became passionate about, and began studying and practicing Wellness as a Lifestyle after experiencing chronic, personal health challenges including depression, auto-immune disorders, and being overweight that impacted his ability to live a healthy, vibrant life. Since then, he has been an advocate for healthier living encouraging others to live better through making small, gradual changes to lifestyle behaviors relating to whole-foods nutrition, stress management, reasonable exercise, proper sleep, and the use of targeted, high-quality supplements.

Learn more about Jay Todtenbier.

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