Yogurt— a fermented dairy product that contains live bacterial cultures — seems to be worth including in an anti-inflammatory diet. Low-fat yogurt helps bolster the lining of the intestines, which can prevent inflammatory cytokines in the gut from entering the bloodstream after high-calorie or high-fat meals, per a June 2018 study in the Journal of Nutrition .
It's important to read labels before digging in to any old yogurt. Sweetened yogurt can be high in sugar, so you'll want to stick with the unsweetened kind.
2. Dark, Leafy Greens
In general, vegetables are a great pick to promote a healthy diet. Leafy greens, in particular, are believed to fight inflammation because they contain lutein, a chemical that researchers suspect helps fight chronic inflammation in the body.
In a July 2017 study in Atherosclerosis , researchers found that treating the cells with lutein lowered their inflammatory activity. While more research is needed on the anti-inflammatory powers of lutein, in the meantime, adding more greens to your meals will, at the very least, provide you with fibre and other important vitamins and minerals.
3. Whole Grains and Fibre-Rich Foods
High-fibre foods like whole grains, including brown rice and whole-wheat bread and pasta, ward off inflammation because they feed beneficial bacteria living in the gut and help rid the body of unhealthy cholesterol.
Eating a fibre-rich diet can also help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, which can also stave off inflammation.
Try these tips for adding healthy carbohydrates to your diet:
1. Start the day with whole grains.
Try a hot cereal, like old fashioned oats (NOT instant oatmeal), or a cold cereal that lists a whole grain first on the ingredient list and is low in sugar. A good rule of thumb: Choose a cereal that has at least 4 grams of fibre and less than 8 grams of sugar per serving. Whole grains are better sources than refined grains of fibre and other important nutrients, such as B vitamins. Refined grains go through a process that strips out parts of the grain — along with some of the nutrients and fibre.
2. Emphasize fibre-rich fruits and vegetables.
Aim for whole fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables without added sugar. Other options are fruit juices and dried fruits, which are concentrated sources of natural sugar and therefore have more calories. Whole fruits and vegetables also add fibre, water and bulk, which help you feel fuller on fewer calories.
3. Stick to low-fat dairy products.
Milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products are good sources of calcium and protein, plus many other vitamins and minerals. Consider the low-fat versions, to help limit calories and saturated fat. And beware of dairy products that have added sugar.
4. Eat more legumes.
Legumes — which include beans, peas and lentils — are among the most versatile and nutritious foods available. They are typically low in fat and high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium, and they contain beneficial fats and fibre. Legumes are a good source of protein and can be a healthy substitute for meat, which has more saturated fat and cholesterol.
5. Limit added sugars.
Added sugar probably isn't harmful in small amounts. But there's no health advantage to consuming any amount of added sugar!