Many people are confused about what inflammation is and why we should be concerned about it, and there are many myths about what foods affect inflammation.

For everything we need to know, he informs us Mr. Eumenis P. Karafyllidis, BSC (HONS), MSC, NYSCDN Clinical Dietitian – Nutritionist, Director of Dietetics Department Metropolitan General:


Generally, inflammation occurs in the body when it reacts to something abnormal. Acute inflammation, which occurs after an injury or infection, is a normal, healthy process. The immune system is mobilized to destroy foreign invasions, clean up damaged tissue and regenerate it. Chronic or systemic inflammation is a destructive process. It happens when the immune system is constantly at high risk, on “alert”, and ends up destroying the body. Instigators of this process can be unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, unmanageable stress and lack of sleep, combined with environmental factors.

“Chronic inflammation contributes to many long-term diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. There is research showing that reducing inflammation may further reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke even when blood cholesterol is not at optimal levels.

Diet and lifestyle changes are the best way to prevent or reduce chronic inflammation. Research has shown that a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods can reduce the risk of chronic disease, as well as boost gut and brain health, and slow skin aging.

The term anti-inflammatory diet does not mean anything so specific, but the traditional Mediterranean Diet is a good model for someone to follow, with a lot of scientific evidence to support it”, emphasizes Mr. Karafyllidis

Foods to eat more of

“Fatty fish, olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds are foods that you can consume without fear,” he says and continues: “From fish, sardines, mackerel, anchovies and trout are equally good choices. The goal is to eat at least two fish meals a week. If you don’t like fish, then consider taking a good quality fish oil supplement. Of the nuts, walnuts, according to most research, have high rates of anti-inflammatory action, but almonds are also an excellent choice. Olive oil, the key ingredient of the Mediterranean diet, has high concentrations of antioxidants, as well as “healthy” monounsaturated fats.

Fruits and non-starchy vegetables are known for the fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients they contain. You can’t go wrong when you choose non-starchy vegetables for at least half of your plate. Top choices are green leafy vegetables – kale, spinach, chard – and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Also, garlic and onion are anti-inflammatory. Of the fruits, berries, cherries and oranges have the strongest effect against inflammation”, he says and adds:

“Prefer whole grain foods, beans and lentils. Also focus on oats, quinoa, and brown rice rather than foods made from whole wheat flour, such as bread, tortillas, and crackers.
Although many anti-inflammatory diet approaches claim that whole grains and legumes (eg, beans, peas, and lentils) increase inflammation, research shows mixed results. Legumes are high in fiber and magnesium, which has been shown to help reduce inflammation.”

Foods to eat less of

“Sugar and refined grains (white flour) should be avoided. Foods high in white flour and soft drinks, which are high in sugar can raise blood sugar, leading to inflammation.
“Saturated fats (found in animal foods, palm oil and coconut oil) can increase levels of inflammation, and fried foods contain high levels of highly inflammatory glycation end products,” says the expert.

The lifestyle

“Even the healthiest diet is not enough if your daily life is filled with stress and/or lack of sleep. “Frequent physical activity and exercise has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, plus it can help manage stress and improve sleep quality,” she explains.

Myths about anti-inflammatory foods

“Tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and potatoes have been the target of many, which are blamed for their inflammatory effect. But research and details determine a lot. These vegetables contain substances called alkaloids that are toxic and inflammatory when consumed in excess.

But even the most ardent supporters e.g. of tomato they are not going to be able to consume such large quantities. Not only are these vegetables not associated with chronic inflammation, they are instead part of the traditional and anti-inflammatory Mediterranean diet. In addition, tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant phytonutrient.

Note that only if you have an actual allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity to a particular food, then yes, that food is inflammatory to you. This is true for gluten and dairy products, which are often accused of being involved in inflammation,” he points out.

Don’t exaggerate things…

“Even though excess sugar and refined grains can promote inflammation, a piece of cake won’t kill you.
Beware of strict diet plans that prohibit even a little sugar or the consumption of entire food groups. This will not only deprive you of pleasure and nutritional variety, but may also cause eating disorders.
Patients and healthcare professionals alike are inundated with information about nutrition. However, many of these are based on anecdotal evidence or isolated studies. It is certain that as science progresses, the facts change. Due to wide access to the internet, where not all old information is deleted, nor is the volume of information evaluated, it is possible that many people get confused when looking for answers, as they can be conflicting. The best option is to turn to the search for reliable information from sources with documented recommendations.
With information available everywhere it is more important than ever that everyone understands that not all information is equally reliable, and that a study simply published in a newspaper is no guide to making decisions about a healthy meal pattern or the right approach “, concludes Mr. Karafyllidis.