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Part Two: Eating to Reduce Inflammation

This is part two in a two-part series examining the link between food and inflammation.

Read Part One here.

Inflammation can cause a number of health issues – from arthritis to cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. A healthcare provider may recommend a diet that aims to reduce inflammation. This diet should include a large portion of fruits and vegetables as discussed in the first part of this series.

In addition, replacing refined carbohydrate foods such as white bread, rice, crackers or pasta, with whole grains, beans, soy beans, and lentils, can keep inflammation at bay.

The fiber in whole grains as well as fruits and vegetables reduces a blood marker of inflammation called high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP has been linked with an enhanced risk of stroke and heart attack. Stock up on healthy, high-fiber whole grains, brown and wild rice, quinoa, whole wheat couscous, bulgur, barley, kasha, millet, oats, amaranth, and teff. Consume whole grain (strive for 100 percent whole grain when looking at nutrition labels) breads, pitas, flours tortillas, pastas and cereals.

Eating too many foods with Omega-6 fatty acids increases the production of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins. Foods high in Omega-6 fatty acids include red meat, dairy products, margarine, processed foods, and some vegetable oils (corn, soy, sunflower, safflower, grapeseed). The saturated fats found in red meat, whole dairy foods, coconut oil, palm oil, and cocoa butter fuel inflammation. Trans-fatty acids are found in partially hydrogenated oils, fast foods, and processed food and are pro-inflammatory. Eat healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, and seeds.

Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids leads to a decreased production of inflammatory prostaglandins. Fatty fish such as wild caught salmon, sardines, mackerel, and herring should be eaten at least two times per week. Smaller amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids are found in walnuts, ground flaxseed, enriched eggs, and grass- fed meats.

Probiotic foods which contain beneficial bacteria and prebiotics which are indigestible fiber reduce inflammation. Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and kombucha tea are probiotic. Inulin is a prebiotic and is found in asparagus, garlic, and onions.

Many spices and herbs contain antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory:

  • Basil
  • Black Pepper
  • Cayenne And Chili Peppers
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Curry
  • Ginger
  • Mustard
  • Nutmeg
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Turmeric

If you are overweight, losing 5 percent of your body weight can lower inflammation markers in your blood. The Ornish Reversal Program, for those who qualify, includes stress reduction, love and support, exercise, and a plant-based meal plan. These four components assist in reducing inflammation.

Always consult with your Physician or health care provider before making any dietary/nutrition changes or commencing or changing your physical activity.

Debra Dobies, MA, RD, LDN, is Beebe Healthcare's Ornish Reversal Program Registered Dietitian and Medical Nutrition Therapist. Beebe Healthcare's Ornish Reversal Program is now open in the Beebe Medical Arts Building at the Rehoboth Beach Health Campus. For more information, go to

Beebe Dietitians available
Beebe Healthcare has Registered Dietitians (RD) available for consultation to provide patient education and medical nutrition therapy. An RD is available through Diabetes Management and Medical Nutrition Therapy with referral from a primary care provider, other licensed provider or specialist. The telephone number is (302) 947-2500. Patients at Tunnell Cancer Center have access to a Registered Dietitian, as well. Students at Cape Henlopen High School, Indian River High School and Sussex Central High School can also see a Beebe Healthcare Registered Dietitian through their Wellness Centers.