Eat This, Not That

Your body is built to fight off anything that may harm it, from infections to injuries to toxins in the air. And when your body is in danger, your immune system to triggered to respond.1 That response is called inflammation—i.e., your body’s way of protecting and healing itself.2 Eventually, you become healthy again. But what if you don’t?

For some, inflammation can become chronic and persist; instead of becoming your ally, it becomes your worst nightmare.3 In fact, systemic inflammation is a known precursor to chronic illness.4,5

Unfortunately, chronic inflammation may be more common than you think. An otherwise healthy person can have a low to moderate amount of inflammation in his or her body and not even know it. The good news? There are plenty of foods you can eat that have been shown to help reduce chronic inflammation and can therefore promote overall health; there are also plenty of foods that have been linked to promoting inflammation which you can avoid. Keep these lists in mind at your next meal!

Do eat:

Leafy greens

Vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, and kale are packed with antioxidants that protect your body from foreign invaders.4,6


Varieties including blueberries, raspberries, cherries, and strawberries are high in protective compounds such as antioxidants and polyphenols.4,7


Healthy snacks like almonds and walnuts have been associated with reduced markers of inflammation.4


A superfood rich in monounsaturated fats as well as carotenoids and tocopherols, avocados can reduce your risk for chronic illness.9,10

Dark chocolate

A delicious treat with plenty of antioxidants to fight off inflammation. It may even lead to healthier aging.11

Green tea

Sip on this ultrahealthy drink for its antioxidative, anti-inflammatory properties, particularly its high levels of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). This substance inhibits proinflammatory cytokine production.12,13

Fatty fish

Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish (e.g., salmon) are metabolized into anti-inflammatory compounds called resolvins.4,14

Extra virgin olive oil

This kitchen staple is full of healthy monounsaturated fats and has been shown to reduce inflammatory markers.4


This beloved spice contains curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory nutrient.8


Your favorite morning beverage contains polyphenols and other anti-inflammatory compounds.

Note: Many of the foods on this list make the cut in one of the most well-researched diets in the world—the Mediterranean diet. Overall, the plant-based combination of healthy fats, carbs, and protein is shown to reduce key markers of inflammation.4,15-18

Eat less:

Saturated fats

Found in virtually all processed, packaged junk foods as well as things like shortening and lard, saturated fats can throw off immune cells and trigger inflammation. Common culprits include pizza, pasta, cheese, and red meat products.19

Refined carbs

These include white flour (breads, rolls, and crackers), white potatoes (French fries), and many breakfast cereals, which contain a high glycemic index.4,21

Processed meats

Consumption of processed red meats (burgers, hot dogs, and sausage) has been associated with increased levels of inflammatory markers.4,22

With this information in mind, incorporating more of these plant-based foods and healthy fats into your diet while cutting out sugar and processed foods can be a powerful strategy in supporting your long-term health.

This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare professional for advice on medical issues.


  1. Stoecklein VM et al. J Leukoc Biol. 2012;92(3):539-551.
  2. Nordqvist C. Medical News Today. Accessed March 11, 2019.
  3. Han S. Healthline. Accessed March 7, 2019.
  4. Harvard Medical School. Harvard Health Publishing. Accessed March 8, 2019.
  5. Minihane AM et al. Br J Nutr. 2015;114(7):999–1012.
  6. Guerrero-Beltrán CE et al. Exp Toxicol Pathol. 2012;64(5):503-508.
  7. Joseph SV et al. J Agric Food Chem. 2014;62(18):3886-3903.
  8. Chainani-Wu N et al. J Altern Complement Med. 2003;9(1):161-168.
  9. Lu QY et al. J Agric Food Chem. 2009;57(21):10408-10413.
  10. Donnarumma G et al. Inflammation. 2011;34(6):568-575.
  11. Becker K et al. Front Pharmacol. 2013;4:154.
  12. Tipoe GL et al. Cardiovasc Hematol Disord Drug Targets. 2007;7(2):135-144.
  13. Molina N et al. Int Immunopharmacol. 2015;28(2):985-996.
  14. Weylandt KH et al. Prostaglandins Other Lipid Mediat. 2012;97(3-4):73-82.
  15. Casas R et al. PLoS One. 2014;9(6):e100084.
  16. Casas R et al. Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 2016;14(4):245–254.
  17. Sofi F et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Nov;92(5):1189-1196.
  18. Giugliano D et al. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2006;48(4):677-685.
  19. Weiler N. University of California San Francisco. Accessed March 8, 2019.
  20. Innes JK et al. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2018;132:41-48.
  21. Hu FB. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91(6):1541–1542.
  22. Weiwan C et al. J Am Coll Nutr. 2017;36(5):378–385.
  23. Waldschmidt TJ et al. Alcohol. 2008;42(2):137–142.

Submitted by the Metagenics Marketing Team

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