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3 Tips to Decrease Inflammation with Diet

Contributed by Dr. Tara Pandiscia PT, DPT, PYT

The saying goes “we are what we eat” and research has shown that there is a link between diet and inflammation. You may have heard that some foods and diets can be “anti-inflammatory” but what does that mean for your pain? Many pain conditions, including osteoarthritis, are worsened by chronic systemic inflammation (meaning inflammation throughout your body, not just in a specific painful area). Factors that can lead to increased levels of inflammation include stress, poor sleep, lack of physical activity, obesity, and diet.


So what should you eat to decrease inflammation? One simple solution is: Eat More Plants! Diets rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains have been shown to decrease inflammation and improve immune system function. Here are three ways that you can increase your plant intake:


  1. Try adding in an extra serving of fruit or vegetables at meals and snacks. Eat an orange with your breakfast instead of juice. Slice up an apple or add some berries to your lunch or snack. Cook up those vegetables that are sitting in the bottom of the produce drawer as an extra side dish with dinner.

  2. Challenge yourself to eat at least 8 different kinds of plants each day. Every different fruit or veggie counts! Try to “eat the rainbow” for diversity of nutrients.

  3. Go meatless for one meal or one day each week and substitute beans, legumes, or meat replacements such as tofu or tempeh. Many people worry that they won’t get enough protein without meat but plants have protein, too! Beans, lentils, soy, quinoa, and spinach all have high levels of protein and have less fat and calories per serving than meat.

There are many ways to increase your plant intake and it doesn’t have to mean a dramatic change to your diet, just small changes that add up to more plants and less inflammation.

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