6 Myths About Anti-Inflammatory Diets

6 Myths About Anti-Inflammatory Diets

Trying to curb inflammation in your diet for whole-body health? Watch out, because there are certain common myths about what does and does not promote inflammation in your diet. If you believe anti-inflammatory diet myths, you might cut out foods you do not need to. Not only will this deprive you of some of the joys of eating and make it harder to stick with your diet, but it could also rob you of valuable nutrition.

In this post, we are going to dispel 6 myths about anti-inflammatory diets so you can eat a more richer, more varied, and more effective diet while fighting inflammation.

1. You need to get rid of all inflammation.

Inflammation plays a critical role in immune health, so it is important to remember that it is not on its own “bad.” In fact, you would not want to stop all inflammation in your body. It would interfere with your recovery from injuries and illnesses.

But you do not want chronic inflammation in your body. That is inflammation that goes on long after an acute event. The goal of an anti-inflammatory diet is to tame those chronic fires and promote healthy immune function.

2. Dairy products are pro-inflammatory.

Think you need to toss out all the milk, butter and cheese in your fridge and eat a dairy-free diet to fight inflammation? Think again.

Ginger Hultin, MS RDN CSO, says, “There is some research actually that shows that dairy could cause some irritation or inflammation in some people, but the majority of the research actually shows that dairy is anti-inflammatory.”

If you do not notice any problems consuming dairy, then it may be just fine to keep eating and drinking dairy products. In fact, they could give you a healthy dose of protein and calcium.


3. No one should eat gluten.

There are some people who cannot eat gluten because they have a sensitivity to it or a health condition such as celiac disease.

But a lot of people believe that nobody is supposed to be eating gluten if they want to avoid promoting inflammation in their diets.

That is simply not true. Lots of people can eat gluten without worrying about it ramping up inflammation or causing other problems. There is no reason to stop eating gluten if you do not have to.

4. Certain fruits and vegetables should be avoided.

There are some types of fruits and vegetables that people eating anti-inflammatory diets widely try to avoid, despite the fact that doing so is not necessary.

One prominent example is nightshade vegetables. These include veggies like eggplants, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes.

The reason people think they cannot eat these without driving up inflammation is because they contain compounds called alkaloids.

Alkaloids are problematic in large amounts, but nightshade vegetables do not contain high concentrations. Moreover, research does not suggest they promote inflammation.

Sometimes people trying to reduce inflammation also steer clear of citrus fruits (and fruits in general).

Hultin says, “All fruits and vegetables are also anti-inflammatory. Unless you specifically have an allergy to one of them, every fruit and every vegetable is a go.”

Both fruits and vegetables provide you with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and micronutrients your body needs. So, on an anti-inflammatory diet, you should be eating more fruits and vegetables, not less.

5. You need to go vegan.

As we discussed already, you might be under the impression that you have to give up dairy products to eat an anti-inflammatory diet. You might also believe that you have to sacrifice eating meats as well. Do you really need to be a vegan to be eating an anti-inflammatory diet?

The answer is “no.” This is another myth. It does have some basis in fact, however. Some meats (red meats in particular) tend to be high in saturated fats. These fats can promote inflammation, and it is important not to overindulge in them.

But that does not mean you can never eat a juicy slab of steak again. It just means you should not do it too often.

You also can eat meats that are lower in saturated fats. Chicken and turkey are generally better choices than beef, pork and lamb. You also can add more fish to your diet to get healthy anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.

6. Soy promotes inflammation.

A lot of people are under the impression that soy contributes to inflammation in the body. But research suggests that if anything, the opposite may be true. Here is a study that took a look at inflammatory markers in Chinese women in comparison to their level of soy food intake. The researchers found that those markers were lower in women who ate soy foods.

Now, there is a lot of ongoing debate about whether soy acts as an endocrine disruptor. This article says, “Soy isoflavones are frequently referred to as weak estrogens, and depending upon the specific circumstance, they can act as agonists, partial agonists, or antagonists to endogenous estrogens (such as estradiol) and xenoestrogens (including phytoestrogens) at estrogen receptors.”

Most recommendations at this point are to avoid taking supplements that contain high doses of soy, but to continue eating soy in moderation if you feel comfortable with it. Of course, if you do not, you can always skip it. But just know you do not need to do so specifically to avoid inflammation.

When we blindly believe myths about anti-inflammatory diets, we stop eating a lot of foods that are actually good for us. The truth is that an anti-inflammatory diet does not have to be severely restrictive. It can include a wide variety of foods and beverages you love.

Avoid foods rich in sugar and refined carbohydrates, fried foods cooked in unhealthy oils, heavily-processed foods, and other prime suspects, and you should be well on your way toward making a difference for your health with an effective anti-inflammatory diet.


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