How to reduce inflammation with nutrition and lifestyle

Inflammation or swelling is part of the body’s natural healing process and helps fight infection and injury. However, inflammation doesn’t only happen in response to illness and injury. An inflammatory response also occurs when the immune system goes into action without an infection or injury to fight. Since there is nothing to heal, the cells in your immune system that normally protects us begin to damage healthy cells, organs and joints.

When we don’t eat healthily, don’t exercise enough, or have too much stress, the body responds by triggering inflammation.

Managing inflammation can be quite challenging, but it is more than possible with the right lifestyle and nutritional changes. In this blog, I will share some ideas on how you can reduce swelling and attain a healthier and fulfilled lifestyle. 

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is the body’s immune response to physical injury or foreign invaders. It is a necessary biological process, and a natural defence mechanism that protects the body from harmful stimuli initiates healing by releasing white blood cells. While acute inflammation is beneficial in this regard, chronic inflammation can be quite detrimental and lead to serious health issues. 

How does inflammation affect the body?

If you have chronic inflammation, your body’s inflammatory response can eventually start to damage healthy tissues, cells, and organs. This damage can, in turn, lead to swelling and pain in the body. 

It also has  also been linked to the development of several diseases, including:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Asthma
  • Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease
  • Treating inflammation
  • Anti-inflammatory diet

Dietary changes involve reducing consumption of saturated fats, trans-fats, refined sugars. It also incorporates anti-inflammatory foods and supplements into your diet. The “anti-inflammatory diet” favours whole, plant-based foods, high in healthy fats.

If you have inflammation, try a diet focused based on whole, fresh foods:

  • Oily fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel
  • Lean meats, such as chicken
  • Green leafy vegetables, such as kale and spinach
  • Fruits, such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges
  • Beans and lentils
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Olives and olive oil
  • Whole grains
  • Spices, such as ginger and turmeric

Food to avoid:

Consider reducing or cutting these foods out completely:

  • Sugary beverages: Sugar-sweetened cooldrinks and fruit juices
  • Refined carbs: White bread and white pasta.
  • Desserts: biscuits, sweets, cake, and ice cream
  • Processed meat: Hot dogs, polony, sausages, etc.
  • Processed snack foods: Potato chips, crackers, and pretzels
  • Certain oils: Processed oils like sunflower, soybean oil, peanut oil
  • Trans fats: Foods with partially hydrogenated ingredients (check labels for these ingredients)
  • Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption


The following supplements can be incorporated into your diet. Be sure to check with your doctor or dietician if these supplements are safe for you to consume.

  • Spirulina
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Fish oil

Check out some of the customised supplements I offer for various needs. 


Regular exercise is an excellent and easy way to prevent inflammation. Studies have shown that people who are overweight have more inflammation and losing weight may decrease inflammation. Set out 30 to 45 minutes every day for aerobic exercises and 10 to 25 minutes of resistance or weight or training at least four to five times per week.

Manage stress

It’s no surprise that severe stress can lead to chronic inflammation. Use meditation, yoga, therapy, and breathing exercises to manage stress throughout the day. You may not be able to change many of the stressful situations you encounter in life, but you can change our response and perception by learning to manage stress better.


While acute inflammation is a vital part of the healing process, it is necessary to medically treat chronic inflammatory diseases. If your doctor believes that you have an inflammatory condition, they will examine you and conduct tests to confirm your diagnosis. Thereafter, your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs (like ibuprofen, aspirin, etc.) or corticosteroids to reduce pain and inflammation. Always follow the guidance and advice of your doctor when it comes to treating your condition.

Although having inflammation or inflammatory diseases can take a toll on you, it is possible to successfully manage these conditions. All you need is the right lifestyle choices, along with the advice of your doctor and dietician.

If you’re looking for more ways to reduce inflammation with nutrition, contact Ezette Oosthuizen, a qualified dietician in Randburg. 

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