Does An Anti-Inflammatory Diet Really Work?

When you're injured or sick, your body's first defense is to produce inflammation — which is a healthy and normal response. However, chronic inflammation can result in chronic diseases, like cancer and cardiovascular illness (via VerywellFit). That's precisely what the anti-inflammatory diet seeks to target. Rather than a short-term hack for losing weight, the goal is to create healthy patterns that keep inflammation — and the risk of related illnesses — low. But does it really work?

If you're on an anti-inflammatory eating plan, it's important to know that you shouldn't expect the same short-term results that you would from a traditional diet. It may take weeks or months to feel a difference, and some individuals will have to experiment to figure out which staples of the diet work best for them (via Arthritis Health). For example, if you're sensitive to gluten, you'll want to forgo the wheat products typically encouraged in the diet. You'll get a better sense of how it's working for you by keeping a food journal and a diary of your symptoms.

What should I expect on an anti-inflammatory diet?

The anti-inflammatory diet is similar to the Mediterranean diet, which promotes eating fresh foods, healthy fats, and even encourages red wine (via Eating Well). You'll want to avoid foods that are deep-fried, overly processed, or high in sugar, as these items tend to trigger an inflammatory response.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the anti-inflammatory diet is considered an integrative approach. You can enhance your results by losing weight, which has an anti-inflammatory impact on its own. You'll also get a boost from regular exercise and keeping your stress levels low, as well as acupuncture and other therapies designed to target inflammation. Harvard Health Publishing notes that in addition to the physical benefits, a healthier diet can have a profound impact on your mental health as well. So an anti-inflammatory diet won't necessarily have you dropping pounds quickly, but it could be a powerful investment in your overall health.