Top Anti-Inflammatory Foods (Food Groups)

Claudia Pillow, Ph.D.

Dr. Pillow is known for her healthy gluten-free viewpoint, whether it be a recipe or dietary suggestions. Her article below on anti-inflammatory foods is a great resource for us all. Please read it all the way through, as you will find that the anti-inflammatory foods that she lists may already be in your kitchen, and is a money saver compared to purchasing tons of supplements!Top Anti-Inflammatory Food Groups

by Dr. Claudia Pillow

In past articles, I have discussed how inflammation is the underlying cause of most chronic and autoimmune disorders. The major cause of inflammation in the body is the food we eat so eating anti-inflammatory foods is important for good health. Food allergies and intolerances have been implicated in a wide range of medical conditions, affecting every part of the body: from mildly uncomfortable indigestion, to severe illnesses including celiac disease and diabetes, to developmental disorders such as ADHD and Autism. The inflammatory reaction occurs when an ingested food molecule acts as an antigen, a substance that causes the immune system to produce antibodies against it. Autoimmune diseases are characterized by chronic inflammation:

  • Celiac Disease (CD): inflammation of small intestine
  • Crohn’s Disease: inflammation of intestinal walls
  • Alzheimer’s Disease: inflammation of brain cells
  • Arthritis: inflammation of joint tissue and cartilage
  • Lupus: inflammation of joints and organs

Therefore, it is important to eat a diet that is both protective against inflammation and anti-inflammatory. All too often we see lists of top anti-inflammatory foods. Below I offer a list of top types of foods. Our ancestors ate a varied diet of plant and animal foods based on local environment and availability. We should too!

Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids:

Animal Sources: wild salmon, anchovies, mackerel & sardines

Plant Sources: hemp, chia seeds, flaxseed meal and walnuts

Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function. In fact, infants who do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids from their mothers during pregnancy are at risk for developing vision and nerve problems. Symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression, and poor circulation.

Colorful anti-oxidant rich vegetables

Choose dark leafy greens like spinach and kale; broccoli and cauliflower; sea          vegetables like kelp; red peppers, sweet potatoes and cabbage.  Inflammatory            conditions result in a much greater production of free radicals than is usual. For this reason, people with inflammatory conditions like CD and diabetes should aim for a much more generous intake of antioxidants than usual to minimize the increased risk of cell damage. These vegetables contain anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer phytonutrients that help detoxify the body and reduce free radical damage.

Monosaturated fats

Plant sources include avocado, raw soaked nuts (almonds, cashews, pecans and macadamia) and olive oils. Eating monounsaturated fats reduces inflammation by interfering with leukotrienes (naturally produced molecules that contribute to inflammation).


Spices: including turmeric, curry, ginger, garlic and chili peppers.

These spices inhibit pro-inflammatory compounds. Turmeric contains curcumin which inhibits enzymes that participate in the synthesis of inflammatory substances in the body. The natural anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin is comparable in strength to steroidal drugs, and some nonsteroidal drugs but does not have the same dangerous side effects. Chili peppers contain the phytochemical capsaicin which reduces levels of substance P, the compound in the body that triggers inflammation and pain impulses from the central nervous system.

Tropical Fruits: including pineapple, papaya and coconut.

Pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme that aids in the healing of indigestion, and muscle and joint swelling. This enzyme is anti-inflammatory and has been proven to suppress the inflammation and pain of many forms of arthritis, sports injuries, and joint conditions. Papaya contains papain, a protein digesting enzyme that helps reduce inflammation and improves digestion. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory that accelerates wound healing, swelling, and adhesions after surgery. Inflammation begins when your immune system is compromised. Coconut oil is antiviral, antibacterial, and parasiticidal (kills parasites). Coconut oil is protective in nature and supports immune function.

And don’t forget to drink Green Tea. The tea contains flavonoids that are potent anti-inflammatory compounds. Eat, drink, be healthy!

If you enjoyed this article on the top anti-inflammatory foods, and wish to learn more about Dr. Pillow and her sister, Annalise Roberts, co-authors of Gluten-Free Good Health Cookbook, visit their gluten-free website, The Food Philosopher.

14 Replies to “Top Anti-Inflammatory Foods (Food Groups)”

  1. Very good that someone understands how a gluten intolerant person has to watch the normal pasta being eaten by my family and the gluten one that’s so gastly you don’t even want to eat it, as it tastes terrible do you perhaps have a gluten dough that I can make one that tastes nice as I have a pasta maker machine.

  2. I just had a Comprehensive Food Panel IgG ELISA and Immunoglobulins done, and sadly, some of these very anti-inflammatory food are on the list of those that cause inflammation in MY body! Flax, papaya, coconut, walnuts, and yes, even broccoli are all on the list that I’m to avoid. I’m also a celiac and am allergic to the protein in milk (so butter is OK), as well as a host of other things. Not only do I have to look for gluten-free, dairy-free recipes–they also have to be egg, soy, corn, quinoa, millet and garbanzo-free too. I find this greatly frustrating–I feel like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Where do I go to find recipes that will “fit” my needs?

    1. Hi Karen,

      I feel for you and completely understand where you’re coming from. I have several food allergies myself. Meanwhile, here is a link that will help you – You’ll just have to sift out the recipes that contain or millet. Note that cornstarch may be substituted for potato starch easily. Cornstarch just has a slightly higher ability to crisp. Very few of my recipes contain millet flour and none of my personal recipes contain garbanzo flour. Enjoy!


  3. Hi , The Gluten free diet is helping me with my chronic pain and Thyroid problems!!! That the Dr’s won’t give me any Throxine because Dr’s in UK go on results only TSH not all the other ones. My antibodies are raised and still getting no where and not on research! I have a goiter that has grown over 5 yrs and If I try different foods helps to reduce the information around the top half of my body! Mainly my arms,shoulders, neck, jaw and Gums i have to wear an erazor for! With other symptoms including my fogged up brain have had all my life! No meds given for this! The pain comes and goes! I am trying to get off my strong pain relief and antidepressants! I have started taking multi vits to help, so I have something to start me off as not getting any where. they told me the thyroid should slow down! I hope so soon as I won’t be able to breath, hear or swallow soon! On soft diet. even going privately didn’t help only to offered a thyroidectomy for cosmetic reasons! Please could let me know of any foods/herbs etc that have something in to help these symptoms / problems!!!

  4. Thank you for the great information. I knew of few of these foods were anti-inflammatory but it’s very helpful to have a greater variety to choose from.

  5. Thank you so much for this information! I am looking forward to trying out some of the foods & spices I read about in this article to help with my arthritis :)

  6. the gluten and dairy free diet has allowed my husband to be free from his prescription asthma medications for 5 years

  7. Thanks for your info!! Just wondering about your thoughts on Nightshade Vegetables and Arthritis? There is a lot of buzz and I noticed your recommendations include them… just wanted to know your thoughts…

    Thanks :)

    1. Hi Lisa,

      From what I’ve read the effects of nightshades on those with arthritis vary. My belief is that anyone with any type of symptom should do an allergy elimination diet. And if you have arthritis avoid the nightshades and introduce them eventually. Check out my article on the Allergy Elimination Diet on my old blog: . And you’ll find most of my recipes are tomato-free, as I’m allergic to them. Hopefully this helps many people sensitive to nightshades.

      I hope this helps.


  8. Thank you for this article. I didn’t know anything about the great effects of pineapple.

    PS: I noticed your link on the right side of the web page has Crohn’s misspelled.

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