My Top 6 Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Mark’s Daily Apple
by Mark Sisson: Why
the Night Sky Matters: The Ramifications of Light Pollution
Before I begin,
let me preface this post with the identification of a simple confounder
for everyone to consider as they read: context. Any discussion of
a concept as nebulous, multifaceted, and confusing as inflammation
must integrate the question of context. Inflammation itself is highly
contextual – as I've discussed in previous
installments, there are times when inflammation is a good thing
and times when inflammation is a negative thing. There are also
times when anti-inflammatory actions, drugs, or foods are negatives,
even though "anti-inflammatory" has a positive connotation. If you
blunt the post-exercise
inflammatory response with an anti-inflammatory drug, for example,
you also run the risk
of blunting the positive effects of that workout.
We must also
pay attention to acute and systemic inflammation when discussing
the desirability of an "anti-inflammatory" food. Eating a big meal
tends to raise inflammatory
markers in the short term. If you're overeating every single
meal, this is problematic; the acute will become the norm – the
chronic. If you're eating big after a massive workout session, or
because you're celebrating at an amazing restaurant with your dearest
friends, or because you're coming off a twenty-four hour IF,
it's fine. Context.
glycemic foods, namely refined carbohydrates that digest quickly
and represent a big, instantly-available caloric load, tends to
raise inflammatory markers in the short term. Again, if you're pounding
bags of chips or white bread while sitting on the couch and the
only walking you've done all day is to the pantry, those high glycemic
foods will be inflammatory (to say nothing of the antinutrients
in the bread or the rancid vegetable oil in the chips). And
if you do the same thing on a regular basis, they will induce systemic
inflammation – or at least continuous acute spikes that mimic systemic
inflammation. If you're eating a fast-digesting, high-glycemic white
after your glycogen-depleting sprint
workout, you will refill your insulin-sensitive muscles and the
subsequent inflammatory spike will be either nonexistent or nothing
to worry about. Competitive athletes probably thrive on high glycemic
foods, couch potatoes develop metabolic syndrome eating the same
to be inflammatory. I'm (sort of) one of them. I'll readily eat
put cream in coffee,
slice quality cheeses,
and have a cup of Greek yogurt,
but a tall glass of store-bought milk doesn't sit well with me.
I don't have to run to the toilet or anything; I just don't feel
as good as I did before the glass of milk. Is milk, then, "inflammatory"?
It could be, for me (though perhaps a glass of raw A2 cow, goat
or sheep milk would have a different effect). It may not be for
you. Dairy certainly wasn't inflammatory for this group of adult
men with metabolic syndrome, nor for this group
of pregnant women. For both groups, the inclusion of dairy had
an anti-inflammatory effect. That doesn't mean dairy is inherently
anti-inflammatory; it might just mean that dairy
was better than whatever it replaced. Context.
So when I begin
to rattle off my list of anti-inflammatory foods, keep these confounders
in mind. Realize that what's good for the chronically-inflamed,
vegetable oil-guzzling goose may not be as crucial for the sprightly,
sardine-slurping gander. If you've got a casein allergy, even the
dairy will be inflammatory. But what follows is a list (plus
scientific references where applicable) of foods I've personally
found to be anti-inflammatory. Since I don't carry around a CRP-ometer,
I've tried to include references if available.
get it through molecularly-distilled oil, deep-red wild sockeye,
or by exclusively eating pastured animal products, omega-3s
are required for a healthy inflammatory response. I feel off when
I haven't eaten any fish for a week or so, but eating salmon
more than three days in a row doesn't really work, either, because
too much omega-3 is similarly problematic (shoot for between a 3:1
and 1:1 ratio of omega-6:omega-3). I can tell I've gone too long
without fish fat when my arthritis starts to sneak up on me. The
advice for reducing omega-6
across the board holds steady, of course, but everyone needs some
form of fish fat. Another bonus is that it usually comes with healthy
fish flesh, skin, bones,
and sea minerals.
associated with CRP in men. The higher the omega-3, the lower
the systemic inflammation.
oil for six months reduced inflammation in patients
with metabolic syndrome and especially those with non-alcoholic
fatty liver disease.
a "fish-fat" emulsion intravenously to patients with systemic inflammatory
response syndrome had anti-inflammatory
and liver-protective effects.
I was going
to list grass-fed
dairy, grass-fed beef/lamb, and pastured egg yolks as separate
categories, but reconsidered. As I mentioned in my post on human
interference factor, the unperturbed animals raised in relative
harmony with their ancestry make the best, healthiest, least inflammatory
food, while stressed-out animals raised in evolutionarily-novel
conditions and on evolutionarily-novel feed make unhealthier and
more inflammatory food. The important factor is that your animal
fat comes from pastured animals who ate grass, that the chickens
who laid your eggs ate grass and bugs and grains/seeds lower in
omega-6. Pastured ruminant and dairy fat contains more conjugated
linoleic acid (CLA) (PDF),
an anti-inflammatory trans fatty acid, and pastured eggs contain
more micronutrients and more omega-3 fats.
In one study,
people with the highest levels of dairy-derived CLA in their tissues
the fewest heart attacks.
Eggs from chickens
on a high-omega-6 diet were higher in omega-6, and they increased
oxidized LDL in people who ate them.
Read this post
to learn why getting CLA from dairy and animal fat is better than
getting it from supplements.
the rest of the article
January 27, 2012
© 2012 Mark's Daily Apple
Best of Mark Sisson