Inflammation is a key concern for people living with digestive diseases and other health concerns. Walnuts, turmeric, flaxseeds, green tea, broccoli sprouts, fatty fish, olive oil, and others, are touted by different research studies (of varying rigor) as having anti-inflammatory properties. Likewise, non-Western medical approaches like Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) also focus on adjusting the inflammatory properties of an individual’s diet to help “cool down” excessive heat in the body. Should patients craft their diets around anti-inflammatory foods?

Lori Welstead, MS, RD, LDN UChicago Medicine

“We know that no single food is a silver bullet, but we also know that nutritionally, some foods serve you better than others,” says Lori Welstead, RD, one of the expert nutrition scientists at the University of Chicago Medicine Digestive Diseases Center, who coaches patients on dietary changes to best support their overall digestive health and symptom relief. For many patients, the best diet is a whole food-based Mediterranean-style diet. This diet incorporates many of the foods that have demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties in research, and minimizes consumption of processed foods.

“Inflammation in the body system is complex. If controlling it were as simple as ingesting a small amount of a specific food, we would all just do that. But we know what we eat is a result of many things—culture, economics, preferences, and access. Fortunately, dietitians are always here to help patients make a plan that is right for them,” says Welstead.