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How to Begin a Gluten-Free Anti-inflammatory Diet

Dietician Tiffany Torok discusses practical tips on How to Begin a Gluten-Free Anti-inflammatory diet with menu ideas and easy, common-sense action steps. You are not alone if you’ve been considering starting an anti-inflammatory diet. If you or a loved one has been struggling with inflammation, an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle can be instrumental in lowering inflammation. Read on to get practical tips on how to start.

Child holding a huge head of broccoli

What is a Gluten-Free, Anti-inflammatory Diet?

A gluten-free, anti-inflammatory diet does not contain gluten and is high in omega-3 fats, low in omega-6 fats, and high in nutrient-dense foods. This dietary pattern contains whole gluten-free grains, excludes processed foods, and is high in plant-based foods while eliminating red meat and foods high in sugar and saturated fats. Think fresh berries, colorful vegetables, seafood, poultry, beans, legumes, olive oil, and whole gluten-free grains. This type of eating plan, along with other lifestyle changes, can help reduce inflammation.

What is Inflammation?

Inflammation in our bodies occurs either due to trauma or illness. It is the result of your body’s natural immune response to injury. Along with inflammation comes pain, fatigue, feeling unwell, and fever in some cases.

There are two types of inflammation: acute inflammation and chronic inflammation.

  • Acute inflammation is short-term and is usually caused by an injury to your body or an infection that can be treated in less than three months.
  • Chronic inflammation is long-term and is usually caused by an autoimmune disease, cancer, or an infection that lasts longer than three months.

What Lowers Inflammation in the Body

Get our free downloadable 5 Tips to Reduce Inflammation.

  • Rest and Sleep
  • Hydration
  • Exercise
  • Stress Reduction
  • Reducing refined sugar
  • Anti-inflammatory Diet

What Are The Benefits of an Anti-inflammatory Diet

  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease with the Mediterranean Diet, the most widely researched anti-inflammatory diet!
  • Following an anti-inflammatory way of eating can also help to prevent cancer due to its high antioxidants, which help rid the body of free radicals.
  • Additionally, eating this way can improve constipation due to the increased fiber and the added benefits of reduced gastrointestinal inflammation.
  • Better blood sugar control, which improves diabetes
  • Can help prevent stroke
  • Improves Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. Check out the Mind Diet for more information.
  • Improves energy
  • Free radicals are commonly found in processed and fried foods and can cause oxidative stress, ultimately damaging our cells; the quicker our cells have to turn over, the higher the risk of cancer developing from an abnormal cell.

Table with colorful root vegetables

Health Conditions That Benefit From This Diet

Eating anti-inflammatory foods regularly can help improve numerous inflammatory health conditions, such as certain autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. Additionally, other conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and fatty liver disease, as well as certain types of cancer.

How Do You Know If You Should Follow A Gluten-Free Diet?

Numerous conditions benefit from a gluten-free diet, including celiac disease. This autoimmune disease causes intestinal damage, leading to malabsorption and malnutrition when an affected individual consumes gluten.

Additionally, individuals who have IBS or non-celiac gluten sensitivity also benefit from following a gluten-free diet. Additionally, other conditions appear to improve following a gluten-free diet, including psoriasis and autoimmune thyroid disease.

Many individuals with chronic migraine, such as myself, have improved on a gluten-free diet.

What Is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein in certain cereal grains such as wheat, rye, and barley. Oats are generally thought of as coming into cross-contact with gluten during processing unless labeled gluten-free, so regular oats not labeled gluten-free are not considered safe for those following a strict gluten-free diet.

Sample meal plan for an anti-inflammatory diet

Colorful fruits, veggies and fish

Tips To Start an Anti-inflammatory Diet:

At its core, the anti-inflammatory diet is a plant-forward diet.

  1. Try your best to consume more plant-based proteins and limit animal products. If you still have cravings, it’s okay. You are human. Start slowly and add more anti-inflammatory foods every week.
  2. Include a variety of beans, legumes, and soy products such as organic edamame and tofu.
  3. Snack on macadamia nuts, walnuts, pistachio nuts, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and flaxseeds.
  4. Increase seafood and fatty fish such as salmon, halibut, and sardines.
  5. Limit poultry such as chicken and eggs to a few times per week.
  6. Replace full-fat Dairy Products with low-fat dairy and plant-based milks.
  7. Avoid red meat, bacon, processed deli meats, high-fat meats, fried foods, and whole milk.
  8. Include seed oils such as flaxseed and grape seed oil, nut oils such as walnut oil, canola oil, olive oil, and avocado oil.
  9. Minimize vegetable oils such as corn oil, soy oil, vegetable oil, some seed oils such as safflower seed, sesame seed, sunflower seed oil, and vegetable forms of saturated fats such as coconut and palm oil.
  10. Avoid or limit: Lard, butter, and hydrogenated oils like margarine.
  11. Include whole grains such as certified gluten-free oatmeal, popcorn, teff, quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, and brown rice. Avoid processed grain products like white bread and rice and ultra-processed foods like fast food. Also, avoid all gluten-containing grains.
  12. Fruits and Vegetables – feel free to include one to two servings of fruit and as many vegetables as you want to enjoy in a day. The more, the better! Both fruits and vegetables are high in anti-inflammatory compounds.

Tips To Integrate Anti-inflammatory Foods

  • Puree Colorful Veggies. Add steamed and pureed carrots, squash, parsnips, rutabaga, pumpkin, sweet potato, or zucchini to sauces for silkiness. You can add these to soups, stews, and smoothies.
  • Serve every meal with a side of veggies!
  • Have a large, fresh salad meal with colorful veggies and greens.
  • Explore the delicious world of Microgreens!
  • Snack on a piece or two of fresh fruit! Add Berries to yogurt, oatmeal etc.
  • Add creaminess without dairy. Add ripe avocados to thicken up soups and salad dressings.
  • Fresh herbs. Add fresh herbs to soups, homemade hummus, salad dressings, and marinades instead of adding sugar.
  • Try Almond Milk. Add almond or low-fat coconut milk to soups and smoothies to create a creamy and thick consistency without butter, milk, or cream.
  • Toss in delicious, whole grains. Add a few scoops of cooked brown rice or fluffy quinoa to sauteed veggies.

Top 20 Anti-inflammatory Foods


  • Berries
  • Citrus
  • Pineapple
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Ginger
  • Sardines
  • Salmon
  • Garlic
  • Turmeric
  • Quinoa
  • Oats
  • Teff
  • Soy
  • Tree nuts
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Sunflower seed oil
  • Flaxseed
  • Rosemary
  • Kefir

Frequently Asked Questions

How long after going on a gluten-free anti-inflammatory diet will you feel better?

If you have Celiac Disease or Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, it can take days to weeks to months. Everyone responds differently due to bio-individual differences and the severity of their condition. Remember that it took time for inflammation to develop, and it will take time for it to improve.

What’s the most recognized anti-inflammatory diet?

The Mediterranean Diet is the most recognized anti-inflammatory and is a straightforward way to eat healthily. This dietary pattern is based on how individuals who live near the Mediterranean Sea eat and is one of the Blue Zone areas where people have long lives. The basics of this way of eating are to eliminate processed foods like white flour, fried foods like french fries, and high-fructose corn syrup like what is found in soda and include healthy oils, whole grains, fresh herbs, oily fish, fresh fruits, and vegetables and even include in moderation dark chocolate and red wine.

I hope you liked this Anti-inflammatory Diet article. Sign up for our weekly newsletter for more recipes and gluten-free living tips!

References

1. InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. What is an inflammation? 2010 Nov 23 [Updated 2018 Feb 22]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279298/

2. Calimeris, D., & Cook, L. (2017). Anti-inflammatory Food List. In The complete anti-inflammatory diet for beginners: A no-stress meal plan with easy recipes to heal the immune system. essay, Rockridge Press.

3. Pahwa R, Goyal A, Jialal I. Chronic Inflammation. [Updated 2023 Aug 7]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/

4. Passali M, Josefsen K, Frederiksen JL, Antvorskov JC. Current Evidence on the Efficacy of Gluten-Free Diets in Multiple Sclerosis, Psoriasis, Type 1 Diabetes and Autoimmune Thyroid Diseases. Nutrients. 2020; 12(8):2316. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12082316

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