Is a vegetarian diet anti-inflammatory?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Is a vegetarian diet anti-inflammatory?” and will discuss what an anti-inflammatory diet is?

Is a vegetarian diet anti-inflammatory?

Yes, a vegetarian diet is anti-inflammatory. A vegetarian diet may be a viable alternative for persons who want to lower their inflammation levels. Data from 40 research was evaluated by the authors of a 2019 review. People who eat a vegetarian diet are more likely to have lower levels of inflammatory markers, according to the researchers. Around the globe, 46% of non-communicable disease deaths (or 17.5 million) are attributable to cardiovascular disease. Healthy lifestyle choices may reduce the risk of myocardial infarction by 81–94%, whereas pharmacotherapies reduce it by only 20–30%. Globally, cerebrovascular disease is estimated to be the second leading cause of death. Approximately 795,000 strokes occur in the U.S every year. More than 50% of deaths due to strokes in the U.S. are attributable to low consumption of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and high intake of sodium (5).

According to recent research, 268 persons who maintained a strict vegetarian, a lacto-ovo-vegetarian, or a non-vegetarian diet were studied for their dietary habits. Systemic inflammation, as well as insulin resistance, have been linked to a diet high in animal products. The results showed that vegetarians had a more favorable gut microbiota composition. Their food preferences—vegetables, fruits, and whole grains—are rich in fibers and micronutrients, which contribute to reducing oxidative stress, an underlying mechanism of these diseases. Fiber-derived short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), mainly butyrate, acetate, and propionate, are facilitated by the presence of certain commensal bacteria that promote health (1).

A 2014 study from a reputable source found that a vegetarian diet might lessen inflammation levels.

What is inflammation?

From a historical perspective, inflammation has been considered as the natural host response to an acute infectious episode, whereas chronic inflammation has been considered a sign of chronic infection. It has now become clear that low-grade chronic inflammation is a key player in the pathogenesis of most Chronic noncommunicable diseases (CNCDs) which include cardiovascular conditions (mainly heart diseases and stroke), some cancers, chronic respiratory conditions, and type 2 diabetes, affect people of all nationalities and classes and are reaching epidemic proportions worldwide (2).

As a result of inflammation, the body can fight against disease and defend itself from injury. As a rule, it’s an essential aspect of the recovery process. However, some individuals have a medical condition that causes their immune system to malfunction. Inflammation may continue or reoccur as a result of this dysfunction.

Several conditions lead to chronic inflammation: psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma are all examples of this. Nutritional choices may help alleviate the symptoms.

Fruits and vegetables, foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains, lean protein, healthy fats, and spices are all part of an anti-inflammatory diet. Processed foods, red meat, and alcohol are discouraged or restricted.

The anti-inflammatory diet is more of a way of life than a regimen. Anti-inflammatory diets such as the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet may be found in these two instances.

What is an anti-inflammatory diet?

Diets can be either pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory depending on the hormonal responses they generate. This is because these hormonal responses as well as specific nutrients in the diet are intimately connected with the most primitive part of our inflammatory responses: the innate immune system, which is our first line of defense in the generation of inflammation (3).

Inflammatory reactions may be triggered or exacerbated by certain components in meals. People who consume a lot of sugar or processed meals are more prone to experience this.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are the mainstay of an anti-inflammatory diet. Antioxidants may be found in many plant-based meals. Free radicals may be triggered in the body by certain meals, although this is not always the case. Fried meals, for example, are a good example of this.

Antioxidants are found in food molecules known as assisting the body to rid itself of harmful free radicals. Some biological activities, such as metabolism, produce free radicals as byproducts. Stress and smoking, for example, may raise the level of free radicals in the body.

Cellular damage is possible as a result of free radicals. Inflammation may result as a result of this damage, which raises the risk of a variety of illnesses. In addition to the antioxidants produced by the body, dietary antioxidants aid in the removal of these harmful chemicals.

Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities have been reported in vitro and in animal models for many plants, fruits and vegetables. Therefore the health benefits of plant food-based diets could be related to both integrated antioxidant and anti-inflammatory mechanisms exerted by a wide array of phytochemicals present in fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices (4).

Foods high in antioxidants are preferred over those that enhance free radical generation in an anti-inflammatory diet. Oily fish, which contain omega-3 fatty acids, may help lower blood levels of inflammatory proteins. In addition, according to the Arthritis Foundation, fiber may have this impact.

In addition, refined carbohydrates such found in bread, pasta, and processed foods are rapidly broken down to glucose. The more rapidly the glucose enters the bloodstream, the more rapidly insulin is released from the pancreas to remove excess glucose from the bloodstream. On the other hand, carbohydrates such as fruits and vegetables have a much lower glycemic load in a meal, meaning that they have a more limited impact (especially non-starchy vegetables) on the rise of blood glucose levels. As a result, insulin secretion is significantly reduced, and this reduces the potential activation of inflammation (3).

Tips for an anti-inflammatory diet

Changing one’s eating habits might be difficult, however, the following advice may be helpful:

·         During your weekly grocery trip, stock up on a variety of fresh fruits, veggies, and nutritious snacks.

·         Replace fast food lunches with home-cooked meals over time.

·         Rely on mineral water instead of sugary sodas and other drinks.

The following are some further tips:

·         Seeking advice from a physician or other qualified healthcare provider regarding nutritional supplements like cod liver oil or a multivitamin.

·         Maintaining a daily regimen of 30 minutes of brisk exercise.

·         Maintaining a healthy sleep routine to avoid the aggravation of insomnia

According to studies, the overall composition of the anti-inflammatory diet would be approximately 40% low-glycemic-load carbohydrates, 30% low-fat protein, and 30% fat high in monounsaturated fats and low in omega-6 and saturated fatty acids (3).

Foods to avoid in an anti-inflammatory diet


The inflammatory response that some individuals get when they eat gluten is caused by gluten. Restrictive gluten-free diets aren’t suited for everyone. It’s worth trying to see whether cutting out gluten for a time will help alleviate symptoms if someone feels gluten is to blame (6).


People with inflammatory disorders may have flares if they eat nightshade vegetables, such as tomatoes and eggplants, as well as peppers and potatoes. Despite the lack of scientific proof, a person may experiment by removing nightshades from their diet for two to three weeks and see if their symptoms go away (6).


Consuming a lot of carbohydrates, even if they’re good for you, has been shown to increase inflammation in some individuals. Sweet potatoes and whole grains, for example, are good suppliers of antioxidants and other nutrients, despite their high carbohydrate content.

If dietary carbohydrate content in the diet is too high, this will generate excess insulin production. If this is coupled with high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, this can lead to increased cellular inflammation. At the other extreme, when the carbohydrate content is too low, this can generate ketosis with a corresponding rise in cortisol. Between these 2 hormonal extremes exists a zone in which insulin levels are stabilized and blood sugar levels are stabilized, resulting in greater satiety and less fatigue (3).

Foods to eat in an anti-inflammatory diet

It includes several foods that are anti-inflammatory:

·         Are full of nutrients

·         Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich, especially colorful fruits (3)

·         High in good fats, that is, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are strong anti-inflammatory (3).

Polyphenols are the chemicals that give fruits and vegetables their color. At high enough levels, they have anti-inflammatory actions (3). Inflammation-fighting foods include:

·         Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and cherries are just a few of the fruits and vegetables that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

·         fiber from olives and olive oil

Other FAQs about Vegetarian that you may be interested in.

Is absolut 3g vegetarian?

How is vegetarian cheese made?

How is vegetarian chicken made?

Can vegetarians eat seafood?


In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Is a vegetarian diet anti-inflammatory?” and discussed what is an anti-inflammatory diet?


  1. Franco-de-Moraes, Ana Carolina, et al. Worse inflammatory profile in omnivores than in vegetarians associates with the gut microbiota composition. Diabetol metab syn, 2017, 9, 1-8.
  2. Mathur, Neha, and Bente Klarlund Pedersen. Exercise as a mean to control low-grade systemic inflammation. Mediat inflamm, 2008.
  3. Sears, Barry. Anti-inflammatory diets. J Am Coll Nutr, 2015, 34, 14-21.
  4. Serafini, Mauro, and Ilaria Peluso. Functional foods for health: the interrelated antioxidant and anti-inflammatory role of fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and cocoa in humans. Curr pharmaceut des, 2016, 22, 6701-6715.
  5. Kahleova, Hana, Susan Levin, and Neal D. Barnard. Vegetarian dietary patterns and cardiovascular disease. Progr cardiovasc dis, 2018, 61, 54-61.
  6. Patterson, Sarah L., and Sara K. Tedeschi. Anti-Inflammatory Foods. Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. University of California.