Nutrition to Reduce Inflammation and Speed Up Healing

When someone is injured, the first phase of healing is the inflammatory stage. This is characterized by pain, swelling, redness, and warmth. Healing chemicals are brought to the injured area.

While inflammation is necessary for the repairing process, too much can cause additional damage or sensitivity.

Participating in physical activity will help aid the removal of excess inflammation. Depending on the injury, you may need to find new ways to engage in physical activity.

Nutrition actually plays a powerful role in managing your inflammation. Nutrition is also super helpful in preventing injuries and getting back to full strength at the end-stages of recovery, but we will cover those in other posts.

Before we dive in, I want to mention that some of these foods, herbs, and supplements may interact with medications. Most notably, taking ginger may hinder the effectiveness of blood-thinning drugs. Consult with your physician or a nutritionist prior to making big changes to your diet if you are taking medications or have gastrointestinal issues.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods and Oils


  • Mackerel

  • Salmon

  • Sardines


  • Berries (especially blueberries)

  • Grapefruit

  • Pineapple

  • Limes

  • Lemons

  • Kiwi

  • Mango

  • Papaya

  • Avocado


  • Dark leafy greens

  • Red and yellow bell peppers

  • Broccoli

Mixed nuts and seeds

  • Walnuts

  • Flaxseeds

  • Chia seeds


  • Fish oil

  • Flax oil or ground flax

  • Olive oil

Anti-Inflammatory Herbs and Spices

Curcumin (from turmeric or curry powder)

  • 7 tsp per day of powder

  • 400-600 mg per day in supplement form


  • 100-250 mg per day in capsules

  • 250-1000 mg per day of extract

  • May interact with anticoagulants (i.e. Warfarin)


  • 2-4 cloves per day

  • 600-1200 mg of aged garlic extract

Bromelain (from pineapple)

  • 2 cups of pineapple per day

  • 500-1000 mg in supplement form

Green tea extracts

Pro-Inflammatory Foods to Avoid

Processed foods

  • Breakfast cereals

  • Cheese

  • Canned vegetables

  • Bread

  • Deli meats

  • Microwave meals

  • Most snacks

Foods high in saturated fats

  • Red meats

  • Chicken skin

  • Whole-fat dairy products

  • Butter

  • Ice cream

Foods with trans fats

  • Baked goods

  • Shortening

  • Frozen pizza

  • Fried foods

  • Margarine

Vegetable oils

  • Corn oil

  • Sunflower oil

  • Safflower oil

  • Soybean oil

Proper nutrition can really speed up the healing process. It is equally important to avoid pro-inflammatory foods as it is to add anti-inflammatory foods.

A few simple changes can go a long way.

Take care of your body and it will take care of you.

Corey Hall, PT, DPT

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