7 Foods that Calm Inflammation and Bring Back the Glow

Onion and Garlic

Redness. Acne. Wrinkles. Premature aging. Rosacea. Psoriasis. Eczema.

What do they all have in common?


It’s a natural immune response. When you cut yourself, immune cells go to work fixing the damage. Your skin swells up (inflames) and turns red. After a few days, it heals, and everything’s fine.

But sometimes that healing doesn’t take place. The inflammation continues, steadily, chronically.

This can happen inside your body, and has been linked in studies to heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. Chronic inflammation, doctors call it, and it can affect your skin, too.

Acne breakouts, dermatitis, eczema, rosacea, premature aging, and other skin conditions are all inflammatory in nature, and tend to get worse when we eat an inflammatory diet.

The solution? Eat foods that calm inflammation and you’re more likely to enjoy clear, youthful looking skin!

7 Foods that Help Calm Inflammation

  1. Walnuts: The key here is healthy essential fatty acids. They’re good for the body and the skin. A 2004 study found that a diet high in walnuts helped lower C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a standard marker of inflammation associated with heart disease. Wild-caught salmon is another good source of these healthy fats, as are flaxseed, chia seeds, and anchovies.
  2. Broccoli: This is a superfood when it comes to reducing inflammation. A 2013 study found that people who ate broccoli for just 10 days cut their inflammation levels in half! A 2014 study also found that women who ate the most cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cauliflower) had substantially less inflammation than those who ate the fewest. Broccoli has also been found to help repair DNA damage. Broccoli sprouts have similar benefits and work great on salads.
  3. Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut: The key here is probiotics. You can get them from any type of fermented food, including those listed here as well as pickles, miso, kombucha tea, fermented cheese, and more. These are stars when it comes to reducing inflammation. A 2009 study, for example, found that probiotic supplementation actually helped reduce the risk and severity of dermatitis. An earlier study also found that probiotics helped reduce inflammation in the intestine.
  4. Hempseed oil: We’re talking about healing fatty acids again, here, so you can add avocado oil, coconut oil, and olive oil to this list. They all help tame inflammation, and they’re great for applying topically to skin, as well! A 2010 study found that hempseed had an excellent content of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and helped tame inflammation and reduce risk of heart disease.
  5. Tart cherries: Tart cherry juice is often recommended as a post-workout drink because of its ability to calm inflammation and reduce muscle pain. A 2012 study found that tart cherries helped reduce chronic inflammation, especially for those experiencing joint pain and arthritis. In that study, the researchers noted that tart cherries have the “highest anti-inflammatory content of any food.”
  6. Onions and garlic: Add these to your meals to enjoy the anti-inflammatory power. A 2011 study found that both not only reduced inflammation in the blood vessels (linked with reducing heart disease), but also reduced oxidative stress. Both of these have also shown anti-inflammatory effects against arthritis. Similar foods include leeks, shallots, chives, and scallions.
  7. Turmeric: If you’re going to use a spice, use curry! Turmeric is a key ingredients, and it contains a compound called “curcumin” that provides a number of health benefits. Preliminary trials have found that it has anti-inflammatory effects in humans, and it may also be protective against Alzheimer’s disease and digestive health. I’ve added turmeric in my exclusive Tri-Rescue Complex to tame inflammation and encourage healing for the skin!

Do you notice an improvement in your skin when you eat these foods? Please share your thoughts.


“ALA-rich walnuts reduce inflammation, shows small study,” Nutraingredients.com, November 9, 2004, http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/ALA-rich-walnuts-reduce-inflammation-shows-small-study.

Case Adams, “Broccoli Reduces Inflammation, Repair DNA, Possibly Helps Osteoarthritis,” R.E.A.L. Natural, http://www.realnatural.org/broccoli-reduces-inflammation-repairs-dna-possibly-helps-osteoarthritis/.

Shereen Jegtvig, “Eating cruciferous vegetables may lower inflammation,” Reuters, March 28, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/28/us-cruciferous-vegetables-idUSBREA2R18D20140328.

Lomax AR, Calder PC, “Probiotics, immune function, infection and inflammation: a review of the evidence from studies conducted in humans,” Curr Pharm Des, 2009; 15(13):1428-518, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19442167.

Marie-Anne von Schillde, et al., “Lactocepin Secreted by Lactobacillus Exerts Anti-Inflammatory Effects by Selectively Degrading Proinflammatory Chemokines,” Cell, April 19, 2012; 11(4):387-396, http://www.cell.com/cell-host-microbe/abstract/S1931-3128(12)00066-2.

Delfin Rodriguez-Leyva and Grant N. Pierce, “The cardiac and haemostatic effects of dietary hempseed,” Nutrition & Metabolism, 2010; 7(32): 10.1186/1743-7075-7-32, http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/7/1/32.

Weber Shandwick Worldwide, “Researchers say tart cherries have ‘the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food,’” [Press Release] May 30, 2012, http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-05/wsw-rst052912.php.

Marcela Alejandra Vasquez-Prieto, et al., “Garlic and Onion Attenuates Vascular Inflammation and Oxidative Stress in Fructose-Fed Rats,” Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2011, http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jnme/2011/475216/.

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  • Amruta

    Great, timely article! I’ve recently stopped taking hormonal birth control and my skin is starting to act up. I will definitely try some of these tips.

  • JP

    Can you also advise what food to avoid that may cause inflammation? I’m having eczema break outs and trying to find out what I need to eliminate from my diet? Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Hi JP – gluten, dairy, sugar and alcohol are often the culprits with inflammation, so start by eliminating those. You may want to follow our Cleanse diet for a few weeks to calm the inflammation. Gut healing nutrients such as L-Gluatamine are helpful as is bone broth: http://www.drfranklipman.com/5-reasons-to-add-bone-broth-to-your-diet/
    best of luck to you. – Be Well coach, Laura

  • Inde

    There is so much talk about BONE BROTH and how good it is for us.
    Can you tell us also if it can be made from, lets say, chicken bones, etc?
    (I save all the bones from organic chicken that we’ve eaten, actually freeze them and when I have enough make a BROTH. Is this ok? And does it contain the
    L’Gluatamine that was mentioned?)

  • Anonymous

    Yes, chicken bones make a great broth. Read my blog post and recipe here: http://www.drfranklipman.com/5-reasons-to-add-bone-broth-to-your-diet/