March 23, 2021

If COVID-19 Causes Inflammation, What Reduces It?

Janelle Ringer, Loma Linda University Health

Many people are looking for ways to protect themselves from COVID-19. In severe cases, the virus causes hyperinflammation, which can make breathing more difficult, lead to lifelong lung problems, and even be fatal.

Brenda Rea, a lifestyle and preventive medicine physician at Loma Linda University Health, says diet plays a significant role in promoting or reducing stress at the cellular level. “Certain foods can create an inflammatory response in the body, while others reduce inflammation and enhance health,” she says.

Rea recommends avoiding foods that trigger inflammation — such as high-sugar foods and drinks, refined carbohydrates, or red meat — and focus instead on adding some of these anti-inflammatory foods to your diet.


Spinach is a powerhouse of nutrients, loaded with vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin E, carotenoids, fiber, and other phytochemicals. The anti-inflammatory superfood is best when eaten raw, juiced, or lightly cooked. Natural antioxidants in spinach — and many other leafy green vegetables — have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body.


Blueberries, boysenberries, cranberries, pomegranates, cherries, raspberries, and other berries provide a sweet taste without adding too much sugar to a diet. Sugar is known to promote inflammation, which can make the body more susceptible to illness and disease. Many berries contain a blue-purple pigment called anthocyanins, which reduces existing inflammation as well. Blueberries also have a potent antioxidant called pterostilbene, which reduces inflammation.

Nuts and Seeds

Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and many other nuts and seeds reduce inflammation and supply healthy fats to the body. Raw nuts without added oil or salt are best. Seeds, such as chia and flaxseed, are proven inflammation fighters and can be easily added to many foods to add an anti-inflammatory boost.


Turmeric contains polyphenol curcumin, which has powerful anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties. The golden-yellow-colored seasoning has been shown to reduce tumor reproduction and induce tumor cell death.


Avocados are filled with antioxidants that reduce the body’s inflammatory response and have also been shown to reduce inflammation in young skin cells. Avocados in their whole, unprocessed state are more likely to be anti-inflammatory, and they can alleviate pain and illness caused by inflammation.

Many diets claim to reduce inflammation in the body and enhance general health, but they can be restrictive or confusing. Slowly introducing anti-inflammatory foods can be easy and make a significant difference in a person’s health — especially amid COVID-19.

This feature is shared for informational purposes only. It is not meant to replace sound medical advice. Please consult your physician before implementing this or any other nutritional advice.

The original version of this story was posted on the Loma Linda University Health news site.