Skip to main content

Inflammation in the Body and Joint Health

Inflammation in the Body and Joint Health

When you cut your finger, your body has a sophisticated repair mechanism that allows the area to quickly heal.

During this process, the area impacted releases chemicals, which alert the immune system to kick into action. Blood flow increases in that area. As a result, you may experience redness, warmth, swelling, and pain. 

The immune system activates inflammatory cells, which initiate the healing process. That reaction, called acute inflammation, occurs within minutes or hours. The rapid response protects your body against further damage. The process can even be life-saving: In this case, keeping you from bleeding to death.  [1] 

Acute inflammation initiates the healing response. That inflammation response should do its job and simmer down. 

When it doesn’t – when the immune system stays activated and inflammation sticks around when the body no longer needs it –  another type of inflammation can result, called chronic inflammation. 

What is Inflammation?

Acute inflammation acts quickly to repair the damage inflicted on your body. The ultimate goal of that response is to act quickly and then calm down. 

Chronic inflammation lasts much, much longer. This slow, long-term inflammation can fester for months or even years. [2]

Because this type of inflammation sometimes doesn’t always carry symptoms, you may not even know that you have it. That’s why Time Magazine called chronic inflammation “The Silent Killer.” [3]

The number of diseases connected with chronic inflammation collectively represents the leading causes of disability and mortality worldwide. In fact, chronic inflammatory diseases are the most significant cause of death in the world. (2)

Chronic inflammation can lead to other problems, such as oxidative stress. A small number of free radicals can benefit the body, which has a powerful antioxidant defense system to keep them in balance.

When those free radicals overwhelm the body, however, a condition called oxidative stress can result. Similar to chronic inflammation, oxidative stress is a factor in numerous diseases. [4]

A vicious cycle eventually occurs: Chronic inflammation can contribute to oxidative stress, which may exacerbate chronic inflammation. [5]

Joint Inflammation: Causes and Symptoms

Inflammation can occur in any organ, including the stomach, liver, bladder, skin, brain, and lungs.

One of the most common types of inflammation is joint inflammation, which often involves swelling that can be painful or debilitating. Heat, pain, redness, and loss of function may also accompany joint inflammation.

While acute inflammation can support the healing process, chronic inflammation has the opposite effect: It eventually damages the joint. Eventually, joint inflammation can impact other organs and become systemic. [6]

Injuries can lead to joint inflammation. So can arthritis. Inflammatory arthritis includes a group of arthritis including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis usually begins in an isolated joint. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disease where the immune system mistakenly attacks specific tissues. (In this case, joints.) Both types of arthritis involve some degree of inflammation. [7]

Over time, chronic inflammation can create swelling and wear down cartilage. Eventually, that damage can extend beyond your joints. Joint pain can go on to trigger skin rashes, eye inflammation, hair loss, dry mouth, and fever. [8]

Joint pain is very common. About one in four adults with arthritis have severe joint pain related to arthritis. Nearly half of adults with arthritis have persistent pain. [9]

The good news is that you have plenty of strategies to reduce the chronic inflammation that, left unchecked, can create widespread damage.

How to Reduce Inflammation: Start with What You Eat

Left unchecked, the inflammation that begins in one area can spread and lead to cardiovascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, as well as autoimmune and neurodegenerative disorders. [10] 

Many factors contribute to chronic inflammation, including:

  • Age
  • Chronic infections
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Dysbiosis or gut imbalances
  • Stress
  • Poor sleep
  • Environmental pollutants
  • Tobacco smoking (10)

While you can’t control your age, many other factors are entirely within your control.

Your primary strategy to manage chronic inflammation starts at the end of your fork.

Just as important as what you eat is what you don’t eat. Diets that promote inflammation are high in refined starches, sugar, and unhealthy fats. They tend to be low in omega-3 fatty acids as well as natural antioxidants and fiber from plant foods such as fruits and vegetables. [11]

Sometimes overlooked are potential food intolerances, which can create gut inflammation that eventually extends throughout the body.

Common food intolerances include dairy, gluten, and soy. One study found that a gluten-containing diet may increase inflammation, whereas a gluten-free diet reduced inflammation. [12] 

An anti-inflammatory diet focuses on eating whole foods that are rich in healthy fats and phytonutrients, which help maintain steady blood sugar levels. [13]

Foods that reduce inflammation include: 

  1. Wild-caught seafood. The omega-3 fatty acids in wild-caught seafood and fish oil – eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – may inhibit many aspects of inflammation, including the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. [14]
  2. Green tea. The major compound in green tea, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), provides powerful anti-inflammatory effects. [15] Enjoy green tea iced or hot, sweetened with stevia if you like.
  3. Herbs and spices. Spicing up your food can provide an extra anti-inflammatory punch! Good choices include ginger, cinnamon, garlic, cayenne, and turmeric. Curcumin, the active ingredient in this pungent spice, provides powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. [16]
  4. Nuts and seeds. Raw nuts make a delicious snack that can also lower inflammation. Walnuts pack a powerful anti-inflammatory punch, thanks to compounds called ellagitannins. [17] Flaxseed and chia seeds are excellent sources of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). [18]
  5. Vegetables. Research shows that spinach, Brussels sprouts, and other cruciferous vegetables have anti-inflammatory benefits. [19] Likewise, leafy greens like kale and spinach can lower inflammation. [20]
  6. Fruit. Berries are especially rich in flavonoids and antioxidants, which can improve markers of inflammation and oxidative stress. [21]

Anthocyanins: A Promising Way to Manage Inflammation

The anti-inflammatory and many other benefits of fruits and vegetables come from anthocyanins, which belong to the family of compounds called flavonoids.

The antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and other benefits of anthocyanins can benefit many diseases and conditions. [22] Major sources of anthocyanins include blueberries, tart cherries, raspberries, strawberries, black currants, purple grapes.

Any food plan that focuses on anti-inflammatory foods should include these foods. An anthocyanin-rich supplement can complement those foods to provide optimal anti-inflammatory support.

A wide scope of research shows that tart cherry can provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory polyphenol compounds including anthocyanins, which help the body manage inflammation levels. [23] In our next blog, we’ll discuss in more depth how tart cherry supplements can benefit chronic inflammation, joint pain, and many other conditions.


[1] Stone WL, Basit H, Burns B. Pathology, Inflammation. [Updated 2020 Dec 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from:

[2] Pahwa R, Goyal A, Bansal P, et al. Chronic Inflammation. [Updated 2020 Nov 20]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from:


[4] Pizzino G, Irrera N, Cucinotta M, Pallio G, Mannino F, Arcoraci V, Squadrito F, Altavilla D, Bitto A. Oxidative Stress: Harms and Benefits for Human Health. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:8416763. doi: 10.1155/2017/8416763. Epub 2017 Jul 27. PMID: 28819546; PMCID: PMC5551541.

[5] Hussain T, Tan B, Yin Y, Blachier F, Tossou MC, Rahu N. Oxidative Stress and Inflammation: What Polyphenols Can Do for Us? Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2016;2016:7432797. doi: 10.1155/2016/7432797. Epub 2016 Sep 22. PMID: 27738491; PMCID: PMC5055983.

[6] [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:

[7] Mohammed A, Alshamarri T, Adeyeye T, Lazariu V, McNutt LA, Carpenter DO. A comparison of risk factors for osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis using NHANES data. Prev Med Rep. 2020 Nov 5;20:101242. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2020.101242. PMID: 33294313; PMCID: PMC7689317.

[8] Poudel P, Goyal A, Bansal P, et al. Inflammatory Arthritis. [Updated 2020 Jul 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from:


[10] Furman D, Campisi J, Verdin E, Carrera-Bastos P, Targ S, Franceschi C, Ferrucci L, Gilroy DW, Fasano A, Miller GW, Miller AH, Mantovani A, Weyand CM, Barzilai N, Goronzy JJ, Rando TA, Effros RB, Lucia A, Kleinstreuer N, Slavich GM. Chronic inflammation in the etiology of disease across the life span. Nat Med. 2019 Dec;25(12):1822-1832. doi: 10.1038/s41591-019-0675-0. Epub 2019 Dec 5. PMID: 31806905; PMCID: PMC7147972.

[11] Kiecolt-Glaser JK. Stress, food, and inflammation: psychoneuroimmunology and nutrition at the cutting edge. Psychosom Med. 2010 May;72(4):365-9. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181dbf489. Epub 2010 Apr 21. PMID: 20410248; PMCID: PMC2868080.

[12] Antvorskov JC, Fundova P, Buschard K, Funda DP. Dietary gluten alters the balance of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines in T cells of BALB/c mice. Immunology. 2013 Jan;138(1):23-33. doi: 10.1111/imm.12007. PMID: 22913724; PMCID: PMC3533698.

[13] Ricker MA, Haas WC. Anti-Inflammatory Diet in Clinical Practice: A Review. Nutr Clin Pract. 2017 Jun;32(3):318-325. doi: 10.1177/0884533617700353. Epub 2017 Mar 28. PMID: 28350517.

[14] Calder PC. Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammatory processes: from molecules to man. Biochem Soc Trans. 2017 Oct 15;45(5):1105-1115. doi: 10.1042/BST20160474. Epub 2017 Sep 12. PMID: 28900017.

[15] Ohishi T, Goto S, Monira P, Isemura M, Nakamura Y. Anti-inflammatory Action of Green Tea. Antiinflamm Antiallergy Agents Med Chem. 2016;15(2):74-90. doi: 10.2174/1871523015666160915154443. PMID: 27634207.

[16] Hewlings SJ, Kalman DS. Curcumin: A Review of Its Effects on Human Health. Foods. 2017 Oct 22;6(10):92. doi: 10.3390/foods6100092. PMID: 29065496; PMCID: PMC5664031.

[17] Sánchez-González C, Ciudad CJ, Noé V, Izquierdo-Pulido M. Health benefits of walnut polyphenols: An exploration beyond their lipid profile. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017 Nov 2;57(16):3373-3383. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2015.1126218. PMID: 26713565.

[18] Kulczyński B, Kobus-Cisowska J, Taczanowski M, Kmiecik D, Gramza-Michałowska A. The Chemical Composition and Nutritional Value of Chia Seeds-Current State of Knowledge. Nutrients. 2019 May 31;11(6):1242. doi: 10.3390/nu11061242. PMID: 31159190; PMCID: PMC6627181.

[19] Jiang Y, Wu SH, Shu XO, Xiang YB, Ji BT, Milne GL, Cai Q, Zhang X, Gao YT, Zheng W, Yang G. Cruciferous vegetable intake is inversely correlated with circulating levels of proinflammatory markers in women. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014 May;114(5):700-8.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2013.12.019. Epub 2014 Mar 13. PMID: 24630682; PMCID: PMC4063312.

[20] Shahinozzaman M, Raychaudhuri S, Fan S, Obanda DN. Kale Attenuates Inflammation and Modulates Gut Microbial Composition and Function in C57BL/6J Mice with Diet-Induced Obesity. Microorganisms. 2021 Jan 24;9(2):238. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms9020238. PMID: 33498853; PMCID: PMC7911404.

[21] Holt EM, Steffen LM, Moran A, Basu S, Steinberger J, Ross JA, Hong CP, Sinaiko AR. Fruit and vegetable consumption and its relation to markers of inflammation and oxidative stress in adolescents. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Mar;109(3):414-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2008.11.036. PMID: 19248856; PMCID: PMC2676354.

[22] Speer H, D'Cunha NM, Alexopoulos NI, McKune AJ, Naumovski N. Anthocyanins and Human Health-A Focus on Oxidative Stress, Inflammation and Disease. Antioxidants (Basel). 2020 Apr 28;9(5):366. doi: 10.3390/antiox9050366. PMID: 32353990; PMCID: PMC7278778.

[23] Vitale KC, Hueglin S, Broad E. Tart Cherry Juice in Athletes: A Literature Review and Commentary. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2017 Jul/Aug;16(4):230-239. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0000000000000385. PMID: 28696985.

Continue reading

Joint Health Benefits of Tart Cherry, Collagen, Boswellia, and Terpenes

Joint Health Benefits of Tart Cherry, Collagen, Boswellia, and Terpenes

Benefits of Tart Cherry Supplements vs Tart Cherry Juice

Benefits of Tart Cherry Supplements vs Tart Cherry Juice

How to Improve Joint Health Naturally

How to Improve Joint Health Naturally

Your Cart

Your cart is currently empty.
Click here to continue shopping.