Anti-inflammatory diets have been one of the most recommended diets for patients suffering from conditions that cause high amounts of inflammation. Some of these include inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, psoriasis, and more. Another condition that causes high levels of inflammation is TMJ disorder. TMJ disorders can cause inflammation in the face, neck, back, and jaw joint. If anti-inflammatory diets help reduce inflammation, you might be wondering if this diet is also helpful for TMJ.

heart shaped bowl of healthy foods

What’s an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?

An anti-inflammatory diet is a diet designed to reduce inflammation in the body. It involves eating certain foods known to fight inflammation and avoiding foods that are known to increase inflammation. Although it’s called a diet, it’s more of a lifestyle change because once the diet ends, the body stops reaping the benefits.

Anti-inflammatory diets work best when they’re coupled with medications or therapy.

Some of the conditions that benefit most from anti-inflammatory diets include the following:

  • Asthma
  • Colitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Psoriasis
  • Metabolic syndrome including diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease

Research shows that inflammation plays a crucial role in each of the conditions listed above. By eating an anti-inflammatory diet, it can help improve the condition and overall health. Eating antioxidant-rich foods can also help reduce the risk of certain cancers.

How it Works

Does eating certain foods and avoiding certain foods really have an effect on your body? There are several different types of anti-inflammatory foods. These include antioxidants, Omega-3 fatty acids, polyphenols, and fiber.

Antioxidants serve the purpose of protecting the body from free radicals. Free radicals are unstable atoms that cause cell damage, disease, and inflammation. One type of antioxidant is a carotenoid. Carotenoids are found in carrots, tomatoes, and green vegetables and they attack inflammation. Another type is anthocyanin. Anthocyanins are found in berries and they prevent inflammation from forming.

Omega-3 fatty acids are also a type of anti-inflammatory food. Omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation in two ways. One, they stop inflammation from forming, and two, they reduce any existing inflammation in the body. You can find Omega-3 fatty acids in coldwater fish like sardines, salmon, and mackerel as well as nuts, plant oils, seeds, fortified foods like soy beverages, eggs, yogurt, and juices. You can also take dietary supplements if needed.

Another compound that contributes to an anti-inflammatory diet is polyphenols. Polyphenols are found in berries, herbs, spices, and dark chocolate and prevent inflammation.

Lastly, eating a good source of fiber can help lower inflammation. Fiber is in most fruits, vegetables, beans, and lentils.

The Link Between TMJ and Inflammation

TMJ is a result of a dysfunctional jaw joint. When the jaw joint isn’t functioning properly, the surrounding muscles become tight and strained while the joints become inflamed and damaged. Both problems can cause an immense amount of pain and inflammation. The inflammation can cause swelling, redness, heat, loss of function, and pain.

In some TMJ cases, the patient also has rheumatoid arthritis, which also increases inflammation.

Eating an anti-inflammatory diet can therefore help reduce inflammation caused by TMJ. Although this can help make your condition more manageable, it is not a cure. Your anti-inflammatory diet should be accompanied by a viable TMJ treatment plan from your Lee’s Summit dentist.

Foods That Contribute to Inflammation

To start an anti-inflammatory diet, you will want to avoid foods that contribute to inflammation. For instance, these include:

  • Dairy
  • Processed foods
  • Snacks like crackers and chips
  • Unhealthy oils
  • Excess alcohol
  • Processed meats
  • Fried Foods
  • Foods with added sugar or salt
  • Nightshade plants such as tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, and peppers – Nightshade plants have been known to cause flare-ups. Try to eliminate these from your diet for a few weeks to see if your symptoms improve.
  • Gluten – Pay attention to how you feel when you consume products that contain gluten. Gluten intolerance can cause inflammation, upset stomach, fatigue, skin reactions, anxiety and depression, brain fog, and more.
  • Carbohydrates – Although you shouldn’t get rid of carbohydrates in your diet, you should try to limit high amounts. Evidence suggests that eating a lower carbohydrate diet can help reduce inflammation.

Foods to Eat on an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

If you’re eating an anti-inflammatory diet, you will want to include as many of the following foods into your life as possible.

  • Avocados
  • Oily fish
  • Cherries
  • Apples
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Berries
  • Artichokes
  • Avocados
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Whole Grains (if not gluten intolerant)
  • Eggs
  • Green tea
  • Broccoli
  • Dark leafy vegetables

The Best Way to Manage Your TMJ: TMJ Treatment in Lee’s Summit

If your solution to relieving TMJ pain is to wait for your anti-inflammatory diet to take effect, you’re likely going to wait for a very long time. After staying consistent with the diet, you may notice some improvements in pain levels after a few weeks, however, the only long-term solution is to get TMJ treatment in Lee’s Summit.

At Center for TMJ & Sleep Apnea, our dentists will complete a series of tests using our advanced dental technology to diagnose TMJ. Then, using the data, they will create a treatment plan that may involve a combination of Ozone therapy, head neck and facial pain photo biostimulation therapy, ALF appliances, Rezzimax laser therapy, cold laser, orthodontics, and reconstructive dentistry. TMJ treatment is the only way you will experience long-term relief. No anti-inflammatory diet will help you achieve these results.

If you’re interested in learning more about our effective TMJ treatment options, please call us at (816) 795-1000 to book an appointment today.