Professor of the Practice of Law University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Diet & Reducing Inflammation

The gut microbiome influences inflammation in our digestive and immune systems.  Inflammation plays a role in heart disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease.  Excess inflammation kills brain cells, weakens brain circuits, prevents the birth of new brain cells, and causes cognitive decline, anxiety, and depression.

Researchers investigated whether it is possible to cultivate an anti-inflammatory gut ecosystem.  The study examined the relationship between diet, gut bacteria, and inflammatory conditions.  Of the 1,425 participants, 554 had intestinal disease (irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis) and 871 had normal gut health.  Some bacteria promote inflammation, and foods associated with these bacteria include sugar, animal products, processed foods, and alcohol.  Bacteria that reduce inflammation and promote healthy cells in the gut lining include fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans, yogurt, and oily fish. 

A healthy gut also helps fight infection and reduce the risk of preventable diseases.  Fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains support a healthy immune system.

Takeaway: To reduce inflammation, increase plant-based foods and decrease sugar, alcohol, processed food, and animal products.


Laura A. Bolte et al., Long-term Dietary Patterns are Associated with Pro-Inflammatory and Anti-Inflammatory Features of the Gut Microbiome, Gut,Apr 2, 2021,

Emily Laurence, This is What to Know about Staying Mentally Sharp, According to a Psychiatrist and a Neurologist, Well + Good,

Debra S. Austin, Food for Thought: The Neuroscience of Nutrition to Fuel Cognitive Performance, 95 Or. L. Rev. 425, 457-458 (2017), online at

Bonnie Taub-Dix, 6 Habits to Borrow from People who Live the Longest, Today, Apr 30, 2021,

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