Move over, Mediterranean diet: the Tanzanian diet can battle inflammation

Traditional diets based on whole grains, vegetables and lean meats fight inflammation caused by processed food

Tanzanian food can beat inflammation
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Mediterranean diet plan is a great diet for those looking to reduce harmful inflammation in the body. Acute inflammation, such as the swelling caused by an injury or infection, is a natural part of the body's defences. However, chronic inflammation can lead to lots of different kinds of problems in the body, up to and including inflammatory bowel disease and even cancer.

The key ingredients in the Med diet that stave off chronic inflammation include whole grains, ingredients high in fibre, vegetables, olive oil and lots of fish. A surprising amount of these ingredients are shared with traditional African cuisine, in particular Tanzanian dishes. 

Tanzania diet plan

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A study published by researchers at the Radboud University Medical Center looked at the difference in Tanzanian lifestyles: in the cities, people eat a more western style diet, while in rural areas a traditional diet is more common. This means less processed foods and more whole grains, vegetables and meats including wali wa nazi, or rice cooked in coconut milk, and plantains, or cooking bananas.

Quirijn de Mast, internist-infectious diseases specialist at Radboud university medical center, said: "We showed that a traditional Tanzanian diet has a beneficial effect on inflammation and the functioning of the immune system. This is important because rapid urbanization is ongoing, not only in Tanzania, but also in other parts of Africa.

"The migration from the countryside to the city is leading to dietary changes and is accompanied by a rapid increase in the number of lifestyle diseases, which puts a heavy burden on the local healthcare systems. That is why prevention is essential, and diet can be very important for this."

Even if you don't go all-in on traditional Tanzanian food, replacing processed food such as pizza, sausages, fries and other foods with meals based on whole grains, vegetables and unprocessed cuts of meat. 

Cooking your ingredients in a healthy way is also very important: instead of pan-frying them in loads of oil, opt for one of our best air fryers, which uses a very small amount of added fats, or our best grill.

If you're struggling to get enough goodness into your diet due to a busy lifestyle, you could even use the best blenders to whip up those vegetables into a healthy green juice.

Matt Evans
Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. 

Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.