Accumulating data indicates a link between a pro-inflammatory status and occurrence of chronic disease-related fatigue. The questions are whether the observed inflammatory profile can be (a) improved by anti-inflammatory diets, and (b) if this improvement can in turn be translated into a significant fatigue reduction. The aim of this narrative review was to investigate the effect of anti-inflammatory nutrients, foods, and diets on inflammatory markers and fatigue in various patient populations. Next to observational and epidemiological studies, a total of 21 human trials have been evaluated in this work. Current available research is indicative, rather than evident, regarding the effectiveness of individuals' use of single nutrients with anti-inflammatory and fatigue-reducing effects. In contrast, clinical studies demonstrate that a balanced diet with whole grains high in fibers, polyphenol-rich vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods might be able to improve disease-related fatigue symptoms. Nonetheless, further research is needed to clarify conflicting results in the literature and substantiate the promising results from human trials on fatigue.
Keywords: anti-inflammatory nutrition; cancer; chronic fatigue; cytokines; fatigue reduction diet; inflammation; myalgic encephalomyelitis; omega-3 fatty acids; polyphenols; probiotics.