Foods Containing TNF-Alpha Inhibitors

Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) is also known as cachexin or cachectin. It is a cytokine, one of the proteins that the immune system uses to fight infection. It causes an inflammatory response, which is used against contaminants in cuts and wounds as well as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. The TNF-alpha’s job is to bind to cells that need to be destroyed or used as a factory to build other attacking molecules. However, when it gets out of balance, it can call for healthy cells to be destroyed, which is a leading cause of chronic inflammation. It could also mean the person has cancer, though that is not the only factor that can cause an imbalance. However, many cancers are known to increase production of TNF.

Decreasing TNF-alpha naturally can aid in regaining balance without the side effects that commonly accompany TNF inhibitor drugs. There are a variety of foods that contain the natural inhibitors that can assist in lowering this compound.


This small evergreen shrub is native to India, Africa, and the Middle East. The berry and root are used for treating stress and reducing inflammation. Because of this, it reduces the output of TNF-alpha.


CoQ10 is an antioxidant that aids in cell growth. Studies have determined that it also reduces levels of TNF.

Curcumin (Turmeric)

This bright yellow compound is what gives turmeric its iconic color. It is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant which aids in reducing production of TNF. Studies have shown that it is more effective in this than many pharmaceuticals, and it has almost no negative side effects.

Grapes (Resveratrol)

Resveratrol is the antioxidant compound in grapes. It has been found to limit production of both nitric oxide and TNF-alpha, as well as CoX-2. This helps to reduce the likelihood of cancer returning, as well as inhibiting growth of cancers. Organic grape juice also contains this compound.

Green Tea (EGCG)

A catechin named epigallocatechin-3-O-gallate (EGCG) is present in green tea. It has been found to naturally block TNF by keeping some chemicals that cause inflammation from being able to bind to cells in the vascular system. It does this by suppressing fractalkine, which is specifically known to cause inflammation that aids in developing arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

Lectin-Avoidance Diet

It is a fairly simple diet to follow: eat seafood and meat, eggs, fruits and vegetables. Avoid grains, beans, nuts and seeds, dairy, and most potatoes. This type of diet has been found to reduce TNF-alpha and reduce or remove autoimmune symptoms.


Low magnesium levels can result in higher TNF levels. Most Americans tend to have low magnesium levels, so adding foods rich in magnesium or adding a supplement may be helpful for decreasing TNF levels.

Milk Thistle

Sometimes used to treat and prevent liver disease, milk thistle contains silymarin which has been shown to be antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. These also tend to block TNF activation.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Relaxing intentionally can have a surprisingly positive effect on TNF-alpha levels. Originally developed for psychological treatment, progressive muscle relaxation has been found to help general health.

Raw Fruits and Vegetables

Eating fruits and vegetables that are naturally high in antioxidants has been proven to have an anti-inflammatory effect. Dark-colored vegetables are especially good sources of a chemical that blocks cancer cell growth while improving DNA repair.

Tart Cherry Juice

Tart cherry juice, without added sugar, controls inflammation extremely well. This also reduces TNF levels dramatically. Many people who do strenuous exercise or sports have found that drinking this helps to reduce muscle soreness after exercising.


Tomatoes and other nightshade plants are known to prevent TNF-alpha production when eaten in moderate amounts consistently.

Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)

The alpha tocopherol in vitamin E has been proven to prevent LDL oxidation and limit TNF release.

What About Bananas?

Some rumors have spread that when one eats over ripe bananas, cancer is less likely. This, however, is not valid information. It is based on an obscure study in which researchers injected banana puree into rats’ abdomens and saw an increase in TNF. As was mentioned at the top of the page, TNF is often an indicator of cancer, not a remedy for it. Additionally, eating the bananas (as opposed to injecting them) would have no effect whatsoever on TNF levels in the body.