Better Health – Reducing Inflammation with Food

Written By Nurse Mary  |  Health News, Media 

Inflammation is an immune response within your body that aims to reduce things like toxins, infections and injuries to begin to heal itself. It’s basically your body’s defense system. Did you know it is possible for certain foods or ingredients to trigger inflammation? It can lead to pain and other unwanted symptoms as well as be an underlying condition which can be linked to certain diseases.

Inflammation – How can it affect you?

Irritated joints, irritation in the digestive tract, high blood pressure and allergies can be a sign of inflammation.

Autoimmune disorders can crop up from unmanaged inflammation.

Inflammation culprits can be many and it may depend on who you are. Things that irritate me could be different from what irritates you, and vice versa.

Inflammation doesn’t only affect joints. You may not have known that irritation of the digestive tract often follows that of the joints. 

Take a guess at what the # 1 inflammatory food is? You guessed it. Sugar.

Sugar the #1 Inflammatory food
Sugar is found in some surprising places

Did you know that sugar is more addictive than cocaine in rat studies?

This is a shocking observation, but the reality is that it’s everywhere and extremely hard to avoid. It’s in foods now that it wasn’t in years past.

Besides sugar, there are many foods we eat that the body processes just like sugar. 

White flour products such as donuts, cakes, white bread & desserts are all broken down and used by the body in a very similar way.

When is sugar the most dangerous?

Sugar by itself can pose threats to our health, however, these problems can be amplified significantly when this sugar is mixed with fat. For example Ice cream, donuts, and other sweet treats you’re surrounded by tend to raise your risk of inflammation, greatly.

Speaking from my own experience, I have a friend that brought his blood pressure down simply by removing ice cream and most deserts from his diet.

It wasn’t enough to get off his blood pressure medication, however, it was enough to keep his blood pressure from creeping up.

Another cause of inflammation is food additives. Dies, preservatives and chemicals

Do you know what the second most inflammatory food is?

Surprisingly, one of the things that cause inflammation isn’t actually food itself, it’s the additives that are often found in the foods we buy.

Things like dies, preservatives and other chemicals cause a lot of inflammation in our bodies because they are foreign objects our body doesn’t know what to do with.

So what are the best foods for us to eat?

Eat foods the way they come from the earth. Fresh fruits and vegetables

Yes, you guessed it, foods straight from the earth. 

Eat more foods the way God made them like our parents and grandparents used to eat 

– Foods procured by the sweat of our brow.

Sometimes we develop bad habits of eating packaged foods because it tells us grams of carbs, protein, fat, fiber, etc., but look at all the stuff we can’t pronounce…

I get it, I do it myself! Don’t get me wrong, I want you to become a label reader. Often, it is a safer choice to put it back if it has more than 3 ingredients or things you can’t pronounce.

Some fruits have an over-abundance of natural sugar in them, which can be concerning. However, vegetables have a natural balance of carbs, fiber, protein and calories. Therefore you don’t have to worry about the caloric amount of vegetables. 

Berries have fiber that lowers the absorb-able natural sugar.

If you have trouble with raw vegetables, steam them. This allows you to keep some of the nutrition without cooking everything away like is done with boiling.

What is an Anti-inflammatory Diet?

When we think about anti-inflammatory foods we have to think about 2 aspects of an anti-inflammatory diet. Foods we can eat and the foods we need to avoid. Some foods irritate the digestive system and ultimately the joints and some foods calm the digestive system causing less body system irritations. We will look at several of these pieces.

The other piece of this is that it will look different for you than it will for me and different for me than someone else you know.  There may be some family similarities but not always.  

Try a 30 day Whole food re-set

One thing to you might consider if you are really ready to figure out what foods are bothering you the most is to try a 30-day whole food re-set. I have done one and it is really eye-opening. I am not the best guide on one of these so I will refer you to a book if you are interested in doing that. Whole: The 30 Day Whole Foods Challenge

What I will do for you, though, is help you with some basics. There are actually groups of inflammatory foods. So you may be sensitive to one but not the other. That is why eating a clean diet for 3 weeks to 30 days is so helpful when beginning this journey.

Sugar – The Most Inflammatory Food!

Sugar is probably the most inflammatory of all the foods. We have a list of sugars and hidden names for sugars. Most sweeteners are really not safe either because they are, themselves, highly processed foods. The only sweeteners that I trust are Stevia and Monk Fruit sweetener. There are also some good stevia choices now that don’t leave a bitter after taste. Let me know if that is something you are interested in.

61 Hidden Names for sugar

Here is a handy list: 61 Hidden Names for Sugar

The Nightshade Family of Plants are Very Inflammatory to some

Tomatoes, Potatoes & Peppers are in the nightshade family.

Some people are very sensitive to the Nightshade family of foods and it will trigger aggravated arthritis overnight. Some people it doesn’t bother.

These foods include:

  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Peppers
  • Egg Plant

Then there are some herbs and spices which fall into this category that you might not normally think about. I sure didn’t.

Paprika, Goji Berries, Tobacco & Cayenne Pepper are also in the Nightshade family
  • Paprika
  • Goji Berries
  • Tobacco
  • Cayenne pepper.

Again not everyone is sensitive to these but many people are. It may not mean you have to quit them forever but get your body clean of them and then just partake of them on occasion.

Processed Milk Products are an Inflammatory Food

If processed milk products such as Pasteurized & Homogenized milk is something that bothers your stomach it probably ultimately will also bother your joints. Milk, cheese, butter, Sometimes yogurt (Yogurt often has added sugar in it). The softer cheeses are more inflammatory than harder cheeses. Watch labels carefully. One of the worst hidden milk products is whey or whey solids – Whey is one of the quickest ways to tear up your stomach.  Casein and lactose are a couple of other milk products you might see on labels. In my experience, whey is one of the worst if you are sensitive to milk products. It is hidden in a lot of “health foods” because it is a cheap protein source. 

Milk, Cheese and Yogurt can be Inflammatory foods

If you are getting fresh milk from the farm you may be ok because it has microbes in it which help break down milk once ingested. Most people can tolerate purified butter called Ghee and goat milk without problems.

Red Meats may Aggravate because of Uric Acid

Red Meats can elevate Uric Acid

Red Meat is an aggravator that some people have issues with. The issue with red meat is mostly because it can cause an accumulation of – uric acid. Uric Acid can cause joint pains that start in peripheral joints like the thumbs joints and big toe joints.

Processed Meats and Nitrate Content

Processed Meats can irritate because of the Nitrates that are added to preserve and flavor them. It is also not uncommon to see soy isolates like MSG in processed meats, as well. There are a few sources of processed meats that are safe but it requires reading labels carefully. Many of these add different ingredients instead of Nitrates since they have the same effect and are safer to consume.

These safer options of processed meats which are Nitrate Free use Celery Seed.

Soy is a Highly Inflammatory Food Because it can Interfere with Hormones in the Body

Soy interferes with the hormones in the body

Soy is a biggy for many people. What is confusing about Soy is that in its fermented state it is actually good for you.  Unfermented Soy affects us by interfering with the hormone balance. The body often sees Soy as Estrogen, a female hormone. In men, it causes issues in many areas, too. In women, it throws the balance of Estrogen to Progesterone so far out of balance that it aggravates a myriad of health problems one of them being that it makes you high risk for developing breast cancer.   Soy appears in foods as over 100 different names. 

Wheat, Grains & Gluten Aggravate Inflammation in 2 Ways

We hear a lot about wheat, grains & gluten these days and what is the deal?

1. Grains like refined flour hit the body just like sugar

Well, anything made with refined flour hits the body just like sugar so it causes insulin spikes, overproduction of cortisol. Issues with the liver and the result is inflammation and weight gain. 

Grains in the whole grain state are a less harmful because they have some fiber and protein in them to slow down the insulin reaction.   

2. Gluten Sensitivity Bothers the Digestive System

Then the other piece of grain issues is that some people are just sensitive to Gluten. For those that are sensitive to Gluten it immediately tears up their stomach and then follows the joint pain. I learned from Evelyn that anything which messes with your stomach eventually bothers your joints. As I have done my own research, it reinforces this to be so true!   Additionally, so many of our grains these days are tainted with the weed killer Round-up that I feel some of the sensitivities come from that.

Processed Foods With Preservatives Can cause Inflammation

Processed foods have multiple chemicals in them to give them a longer shelf life. That doesn’t actually translate over to a longer life for you!

Any time you can eat real, whole foods it is going to be your best bet.

Read labels carefully and often. If there is something in a particular food you can’t pronounce, chances are you don’t want to eat it. When choosing processed foods, items with fewer ingredients are always the best. If there are more than 3 ingredients think twice as to whether you “need” it.

All the chemicals in foods these days are to make the food look nice, tease the taste buds or plain and simply because they are cheap. It doesn’t mean your body knows what to do with them.

So, once these get into your system, your body doesn’t like the foreign substances and rebels with inflammation.  

What is Gut Permeability and How does it affect you?

Some things are supposed to be in the gut, other things are not. Irritating foods actually break down the lining of the stomach or areas of the intestines. The foods that will irritate your body may be different for me than from you.

Why do these foods cause so much inflammation for some and not for others?

It is because of “Gut permeability” You may have heard Dr. Axe talk about “Leaky Gut” or someone else talk about broken down gut permeability but what does it all mean? It means the barrier between your digestive system and bloodstream is not as affective as it should be. The particles you have an issue with, which should stay in the digestive tract, now are on the loose in your body. After a while the body reacts with inflammation. 

Why is it sometimes inflammatory foods don’t bother me?

Inflammatory Foods Affect Gut Permeability.

Sometimes you will eat a food and it doesn’t bother you and then sometimes it will. It depends on the health and number of the digestive enzymes at that time and if they are present in enough numbers to do the work they need to.

That is also why once you do a good job of “cleaning up your act” you can eat them, on occasion, without consequences. Even that is not the case for everyone – I have a friend that any time she eats sugar in the smallest amount she feels like she is starting all over again. Some foods do cause that bad of a reaction – partly because some of us have a very delicate or narrow range of pH balance that our body works well in.

Joint Inflammation

I have another friend that is extremely sensitive to gluten in her foods but the reaction in her joints won’t show up for 24 hours after she has eaten it. By that time you could have forgotten what you had eaten!


Foods That Heal Inflammation

Now for the good news! What can you do to help your body that won’t make you feel completely miserable?   My very 1st suggestion is to go to the fresh vegetable section of your favorite grocery store and splurge a bit.

Add variety to your Food Choices – it really is the “spice of life”

The more color fruits & vegetables you have the more nutrition is present. Anything fruit or vegetable is a better choice than something processed. 

Choose Frozen Over Canned…

Another hack that I have been using and want to share with you is to hit the frozen vegetable section of the store. Most of the stuff now they quick blanch with steam and freeze right away allowing them to keep their nutrients without being leeched out in a big boiler.

The frozen vegetables have so much more color and flavor than canned vegetables and many times include WAY less or no sodium.

Healing Starts with Getting Back to Foods Raised Locally – Getting Close to the Soil

I like the idea of supporting local folks that are getting out and “doing” something. Working in the garden and the soil is part of healing the mind and body, too.

Growing a few vegetables yourself may be “just what the Dr. ordered.” It is fun to plant a tomato plant or some lettuce in a flower bed or somewhere and something many of us could stand to do more of.

Specific Foods that help the body the most

So, what foods specifically should we be eating if we need to follow an anti-inflammatory diet? 

  • Vegetables – lots of green and orange vegetables.
  • Water is very important.
  • When you eat fruits, eat it fresh with the skins and seeds like berries.
  • Eat foods the way they come from the earth. Wash them first, of course!

Balancing the pH with the combination of foods we eat is very important. Would you like more information or an article on foods and how to balance your pH?

Did you know that your pH being out of balance even just a little bit will cause a decrease in your ability to absorb nutrients from the supplements you take? 

Then, the last tip I want to share with you is keeping the calcium in your body mobilized. Do you ever have muscle twitches? That can be a sign the body is depositing Calcium where you don’t want it. There is a very simple solution for this. Simply take 1 tsp of Apple Cider Vinegar in a glass of water one to 2 times a day and they should go away.

Thank you for your kind attention. I look forward to coming alongside you in your quest for better health. 

Isn’t that what you want? Better health, to be able to continue to do the things you love to do longer?

Relieve inflammation so you can do more of the things you love to do.

You Can! Never give up on that dream. We want to come alongside you and help you on that quest. I’m Mary Howard RN. Until next time be well!

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