Diets come and diets go, but inflammation lasts forever and at the end of the day there are some foods that cause inflammation no matter how trendy they are. The great news is that any diet or lifestyle change can be shifted so that it’s less inflammatory and even anti-inflammatory. For instance the paleo diet, which I love, can be done in a way that is highly inflammatory, or it can be done in a way that is highly anti-inflammatory so the most important thing is to educate yourself about inflammation and about ways to personalize your diet to your body. Also, in the never-ending quest to become more of a nutritarian (meaning to get more nutrient dense foods in my diet) this list is really helpful.
Some of the factors that can increase the inflammatory value of foods also have to be considered – like pesticides, herbicides or hormones in the food. For that reason I’m also giving you the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists compiled by Environmental Working Group. These are lists of the foods that concentrate pesticides within their flesh (and so should be bought organic whenever possible – this is the “Dirty Dozen” list) and the foods that hold on to the least pesticides and so can be purchased conventionally to save those organic dollars. Likewise products from animals that are conventionally raised using hormones and antibiotics are going to be significantly more inflammatory than products from animals who are raised organically, grass fed, or hunted. Therefore just choosing a better quality version of the same thing can help you to reduce inflammation.
Quick Food Guide: The Foods That Cause Inflammation
For a free .pdf download of the food list, click on: FoodChartNew
As you can see on the Quick Food Guide, some foods are also more likely to cause inflammation in your body just because of the nature of the food itself. In general there are many of these that you probably could have guessed – white flour, white sugar, white rice, artificial sweeteners. Also the things we know are not so good, like partially hydrogenated oils and trans-fats. The great news is that focusing on increasing your foods in the anti-inflammatory list will help tremendously on the
Making Paleo Diet More Anti-Inflammatory
Paleo diet can be really meat-heavy and that is great for some people, but not for people with inflammatory disorders to begin with. Granted it’s already cutting out a lot of the inflammatory foods like white sugar, corn syrup, white flour, white rice. That is awesome!! The issue comes when people just eat meat three meals per day and forget about the veggies or the meat quality. Here are some tips to optimize your Paleo diet so that you’re not boosting inflammation:
- Veggie-Bomb: Always get twice as many veggies as you get meat, and if you have an inflammatory condition like RA, autoimmune disease or cardiovascular disease then bump that up to 3 or 4 times the veggie to meat ratio.
- Eat Quality: Make sure your meats are organic, grass fed and grass finished (for beef), hormone-free and antibiotic free. Quality is so much better than quantity with animal products.
- Optimize the Organics: Check the “Dirty Dozen” list before you buy veggies to make sure you’re optimizing your organic food budget. It can get expensive, so getting it right really helps.
- Be Active: Diet is only half of the inflammation picture and exercise and activity will go a long way to normalize inflammatory levels.
- Hydrate: Drink plenty of water. Any protein-heavy diet puts some extra strain on your kidneys and if you’re a little dehydrated then this can start to impact how well you feel and your overall level of inflammation. At least eight 8oz glasses per day.
Why Is It Important to Reduce Inflammation?
Inflammation is linked to almost every major disease and disease category we have including:
- Cardiovascular disease including heart attack, cholesterol and stroke
- Autoimmune disease
- Chronic pain
- Mood disorders (brain inflammation)
- Alzheimer’s disease and other neuro-degenerative diseases
The bottom line is that real food, real veggies, and minimizing the chemicals is always going to be the best route to keeping your inflammation levels down. Knowing the foods that cause inflammation can help you to make better choices at the grocery store.