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  • Writer's pictureFeather & Leaf Acupuncture

Inflammatory Foods to Reduce or Eliminate

Chronic inflammation has become such a common issue among many. Inflammation is actually a body's response to repair itself. However, when this becomes an ongoing issue, it can cause some damage to the tissues, joints, and organs. I see a number of issues arise from chronic inflammation such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, kidney issues, autoimmune disorders, Alzheimer's, cancer...the list goes on.

Diet and nutrition play such a crucial role in our health that research has proven digestion and gut health are the cornerstone of where our health is really determined. This is the area where vital nutrients are absorbed, directed to their designated area, and utilized. There is a known gut-brain communication, meaning depending on what we are feeding our gut, tends to determine how well the brain will function. So if we aren't giving the right nutrients needed, the brain won't be able to fully communicate with the rest of the body at its best ability. Instead, systems begin to misfire and send out signals that are out of balance causing the entire body to get a little wonky.

Poor diet choices and poor gut health is the perfect grounds for chronic inflammation. Once this starts, we can feel low energy, less focus, sleep disturbances, low blood sugar, increased eating or no eating period, pain, swollen joints, stiffness, sluggish digestion, anxiety, depression, irritability, and fatigue, among other issues that begin to develop over time with chronic inflammation.

In treating chronic inflammation, we have to go to the source directly which can be the food we consume. There are a few common foods that are known to be highly inflammatory and should be limited or eliminated to reduce the amount of irritation it may be causing. Reducing these and other inflammatory triggers helps the body to recover by giving the gut a chance to heal.


This is a common one I immediately have my patients cut out. Many individuals don't tolerate lactose. The casein, whey, and saturated fat contained in dairy and dairy products cause an inflammatory reaction that can slow or disrupt digestion, create gas, bloating, acne, joint pain and/or swelling.


This is another inflammatory food item I tend to have patients reduce or eliminate all together for some time. Celiac disease is increasing with more than 200,000 cases each year in the United States. This is due to an immune reaction that cause inflammation in the small intestine. However, there are several others who are gluten intolerant and may not present with the same symptoms as those who have Celiac disease. Some symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, eczema, itching, and smelling stool.

Processed Sugar

Sugar awareness has been on the rise for years. Processed sugar causes inflammation and a spike in blood sugar which affects insulin production. This can create insulin resistance over time which can cause inflammation in the gut, throughout the body, and the brain leading diabetes, Alzhiemer's disease, and cardiovascular issues.

Processed Meat

These meats (salami, pepperoni, bacon, deli meats, sausage) can cause inflammation due to the way they are chemically processed and preserved. The chemicals used during the processing releases chemicals, which can cause advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These are compounds that occur due to age and when food is cooked are higher temperatures. AGEs are a waste product that can be potentially harmful and add to chronic inflammation.


There are a few studies and reports that have said drinking a glass of wine or having a drink a day is actually better for our health. However, an overconsumption of alcohol can cause an overgrowth of bacteria, increase risk of insulin resistance, can cause impairment in the gut and liver leading to an increase of toxins within the body. All which sends repetitive signals to the immune system that there are invaders and the body needs to be on the defense causing chronic inflammation.

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial ingredients are so common in different food products. We often see advertisements on labels that say "reduced sugar" or "sugar-free". However, the body is not able to digest or breakdown artificial foods, including artificial sweeteners. When artificial sweeteners enter our system, they are seen as foreign invaders. This sets up inflammation throughout the entire body.

Fried Food

The ultimate "no-no" when it comes to inflammatory trigger foods. Fried anything you consume is a huge contributor to the inflammatory response. This is due to the oil the food is fried in that contain chemicals that are highly process and typically contain additives. Another contributor with these oils are the omega-6 fats that need omega-3 fats to counter act the inflammatory response from the omega-6. Most fried food are carbohydrates that just adds to the inflammation.

Most people are experiencing inflammation to some degree. However, by reducing or eliminating one or all of these food items can reduce inflammation significantly. The gut will recognize the difference and will begin to heal itself within 24 hours. That is how soon the body recognizes the difference! Now this doesn't mean the bloating, the joint pain, headaches or health conditions will suddenly change overnight. No, unfortunately, it takes more time, patience, planning, and discipline on your part to really make a curve with inflammation. But I will say your body, immune system, and overall wellbeing will thank you for the change.

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