Are Your Foods Causing Inflammation?

Are your foods causing inflammation?

The following is a guest post written by Dina-Marie of My Cultured Palate. Thank you, Dina-Marie!

I am Dina-Marie, and I am passionate about sharing with others the healing power of traditional real food because of the healing I, myself have experienced. Not until I was introduced to the GAPS diet, did I begin experiencing the reversal of several serious medical conditions – I am literally a new woman!

The GAPS diet focuses on healing and restoring the good gut bacteria. The bacteria found in our gut is of utmost importance to our overall health for proper digestion and immunity!

Did you know that 70% of our immune cells are in our digestive tract? And, they come into contact with the food eaten every day?

With this in mind, it makes since to have our digestive tract in good working order. I know from my experience with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis and meat allergies spanning over 30 years, that once the healing in my gut began to take place through real food, I was a different woman! After being on GAPS for a year now, I have no arthritis pain (my joints are no longer inflamed, red or swollen), my osteoporosis is reversing and I am really enjoying meat after being a vegetarian because of my meat allergies!

Source of food-related inflammation

So, what is the source of food-related inflammation? There are two:

1. The bacteria in food, or a food flagged as an allergen can trigger an inflammatory reaction. Inflammation is important to the body in the aspect of healing. But, if there is chronic inflammation in the body, it can and often does lead to many serious conditions. Often, bad bacteria in the gut produces toxins which result in physical illnesses. These bad bacteria can be replaced through a diet which eliminates foods that feed them and adding probiotic foods, such as, homemade sauerkraut, fermented carrots, yogurt and kefir, to the diet.

(where to buy fermented food starter cultures)

2. Undigested proteins passing into the bloodstream trigger an inflammatory response. The last stage of digestion is performed by the enterocytes in the intestines. If they are not functioning properly, the proteins pass into the blood stream without being fully digested causing an inflammatory response. This is the case in patients with GAPS, like me. If this is the problem, the gut must be allowed to heal before complete digestion can occur. Read GAPS Review to learn more.

Many people are able to pinpoint particular food which contribute to inflammation. Here are a few inflammatory foods to avoid.

Top 5 Inflammatory Foods

1. Refined Sugar

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that processed sugars and other high-glycemic starches increase inflammation, which causes pain, overheating, redness and swelling. The Dartmouth Medical School also found that sugar causes acne. According to CNN:

High amounts of sugar in the diet increase advanced glycation end-products, or AGEs, a protein bound to a glucose molecule, resulting in damaged, cross-linked proteins. As the body tries to break these AGEs apart, immune cells secrete inflammatory messengers called cytokines. Depending on where the AGEs occur and your genetic predisposition, they could eventually result in arthritis, cataracts, heart disease, poor memory or wrinkled skin.

A better choice is natural sweeteners like honey, black-strap molasses, fresh and dried fruit.

(where to buy natural sweeteners)

2. Refined Grains

Processed grains are similar to refined sugar in that have a higher glycemic index than unprocessed grains and can increase inflammation. White flour breaks down quickly into sugar while still in your mouth! Compared to whole grains, the refined grains have very little fiber or vitamin B.

A better choice is properly prepared whole grains.

(where to buy properly prepared flours & whole grains)

3. Artificial Sweetener

Many artificial sweetener cause inflammation especially if you are already prone to it. Aspartame is a common artificial sweetener than many people identify as a culprit.

A better choice is natural sweeteners like honey and black-strap molasses.

(where to buy natural sweeteners)

4. Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oils including corn, soy, cottonseed, canola and trans fats are imbalanced in their omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids content. They have a very high omega-6 content and very low omega-3 content – this imbalance encourages inflammation.

A better choice is olive oil which contains oleic acid and is an anti-inflammatory. The Journal of the American College of Nutrition found people consuming more oleic acid have better insulin function and lower blood sugar.

However, most imported olive oils are fake, so be careful to by a REAL oil.

(where to buy real olive oil)

5. Commercially Raised Meat

Feedlot raised animals are fed a diet that is high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids but low in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. They are fed grains like soy beans and corn. Due to the confined space in which these animal live, they are also given hormones to encourage growth and antibiotics to prevent illness.

A better choice is wild or grass-fed meat in which the animal has a natural diet of grass rather than grain. This yields meat which is higher in omega-3 fats.

(where to buy wild & grass-fed meats)

Be Aware

Healthy cells, blood vessels and tissues can be attacked instead of protected by chronic inflammation. Over time, these overactive inflammatory cells and the accompanying hormones take their toll on our bodies. The symptoms may be subtle, often characterized by headache and fatigue and are dismissed. Listen to your body and its warnings.

Support your immune system with the foods you eat!

Meet Dina-Marie

Dina-Marie of My Cultured Palate

Dina-Marie is the author of Cultured Palate blog and the mom of 10 children, 7 of whom are still at home. Moving to West Texas to begin a vineyard has brought many changes among them being a return to health through the GAPS diet, learning about “real” food and becoming a chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation. Dina-Marie began Cultured Palate because of her passion to spread the healing potential of real traditional food and to encourage others with a nutrient dense diet and simple family life.

Sources: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, CNN, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, The Conscious Life 1 and 2

Photo Credit


  1. says

    Thanks for the great article! I have checked out Cultured Palate before & it is a great site. I especially appreciate the reference links. As a Dietitian swimming upstream a bit, I am continually trying to support & promote real foods with as much evidence base as possible.
    I’d also recommend a pure stevia extract for natural sweetner!

  2. susan says

    Hi, I am in the habit of asking bloggers to say more about their osteoporosis reversing and I haven’t gotten any takers yet. The ‘medical literature’, and any doc I have talked to say reversing it is not in the cards. Do you have bone scans to support the claim? I don’t doubt it, but am not finding much support for the claim online when I go looking for reinforcement.


    • says

      I would like to know this also–I have haerd that you can stop it from worsening but not reverse it. I have osteoporis which I believe is from gluten intolerance (my mom, Grandma and aunt all have it and all had digestive issues–mom is now trying gluten free too)I was also a vegetarian for about 10 years which I now think was detrimental to my health.I have not had the money to get a DEXA scan to see if I have improved or not(the last one was 3 years ago)–I did have a heel test done at a health fair which showed that it was better but not sure if those are accurate. I am hoping that the changes I have made in the last 3 years has helped!

    • says

      Bone tissue is living tissue and can be regenerated and rejuvenated through nutrition and other natural means- means which allopathy does not use or avail itself to, so in their view “nothing can be done”.

  3. Jean finch says

    I am replying to Susan about reversing osteoporosis by diet. I had readings in the negative all while taking fosomax. After I stopped the drug I read about soaking grains and nuts, which I began to do and raw milk which I started drinking. I already had cut my sugar to nearly zero and I never have been a fan of diet cokes or other soft drinks. After 2 years my tests came back positive and I made a 2 and 1/2 point improvement over any readings in years. Needless to say I am a believer from my own experience!

  4. says

    I love this article! We need more exposure to the GAPS diet because I think it can help so many people that have unexplained digestive and autoimmune issues. I have been plagued with digestive and inflammatory issues for more than 10 years; right now I cannot eat any grains, sugar and also dairy (unless aged) because of the inflammation, digestive upset , severe fatigue and brain fog it causes, not to mention joint pain it causes. I had to self research and then find a good natural doctor to help with my diet. I too am a whole new person. I do have times when I slip and eat something I shouldn’t, and am quickly learning its not worth eating processed junk and feeling horrible for a week when I can eat whole, delicious foods and feel fabulous.

    I applaud your dedication to GAPS. What are your thoughts on probiotics? Do you get most of these from fermented foods? How long did it take you to see results and how long have you had inflammation and other issues ?
    Thanks! Vanessa Hill

    • says

      Vanessa, for about 8 mths, I took the probiotic that Dr. McBride recommends, Bio Kult. Now, however, I get my probiotics from fermented foods. I started the GAPS diet because of rheumatoid arthritis which I have had since I was a teenager. My pain was so bad that I could not cut my own pancakes! Within 2 weeks of starting GAPS, my pain was gone – it was phenomenal!

  5. Sharon Festa says

    Hi..I truly believe everything you are posting. I have a question, though. I’m a chronic migraine sufferer, as well as a fibromyalgia, IBS, etc. individual! I cannot tolerate ANY fermented foods. If I do, I am in bed for days with a MONSTER migraine. I have so many food allergies (beans,milk,vinegar, etc.) This diet sounds awesome & I truly believe all my problems are coming from my stomach. I am lost as where I should start. I only drink water, no prepared foods,but I seem to always be craving sweets. I know this is coming from my gut, but just at a lost as to what to eat. Any suggestions would surely help me. Thanks so much!

    • says

      Sharon, have you read the Gut and Psychology Syndrome book by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride? The symptoms you describe could actually be toxins release by the die off of bad bacteria. I would recommend reading the book and even consulting with a certified GAPS provider.

  6. says

    I whole heartedly agree with everything on this list ESPECIALLY the commercially raised meats tip. I haven’t purchases meats from the grocery store in 10 years. I purchase it on line from a farm in Wisconsin, North Star Bison – 100% grass-fed/finished meats. They are simply the most delicious meats I have ever had and I will never touch anything else, lol!

    I certainly hope all of these tips you just exposed catch on with people!! They’re so important!

  7. says

    This is interesting :

    “Some herbs have anti-inflammatory properties
    Harpagophytum procumbens – also known as devil’s claw, wood spider or grapple plant comes from South Africa and is related to sesame plants. European colonists brought devil’s claw back home to treat arthritis, fever and pain. According to the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, Devil’s Claw has diuretic, sedative and analgesic properties.

    Hyssop Hyssopus – from the plant family Lamiaceae, is added to eau de Cologne and Chartreuse (liqueur drink). It is also used to color some spirits. Hyssop is mixed with other herbs, such as liqourice for the treatment of some lung conditions, including inflammation. Beware of the essential oils of hyssop, as they can lead to life-threatening convulsions in laboratory animals.

    Ginger, also known as ginger root, is the mass of roots (rhizome) of the Zingiber officinale plant. It is used as a medicine or a spice. Jamaican ginger was the traditional medical form of this root, and has been used as a carminative (to treat gas or wind) and a stimulant. It has been used for hundreds of years to treat dyspepsia, constipation, colic, other gastrointestinal problems, as well as rheumatoid arthritis pain.

    Researchers from Michigan Medical School reported that ginger supplements were found to reduce the markers of colon inflammation. Chronic colon inflammation is associated with a higher risk of developing colon cancer. They added that ginger supplements may help prevent colon cancer.

    Turmeric (Curcuma longa) – also a plant of the ginger family. Current research is looking into the possible beneficial effects of turmeric in treating arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and some other inflammatory conditions. Curcumin, a substance found in turmeric, is under investigation for the treatment of several illnesses and disorders, including inflammation.

    Cannabis – contains a cannabinnoid called cannabichromene, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
    Other treatments for inflammation
    Applying ice – do not place the ice in direct contact with skin, wrap it in a cloth or a purpose-made ice bag. Applying ice has been shown to reduce inflammation. Athletes commonly use ice treatment for managing pain and inflammation. Inflammation can go down more rapidly if you rest, apply ice, compression, and elevate the affected area (have your ankle raised if the swelling is there, for example).

    Fish oil (Omega-3) – scientists form Ohio State University Center for Clinical and Translational Science reported on a study in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity that the daily consumption of fish oil, omega-3 reduced both inflammation and anxiety in a group of young healthy people.

    Green tea – researchers from the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center found that regular green tea drinking enhances bone health and reduces inflammation in postmenopausal women. They added that Tai-Chi appears to have the same beneficial effect.

    Tart cherries – sports scientists found that tart cherries have powerful anti-inflammatory properties which may help millions of Americans who suffer from joint pain and arthritis. The team, from Oregon Health & Science University even went as far as saying that “(tart cherries) have the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food”. They believe that tart cherries could help patients with osteoarthritis manage their pain effectively. Twenty females aged from 40 to 70 years drank tart cherry juice twice a day for three weeks; they all suffered from inflammatory osteoarthritis. At the end of the three weeks there were significant falls in levels of key inflammation markers.

    Written by Christian Nordqvist

    Original article date: 30th July 2012. Article updated 12th December 2012.

    Copyright: Medical News Today
    Not to be reproduced without the permission of Medical News Today.”

    I left out the top of the article. This part you will like better me thinks.

  8. Dawn Shatto via Facebook says

    I’m loving your posts’ Food Renegade! I Truly believe food make us sick and food makes us well!

  9. says

    Foods and herbs that help cure acne include carrots,
    ginger, garlic, and papaya. Packaged and highly processed foods as well as fast foods
    are some of the worst culprits. We can turn off inflammatory genes and turn on anti-inflammatory genes when we cook these healthy diet recipes.

  10. says

    In fact, refined vegetable oils, like soy oil, are used in most of the snack foods, cookies, crackers, and sweets in the American diet as well as in fast food items.
    MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) is not a medicine, a drug or
    a food additive. Hopefully you already eat a lot of fruit
    and vegetables in your diet, if not then you should
    start to add them now.

  11. Christine Hansbraugh via Facebook says

    I am discovering the serious drawbacks to treating inflammation with NSAIDS (aspirin, ibuprofen/Motrin, Aleve, etc.). It ruined my stomach, thereby ruining my digestion. I took ibuprofen for monthly issues, leg pain, fevers, etc. Not anymore! Now I have to fix it…

  12. Heather Chilton Wormsley via Facebook says

    Have eaten WAPF diet for 8 years. After messing with my hormones via homeopathic HCG, skin cancer developed, and then major gut inflammation. I successfully did GAPS Intro and Full GAPS (and pain after every meal ended), but looking like I was pregnant stayed– as well as slowly adding pounds. I had the full allergy panel run through my ND= NO allergies, but a high IGG score. I went on The Lyn-Genet Plan (and have been on it for 98 days) to figure out exactly what foods are inflammatory FOR ME. It’s been eye-opening (ie., all beans except garbanzo, egg WHITES…) but I take one step forward and two back. All of this while having all the goodies in my life (water/milk kefir, kraut, kombucha, pickled veggies…) Someday I will be healthy again .

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