Last week, I lost 8.4 pounds by eliminating just one type of food from my diet. In seven days. I also lost my fatigue and achy joints and decreased my risks of developing rheumatoid arthritis, PCOS, Alzheimer’s, and several cancers! What the heck did I eliminate from my diet?! Inflammatory foods. Take a seat, and I’ll explain why inflammation matters, plus provide you with an inflammatory and anti inflammatory foods list so you can try it for yourself!
What is inflammation?
First things first, what is inflammation? When something stresses your body, your body will inflame, or swell, in an effort to protect and heal itself.
So when you sprain your ankle, you’ll experience swelling as your body works to heal the injury. When you lift heavy weights at the gym, you’ll notice swelling and soreness the next day around the muscles that you used. Yes, exercise is a very positive stressor, but the body’s reaction to heal is the same.
In the same way, certain foods, called inflammatory foods, can cause swelling in your body. Foods introduced in the last 70 years or so, like fast food and artificial sweeteners, cause inflammation because our bodies don’t recognize them.
Other foods, like grains and conventionally raised animals, should, in theory, be healthy and good for us. But due to genetic modifications, like unnatural additives and processing, our bodies no longer recognize them. And when the body doesn’t recognize something that we eat as food, it produces inflammation to protect us from it.
Inflammatory Foods List
Some of the most common inflammatory foods include:
- Artificial sweeteners
- Refined carbohydrates
- Fast food
- Fried foods
- Vegetable oils
- Hydrogenated oils
- Artificial colors and dyes
- Smoked or processed meats
- Conventionally raised animals
Why does inflammation matter?
I know what you’re thinking. I really do! Because I thought it too.
So what? I love soda, and don’t mind a little inflammation.
Here’s why you should care! When you’re eating inflammatory foods every day, your body is in a constant state of inflammation. This is called chronic inflammation. And chronic inflammation leads to disease because it’s just too much of a good thing.
I lived in Philadelphia when the Phillies won the World Series in 2008. And when they first won, it was epic. We ran out of our house and down the street to yell with bar and restaurant patrons.
We screamed and shook our fists at passing cars. They honked back at us, passengers hanging out the windows to give us high fives. And for about 30 minutes, every Philadelphian was high on life, hugging every stranger within a half-mile radius.
And then things got crazy because…well…Philadelphia. Soon people were joining together with those same strangers to flip cars upside down.
City workers hurried out to grease down light posts to stop fans from climbing them. Passions continued to rise and fights ensued.
In the same way, your immune system was designed to heal and protect your body. Good stuff!
But if it’s constantly inflamed, it gets overzealous. It will eventually begin to flood the body with defense cells and hormones that damage tissues and lead to disease.
In fact, chronic inflammation is at the root of a whole slew of health issues, including:
- Chronic bloating
- Increased belly fat
- Unexplained weight gain
- Digestive issues
- Hormone disruption
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Heart disease
- Some cancers
Sure, I love soda. In fact I used to drink upwards of six cans of Diet Coke a day!
But do you know what I love even more? Not feeling bloated, fatigued, and depressed all the time. I love balanced hormones and the reassuring knowledge that I’ve decreased my chances of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, which all run in my family.
Reducing Inflammation Through Diet
The next issue – I can see you thinking now – is that…this is a huge list of things to try cutting out of your diet, especially all at once! And if you’re anything like me, the foods on this list might comprise half of your diet.
This is why I tried to focus on just a few of the biggest offenders – sugar, artificial sweeteners, refined carbs, fast food, and soda. By cutting out these bigger categories, a few smaller ones (like fried foods and vegetable oils) were naturally eliminated by the larger groups.
You can also battle inflammation by incorporating anti inflammatory foods into your diet. These foods attack inflammation by turning off inflammatory genes, reducing damage caused by inflammation, and pumping up the concentration of beneficial bacteria in your gut.
Anti Inflammatory Foods List
Some of the most common anti inflammatory foods include:
- Non-starchy vegetables
- Wild-caught salmon
- Whole eggs
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- MCT oil
- Grass-fed, grass-finished beef
- Bone broth
- Raw nuts and seeds
To help you keep all of these food suggestions on hand, we’ve created a one-page reference guide to print and keep in your kitchen! It includes both an inflammatory and anti inflammatory foods list. Download it HERE.
Dietary Options For Reducing Inflammation
You have three options for incorporating this list into your diet. And as you might have guessed, the more effort you put into it, the more dramatic results you’ll see.
This is how I managed to lose over eight pounds of bloat in just seven days. I cut out nearly every inflammatory food on the list and tried to incorporate at least 2-3 anti inflammatory foods into my diet every day.
This approach takes the most effort, especially if you’re a sugar and carb junky like I was. But as Susan Elizabeth Phillips said, “Anything worth having is worth fighting for.”
Cut inflammatory foods out of your diet.
This option requires slightly less work than the first. It offers a little more room for your personal preferences since what you do eat doesn’t come from a list of suggested foods. And leaving room for personal preferences usually ups your chances of sticking with a plan.
Use our anti inflammatory foods list to incorporate an anti inflammatory food into every meal.
The last option is a lot easier, and might even feel a little fun! Leave the inflammatory foods in your diet if you must. But then substitute grass-finished beef for your regular 80/20, bone broth for chicken broth, or whole eggs for egg whites.
And you know throwing an avocado on top of anything makes it three times more delicious! This approach likely won’t eliminate all inflammation from your body but should help to reduce it.
Use your new anti inflammatory foods list to conquer inflammation once and for all!
Inflammation in your body is no bueno, and is at the root of hundreds of negative symptoms and diseases. You can combat these symptoms by cutting inflammatory foods from your diet, incorporating anti inflammatory foods, or trying a combination of both.
Ann Wigmore once said, “The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” What are you feeding your body today?
P.S. Want to remember this for later? We’ve created a one-page reference guide that you can print and keep in your kitchen! It includes both an inflammatory and anti inflammatory foods list. Download it HERE!
*Updated April 12, 2021.
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