Lesson 4: Food & Inflammation

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We have all heard something about inflammation, but why mention it when talking about foods?


We are all familiar with inflammation which is our bodies first response of the immune system: swelling, redness and pain. Inflammation is part of the bodies natural defense against irritation, toxins, and other foreign molecules. A specific cascade of events happens where the body’s white blood cells and cytokines mobilize to protect you from foreign invaders. But what happens if this fine line of inflammation and healing gets overloaded? An immune system out of control is created shifting the body into a constant state of defense resulting in constant inflammation. Today many people have immune systems out of control from caused not only by environmental issues, but also, by the food they eat.

Research now shows that one of the root causes of inflammation can be attributed to the foods we eat. Inflammation has been shown to be a major factor in many diseases from cancer to diabetes and digestive disorders. How can inflammation be this be bad for you? Look at it like this; inflammation causes swelling outward and inward. So if for example your arteries are swelling on the outside and inside, then the passageway for the blood has just gotten smaller and the body works harder to do the same work. Overtime inflammation continues and adds up. Now think about this happening with throughout your entire body, the nervous system, organs, and tissues, etc… You can see why inflammation could end up being an issue that needs to be avoided as much as possible. Keep in mind this is a very basic outline of how inflammation can affect the body.

Foods That Cause Inflammation

Knowing what foods cause inflammation is important. Diets high in refined or hydrogenated vegetable oils such as those found in margarine, potato chips and baked goods can increase inflammation in the body. Take a look at those golden french fries from you favorite fast food provider and remember they probably use a cheap oil that helps to contribute to inflammation. Food additives and chemicals (preservatives) are seen by the body as foreign entities, which cause the body to kick in the immune system response to subdue the entities and the result is inflammation. Now you will begin to understand why commercially processed food (fast food and food prepared from a box) can be so bad for you.

One of the largest causes of inflammation is Sugar. Yes that five letter word again. To be blunt sugar is a killer. Today we eat sugar like there is no tomorrow, sadly that maybe true. Sugar is metabolized by the body into the blood as glucose very rapidly causing a high glucose level triggering the inflammation response. So the faster the foods show up as glucose in our blood, the faster inflammatory responses occur. High blood sugar damages the nervous system, the blood vessels and every part of our body through its eroding process. Understand I am not talking just about heavy sugar foods like candy and soda only. I am also talking about what I term as “hidden sugar foods” which, turn into sugar (glucose) in the digestive track.  Some of these foods are grain based like: breads, cakes, cereals, pasta, crackers, etc… Even the granola bar which has been labeled a health food has a high sugar content. Now lets add the starch based foods into the mix, (white potatoes, chips, etc..). Since these foods are so highly processed the body breaks them down into sugar very rapidly, sometimes in just seconds.

White flour digests and turns to sugar more quickly than whole wheat, but keep in mind all grains will end up digesting into sugar, some more, some less.  How foods are prepared can help to reduce their inherent inflammation causing affect. But wait in lesson 3, you mentioned soaking and how this helped to make grains better for you. Yes, soaking does help the grains to be digested more efficiently rewarding you with more vitamins and minerals from the food. Remember the biggest benefit of soaking is the reduction of phytic acid which has anti-nutrient effects. Overall it is a good practice to limit the intake of grains.

But food can also be part of the solution to the problem of inflammation. Anti-inflammatory foods, if eaten regularly, can reduce inflammation in the body and bring the problem under control. If you can add anti-inflammatory foods into each meal and reduce the number of inflammatory foods eaten daily an improvement can be made. People who are able to do this on a regular basis often report a noticeable improvement in previous discomforts.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods List


Bell Peppers
Bok Choy
Broccoli Sprouts
Brussels Sprouts
Fennel Bulb
Green Beans
Green Onions/Spring Onions
Sweet potatoes
Turnip Greens


Acerola (West Indian) Cherries
Fresh Pineapple

Herbs & Spices

Cayenne Peppers/Chilli Peppers
Cocoa (raw cacao)

Fish / Meats

Beef (grass-fed only)
Rainbow Trout
Snapper Fish
Striped Bass

Nuts & Seeds

Sunflower Seeds

Fats & Oils

Avocado Oil
Coconut Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Black Tea
Green Tea
Milk (preferably raw)
Red Wine (in moderation)
Water, pure filtered


Enokidake Mushrooms
Maitake Mushrooms
Oyster Mushrooms
Shiitake Mushrooms

Lesson Assignment: Try to find some foods from the lists above that you can work into your diet in every meal. I suggest starting with the easy ones like Fats & Oils, Drinks and Snacks. For example, try to replace one meal’s drink with one from the list each day. So here is the application – If you drink sweet tea or soda with a meal, instead drink water with some lemon and if you want it sweet use some stevia, (see lesson 1). Each week increase the number of meals that have a healthy food. Drinking Red Wine with every meal could help reduce the inflammation and make things more entertaining, but may cause other issues. 😉 Be wise in your choices. Remember make changes slowly and don’t move to the next change till you know it is a keeper.

Do share your changes and success in a comment below so we all can cheer you on.

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  1. Mary Bearden says

    Being on a low income-this will help me to begin to feel and eat better.

  2. What about Kombucha tea? It is made with sugar.

    • After the fermenting process the amount of sugar left in the Kombucha tea is about 1/5 of what you start with, and it is usually a few grams per serving. In moderation this is usually not an issue. Just rememeber that word moderation, which might mean having one every so often, not 3 times a day. 🙂

  3. Glad to know that some of what I was eating is good for me! I’m interested in seeing how being off sugar will affect my asthma and the frequency of bronchitis.

  4. The anti-inflammation food list is very helpful. The sugar causing inflammation I recently learned when researching how to help my husband reduce pain in his back from an injury. It was just amazing how much less pain he had just from cutting sugar out of his diet, and lowering carbs.

    • Great that your husband is seeing relief, good job on the reserach. After a time of eating very little is any sugar you will see the great results of almost no inflammation. I recently turned my ankle at the gym, there way just about no swelling. Now let me tell you it hurt bad like when I had done this in the past, but after a day of care and healing I was back in the gym. My trainer did not believe I was back. When I had turned this ankle in the past I would be down for almost a week and had to be very careful for the next few weeks. When inflammation is absent from the body real healing can take place and you will be amazed by how fast the body can heal. Another good think to look at is water. – Jeff

  5. So is the cocoa powder that you can buy at any grocery store not raw?

  6. Thank you for the list can’t wait to try to get them in the diet.

  7. Thanks for the list. Looks like I have some new mushrooms to try out.

  8. Where does lard or tallow register (from grass fed animals)? I know it’s a strange question, but I have been thinking about adding those into our diets because I can render my own which makes it more affordable than the fats you have listed.

  9. …and lettuce

    • lacygene, I checked Lettuce, cos or romaine, raw and it is a 10 anti-inflammation value on the charts. This is a much better filler food to eat daily and it provides great dietary fiber to keep that colon clean.

  10. what about carob?

    • lacygene, Carob contains a component called lignans. Lignans have been found to be antiviral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and they say “anti-inflammatory”. But my concern is that when looking at the nutritional info on carob I see that it is a negative on the charts (-218), this would mean it is inflammatory, even if minor. Compare this to brown sugar which is (-1142), very inflammatory. Broccoli is 50 on the charts, nicely anti-inflammatory.

      So, while carob has some good properties I would say based on the nutritional data it would not be a good anti-inflammatory food. If you do consume it I would do so in limited amounts.

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