Anti-Inflammatory Diet

What is Inflammation?

Simply put, inflammation is the immune system’s response to a stimulus that is viewed as foreign or toxic to your body (aka an antigen).

Your immune system constantly monitors for anything that appears as a foreign intruder (like an infectious bacteria or other material) that shouldn’t be in the body and is always at the ready to signal its highly specialized troops of cells and molecules to attack and dispose of the foreign material.

It is an essential part of healing in acute conditions (e.g., a fever fighting an infection). However, when your immune system is disrupted, it puts itself unnecessarily on constant defense, sending inflammation continually flowing throughout your body. In this state, it’s working against you, instead of for you, by switching focus from the antigen it’s supposed to attack and instead launching a targeted strike on your own cells, and tissues.

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms or conditions, you might be suffering from chronic inflammation:

  • joint pain or other aches and pains
  • fatigue
  • depression
  • digestive upset
  • skin problems (acne, eczema, psoriasis)
  • food sensitivities
  • resistant weight loss
  • autoimmune conditions

How can you create a healthy, anti-inflammatory lifestyle? 

1.)   Build a healthy gut: Our digestive system has the highest concentration of immune cells in our entire body and is charged with preventing toxins and pathogens from entering the bloodstream. To do this job properly, your digestive lining should be woven tightly, like a piece of cheesecloth. If it becomes too permeable, or a “leaky gut” (from a poor diet, environmental insults, overuse of antibiotics, and so on), it can allow undigested nutrient particles to get into your bloodstream. Various toxins and bacteria can also pass through. These escapees can trigger your immune system, leading to inflammation.

Anti-inflammatory Diet:

Do:  Rule of thumb = Organic (not GMO), not processed, high quality grass-fed meats, less sugar (no artificial sweeteners), more veggies, eat probiotics and anti-inflammatory spices.

1.    Fiber: Fiber has naturally occurring phytonutrients that are anti-inflammatory.

·      Brown rice or Quinoa.

·      Popcorn. It's a great source of fiber.

·      Nuts. Almonds, pecans, and walnuts have more fiber than other nuts (sometimes nuts can be difficult to digest and will give excess bloat and gas…if you notice this then try to find other sources of fiber).

·      Berries and fruits (try to be careful with the sugar intake –  avoid juices. They are mostly sugar and have very little good fibers left)

·      Bran cereal.

2.    Vegetables and fruits:

·      Organic vegetables are about as good as it gets (processing, like microwavable dinners from the store, usually means more salt and bad fats with less nutritional value - Best case scenario is to cook them yourself).

·      Organic tart cherries, blueberries, cranberries, papaya, pineapple.

3.    Lots of alliums and crucifers:

·      Allium = Scallions, garlic, onions, leeks…

·      Crucifers = broccoli cabbage, cauliflower, mustard greens, Brussel sprouts.

4.    Spices!!

·      You can buy turmeric supplements at the store and take a daily dose to decrease inflammation.

·      Arnica is an amazing anti-inflammatory. You can get it in creams that are applied topically to areas (joints) that are inflamed.

·      Ginger, turmeric, curry, fenugreek, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, coriander, cayenne pepper and garlic can all be used in cooking and are anti-inflammatory.

5.    Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids:

·      The body uses fats to make new cells all the time. Providing good fats for the body means healthier tissues. Flax oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and fish oil are all great sources of omega-3s (you can also get your omegas by eating cold-water fish such as salmon, oysters, herring, mackerel, trout, sardines, and anchovies).

6.    Supplements:

·      Vitamin C, selenium, B-vitamins

·      Probiotics: make sure that any probiotic you take is refrigerated. They are supposed to be live cultures of bacteria, if they are not refrigerated then the cultures are most likely dead. The most important thing to look at when buying a probiotic is the CFU’s. That’s the amount of bacteria are in a supplement. Also look for diversity. You want to have several kinds of bacterial strains, not just one.

                                              i.     Finding probiotics in fermented food: miso, sour krout, Kimchi, pickles…anything fermented or pickled. You can also find probiotics in organic kefir, yogurts and kombucha (just watch for sugar intake in these products)

                                            ii.     Bio-K – this is one of the best probiotics I’ve found. You can find it at Berkeley Bowl and whole foods). It’s expensive but worth it. Start with only half a container. Taking the whole container can give indigestion because it’s too strong and you need to acclimate.

                                          iii.     Ultimate Flora

                                           iv.     Life and Food Ultra Probiotic-50

7.    WATER: about 8 – 10 cups/day.

·      Drink an BIG glass of water (maybe even 2) first thing when you wake up. This will get your bowels moving, flush your kidneys, and balance your hormones. Add a slice of lemon for good measure.

·      Try to carry a water bottle with you at all times. This will encourage you to drink more fluids through the day. We are chronically dehydrated. The importance of water cannot be overstated.

·      Buy a home water filter (reverse osmosis with a carbon filter is the most effective). Good clean water is key to reducing inflammation.

8.    Good meats:

·      Make sure your meat protein is the best quality. Organic, free-range, grass-fed, antibiotic free meats. Ocean fish is preferred to farmed fish. It costs more, but is SO much better for your body.



1.    NO TRANS FATS + Limit saturated fats. (studies have shown that these fats, and meat containing these fats, are high in C-reactive protein, a biomarker for inflammation in the body)

·      This includes all fast foods, anything fried, meats that are not grass fed (in other words, avoid grain fed meats).

·      If it says “hydrogenated” on the label, don’t eat it: ie. vegetable shortening, margarines, crackers and cookies are a few examples.

2.    Avoid processed foods and refined sugars:

·      No high fructose corn syrup, no artificial sweeteners

3.    No coffee:

·      coffee is acidic, acidic substances increase inflammation. (alternatives are green teas like Matcha. Matcha is cooling, highly antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and alkaline in nature – 1 teaspoon Matcha with oak milk and a little honey is a great place to start. Adjust to taste).

4.    No alcohol:

·      Although one glass of wine has some health benefits, it is very inflammatory and acidic. alcohol is also toxic and difficult for your liver to process. If you are already having issues with inflammation I would recommend avoiding alcohol…If you must, no more then one glass of organic red wine/ night. 

Aside from dietary changes, here are some other considerations in regards to inflammation reduction:

Maintain proper hormone levels:

·      Decrease stress and carbohydrate intake!!!

Hormones like cortisol (triggered by stress) and insulin (triggered by refined carbohydrate intake) are inflammatory to your system. Endocrine disrupters (found in many personal care products and pesticides) can suppress thyroid hormones, which not only regulate metabolism but are involved with gut health and inflammation and play a critical role in nearly every physiological process in our bodies.

a.)  Reducing stress:

a.    Exercise: have a regimen of some form of exercise everyday is vital to reducing stress (Yoga, Pilates, swimming, running, walking… even just getting up from your desk every hour and stretching)

b.    Meditation: even 10 minutes of meditation in the morning can be very stress reducing.

c.     Gratitude lists: starting out the day with a gratitude list can put life in perspective and help manage stress.

b.)  Carbohydrate reduction: cut back on the breads and sugars.


·      Get at least 7 hours of sleep every night – but aim for 8.

·      Have good sleep hygiene: turn off electronics 30minutes before bed. Start the process of winding down an hour before you plan to sleep. Try to have as little light and noise in your bedroom as possible.

How to Manage Inflammation

How to Manage Inflammation

A) Clearing toxins: It is important to clear the inflammation from your system. We can do that by optimizing your bodies detoxing/flushing capabilities. 

     1) Though urination: Drink lots of water - especially in the morning - to flush your kidneys. The kidneys filter about 120 - 150 quarts of blood every day and we excrete 1-2 quarts of waste and water per day! The more water we drink, the more our kidneys are flushed and our blood is filtered. This is a great mechanism to clear waste from our system.

     2) Through bowel movement: clearing out food waste and toxins with a good BM keeps your GI healthy and prevents/reduces issues like leaky gut. Here are some ways to have a smooth and complete BM:

           - GREENS: Vegetables! Especially bitters like salad greens, spinach, chard...

           - Probiotics: Bio K is amazing...but expensive. Garden of Life RAW probiotics, and Ultimate flora are also good brands. (just make sure they are refrigerated).

           - Water, water, water...

           - good oils will "lube the tube" as well.

     3) Through oxygen exchange (aka breathing): remember that 70% of our waste is excreted through the simple act of exhaling. So breath deep! Breathing exercises and meditations are a great way to implement deep breathing (and they also decrease stress which in turn reduces inflammation so it's a win win!).

B) Reducing inflammatory inputs: autoimmune conditions are inflammatory by nature. We need to eliminate what is creating the systemic inflammation. Most often, this immune overactivity is created by allergenic foods and leaky gut.

Leaky gut is intestinal permeability. A possible cause of leaky gut is increased intestinal permeability or intestinal hyper-permeability. That could happen when tight junctions in the gut, which control what passes through the lining of the small intestine, don't work properly. This lets substances leak into the bloodstream. Those substances are perceived by the immune system as "foreign" and stimulate an immune response.

so.... we must heal the gut.

How do we do this? First and foremost, eliminate causes of inflammation - especially starches and sugars - from the diet.

A strict paleo diet for 30 days is a great way to help reduce inflammation and "hit the reset button" on your immune system. After 30 days we can start adding food back methodically so we can examine which foods you are having a reaction to (which foods make you have stomach upset, feel fatigued, etc..).

Chris Kresser is a amazing resource for autoimmune-nutrition.


Here are some links to relevant articles:

 HLA-B27 and autoimmune disease: Is a low starch diet the solution?

5 Steps to Personalize your Autoimmune Paleo Protocol


He also has a series of articles called: Beyond Paleo

ALL of the Beyond Paleo articles are great and informative! if you had to pick... 



Beyond Paleo: Don't Eat Toxins

Beyond Paleo: Heal your Gut

Beyond Paleo: Eat Real Food

Beyond Paleo: Nourish Your Body