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Food triggers of inflammation


It has been known for many years that dietary factors can and do influence the general health of the body. In this article, I decided to focus on common food triggers that can aggravate inflammation. It is very common for patients to present in clinic with generalised fatigue, aches and pains, headaches and aggravation of musculoskeletal complaints.


Research suggests that many common inflammatory conditions may be affected by certain food allergy, intolerance or sensitivity reactions that contribute to inflammatory symptoms. Removal of these foods from one’s diet has been shown to significantly reduce common inflammatory symptoms & improve an individual’s general health & well-being.

General guidelines

Eliminate aggravating foods

  • Wheat and highly processed carbohydrates – White rice, pasta, bread
  • o It is preferable to avoid all gluten containing grains where possible, however, those listed above are the most aggravating
  • Cow’s milk products
  • Solonaceae family – Potatoes, tomatoes, capsicums/peppers, aubergines, chillies, tobacco
  • Citrus fruit family
  • Red meat
  • Caffeinated beverages


  • Oily and white fish
  • Alkalising fruits and vegetables
  • Lots of Dark Leafy Greens!
  • Encourage omega 3 fatty acids – ALA (flaxseed, canola, walnut); EPA and DHA (Fish – mackerel, tuna, salmon, sardines, snapper, perch, gemfish)
  • Encourage antioxidants – Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, fresh herbs – basil, coriander, mint and parsley


  • Omega 6 fatty acids – Safflower, sunflower, peanut, soy, corn, sesame, almond, brazil, cashew, peanut, pecan, pine nut

Food choices

Food GroupIncludeExclude
FruitsUnsweetened fresh, frozen or water-packed, fruit juices (except those specifically prohibited)Unsweetened fresh, frozen or water-packed, fruit juices (except those specifically prohibited)
VegetablesRaw, steamed, sautéed, juiced or baked vegetables (except those specifically prohibited)Canned or creamed vegetables, all nightshade family vegetables (tomatoes, all potatoes except sweet potatoes/yams, eggplant, capsicums.
BeveragesPurified/filtered or low-sodium natural mineral water, fresh vegetable & fruit juices, herbal tea (non citrus), dandelion coffee/tea, caro, ecco, non-dairy milks, hot carob, green teaAlcoholic beverages, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, caffeinated beverages, soft drinks
FatsCold or expeller pressed oils from: olive, flaxseed, linseed, safflower, sunflower, sesame, walnut, pumpkin, almond.Margarine, butter, shortening, processed oils, salad dressings, spreads.
Breads/GrainsRice – brown rice, rice bread, rice pancakes, rice cakes, rice pasta, rice milk, cream of rice, puffed rice; Tapioca; Amaranth; Millet; Teff; QuinoaWheat, corn, oats, barley, spelt, kamut, rye or gluten containing products
Protein SourcesFish (fresh or canned) – cod, halibut, mackerel, salmon, tuna, trout, blue-eyed cod, barramundi, snapper, perch, sardines; Meats: wild game, chicken, turkey, lamb (hormone free); Legumes – dried beans, peas, Humous, tahina, falafel (homemade); Eggs (organic and hormone free); soy products – tofu, tempeh, soy milk, soy yoghurt. Small amounts of goat’s or sheep’s dairy products – milk, yoghurt, cheeseBeef, pork, cold cuts, frankfurters, sausage, salami, canned meats, shellfish
Nuts and SeedsEncourage omega 3 fatty acids in both oil, food product, and nut butter forms:  ALA (flaxseed, canola, walnut)EPA and DHA (Fish – mackerel, tuna, salmon, sardines, snapper, perch, gemfish) Enjoy smaller quantities of Omega 6 fatty acids in both oil, food product, and nut butter forms: Safflower, sunflower, peanut, soy, corn, sesame, almond, brazil, cashew, peanut, pecan, pine nutPeanuts, pistachios, peanut butter
Dairy ProductsMilk products from rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet, almond and small amounts from sheep’s and goat’s milksMilk products from cow, oat and other grains; soy; non-dairy creamers
SpicesAniseed, bay leaf, basil, cardamom, celery seed, chilli, cinnamon, cumin, dill, dry mustard, fennel, garlic, ginger, marjoram, onion, oregano, parsley, poppy seeds, rosemary, saffron, sage, tarragon, thyme, turmericCayenne pepper, table salt
SweetenersSmall quantities of unrefined, organic honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, rice nectar, fruit sweetener, molasses, Agave syrupNo white or brown refined sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup
SaucesTamari, apple cider vinegar, humous, tahina, tahini, homemade teriyaki sauce, homemade cashew sauce, homemade miso gravy, balsamic, apple or rice vinegarTomato, salsa, soy, teriyaki, barbecue, sweet & sour, sweet chilli sauce
* Remember to keep soy product intake to a minimum.

General Health Tips

A few key points to consider:

  • Respect your body with what you put into your mouth. If it doesn’t feel as though your body will benefit from it, it is best avoided.
  • Respect your body with the environments and people you surround yourself with
  • Eat when you are hungry and only what you require to function at your optimum
  • Connect to the idea of eating what ‘gives you energy’ rather than what ‘takes energy to assimilate’
  • Hydrate even when not thirsty with pure spring water
  • Ensure you have a minimum of 8 hour restful sleep per night
  • Avoid anything you have a ‘need’ for – food addictions are too common and suggest an imbalance
  • If your weight does not reflect your healthiest body, look at why this is the case. Weight loss or gain can indicate a number of factors from what is consumed, lack of exercise, hormonal imbalances, emotional issues, excessive stress and others.
  • Learn to rotate foods & not over consume the same type of foods on a regular basis.
  • Remember to enjoy eating again. Have a colourful meal that is rich in nutritional value & flavour. Take pleasure in preparing wholesome meals that you will enjoy eating, as food is nourishment for life. Digestion starts in your brain so think about what you are going to eat and enjoy eating.
  • Chew your food carefully and slowly.
  • Partake in regular aerobic exercise for 1/2 – 1 hour every day.