Inflammatory Foods

Hi friends!

Many of you have read my story that I shared in my very first blog post. My story is not necessarily unique! While it is MY story, and no two stories are the same, many have somewhat similar experiences. In this blog, I want to talk a little about inflammatory foods, outside of ultra-processed foods, that drive many of our “stories”. Here are some common inflammatory foods that are staples in the standard American diet.

1) Gluten: No, not everyone needs to go gluten free, and by all means get tested for celiac disease before trying a gluten free diet if you so wish. Grains, unrefined/whole grains that is, including those containing gluten, are good sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber needed for health. This is where you may have to experiment if you have either digestive struggles or chronic illness. Keep in mind that even if someone does not test positive for celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity is a real thing. What are some signs? Headaches, digestive issues such as stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea constipation and bloating, as well as peripheral neuropathy, and many more. Some may say you don’t need to give up gluten if you don’t have celiac disease, but if you feel better avoiding gluten then why not avoid it? No person needs “gluten” in their diet, in fact we as humans lack the necessary enzymes to fully break down the gluten protein. I have heard the argument that gluten free is very unhealthy. I absolutely disagree, if it’s done in a whole foods way with nutrient dense foods. Think lots of vegetables! This way you can still get needed vitamins, minerals and fiber needed. Now, if you just eat the gluten free version of junk food, yes, that is still junk food and, yes, very unhealthy. But the Standard American Diet (known as “SAD”) is extremely unhealthy too. It’s not a gluten free diet (or vegan, or whatever your dietary preferences/necessities are) that is healthy or unhealthy, it’s how you implement these diets in your daily life. Why do I think someone might benefit from a gluten free diet? Gluten can be a big trigger for chronic illnesses and inflammation for many. If you have an autoimmune disease, gluten could be a player in the disease pathology because it contributes to “leaky gut” and drives systemic inflammation in a great number of those with autoimmune diseases. Leaky gut is part of the trifecta creating the perfect storm for autoimmunity. The trifecta being genetics, environmental factors (think toxins we’re exposed to, and food sensitivities, what we eat, and the general environment we live in), and leaky gut.

2) Dairy: Outside of lactose, which many are familiar with because of hearing about lactose intolerance, there are two proteins in dairy that some may also have difficulty with. These proteins are casein and whey. You’re probably familiar with whey with all of the protein powders out on the market touted as must haves by a lot in the fitness world. Casein is a lesser-known protein in dairy that some cannot properly digest. What are some signs of a dairy sensitivity? That can range from mild to severe, from skin itchiness to digestive issues. Not everyone needs to give up dairy, cooking with butter and ghee, and adding cheeses to foods brings a good source of protein and calcium with are very important to bone and muscle health. And not to mention flavor and satiety. There is also A2 milks and cheeses that have a different form of casein and some have found that helpful. You will need to tune in to your body and how it feels after everything you eat and drink when it comes to diary. Try goat milk and cheeses, or A2 versions if traditional dairy is troublesome. This is another one of those things to experiment with if you have chronic illness. Just listen to your body, your body will let you know if dairy is problematic for you. There are some milk alternatives, however be aware of gums and other additives. Making your own milk alternative is pretty easy too. I included some links for dairy free milk recipes at the end of the blog. If you do choose to go dairy free, be mindful of your daily intake of calcium by eating plenty of calcium rich foods like broccoli, kale, sunflower seeds, white beans, chia seeds, and more. This could be a topic for another blog post, but if you don’t get enough sunlight, our bodies can’t make enough of our own vitamin D. As a result, it is also important to get enough vitamin D3 along with K2 so your body will properly absorb and use calcium.

3) Sugar: While yes, we absolutely need carbohydrates in our diet, these should come in the form of some fruits and lots of vegetables. If you have a sweet tooth and eat a lot of sugar, you could be driving systemic inflammation. This could mean that you experience joint pain (hello, that’s me!) and even heart and cardiovascular system troubles. Makes you think twice before having the second cookie? Well, I hope so. One of the reasons why sugar drives inflammation and exacerbates chronic illness is that sugar feeds the bad gut bacteria, the pathogenic gut bugs that can cause all sorts or digestive struggles like bloating, diarrhea, gassiness, and more. This can also lead to dysbiosis, an imbalance of good and bad gut flora, and SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth). Too much sugar can also lead to insulin resistance and diabetes where the pancreas can’t keep up with the demand for insulin. Our cells need carbohydrates for energy. The issue is when our blood is chronically saturated with sugar, and insulin to help take care of that excess sugar, and our cells begin to lose the sensitivity to insulin. As a result, more is needed to get the job done. This is known as insulin resistance and is the precursor to Type II Diabetes. I hope you this shows you how important proper blood sugar regulation is to health and managing inflammation. If this wasn’t bad enough, sugar in our blood stream is very inflammatory to our arteries and is a leading cause of heart disease. Nope, it’s not cholesterol, that’s another blog. Doesn’t make sense? Look at it this way. Let’s say you skin your knee. As a wound starts to heal, a scab forms.  This is a normal part of the healing process. In that healing process, a sticky feeling is present prior to the scab. Well, sugar is like scratching area of skin until it starts to have that same sticky feeling. The difference here is that it’s happening inside our arteries. My challenge to you, friends, is to look at the amount of sugar in the products you buy. You would be amazed at how much sugar is added to processed foods. I’ll share a quick story from a few years ago. My husband gave up refined sugar for Lent a few years ago. He was so surprised at how many items had added sugar, and how many were where you wouldn’t necessarily think about. It’s in way more than sodas, cakes, cookies and candy. This is why I recommend a whole foods diet (whether omnivorous, vegetarian or vegan, pescatarian) and encourage my clients to cut way back, or even ditch all together, ultra-processed foods. Treats are one thing, but the high sugar/ultra-processed foods as a staple in our diets is making us sick.

To reiterate, not everyone has to eliminate gluten and dairy, but they are two things you can experiment with if you have signs for inflammation and/or chronic illness such as autoimmune diseases, cancer, diabetes, and more. Sugar is definitely something to keep an eye on in our diets as well since so much of our illnesses of today are heavily due to sugar and blood sugar imbalance. My goal with this blog is to educate on the importance of tuning into our bodies and listening to what our bodies are trying to tell us in order to raise awareness of potential contributors to our current health woes. I hope you found this helpful!

**As promised, here are some links for some dairy free milk recipes I’ve found.  I myself have tried the coconut milk and cashew milk and liked both.

Rich & Creamy Hazelnut Milk (and other non-dairy milk recipes) – The Nourishing Gourmet

Homemade Non-Dairy Coconut Milk Recipe – Jackie UnFiltered

What Are The Healthiest Non-Dairy Milks To Drink? (

In health,

Bridget Sloane, NTP

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and the information in this post is not meant to be taken as medical advice.  Please speak to your medical professional if you have medical concerns.


3 Possible Dairy Sensitivity Symptoms. Retrieved from Dairy Sensitivity Symptoms | Signs of Dairy Sensitivity | Everlywell

Calcium-Rich Foods that Vegans Can Eat. retrieved from 18 non-dairy calcium-rich foods (

DiNicolantonio and James.H. O’Keefe. November 29, 2017. Retrieved from Added sugars drive coronary heart disease via insulin resistance and hyperinsulinaemia: a new paradigm – PMC (

Leaky Gut Syndrome/ Retrieved from Leaky Gut Syndrome: Symptoms, Diet, Tests & Treatment (