Anti-Inflammatory and Elimination Diet

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You can find several versions of Anti-Inflammatory and Elimination diets in books and online. This is a strict version that can be followed fully or partially. For best results, follow the diet in its strictest form.

  1. An Anti-Inflammatory Diet is for those with pain from any cause, as well as obviously inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. Reducing inflammation will make almost any degenerative condition better, including osteoporosis, diabetes and coronary artery disease.
  2. An Elimination Diet is a diet designed to detect an individual’s food allergies. It restricts all of the top food allergens. When followed strictly for at least 28 days and followed by the Allergy Challenge (see later page) for reintroducing foods in a controlled manner, it’s highly reliable.
  3. This diet also serves as a healing diet for anyone with fatigue, arthritis, overweight, chronic digestive system and bowel problems, headaches, or reactions to chemicals or other environmental substances.

To follow a softer version of the diet, reduce your intake of one or more of the Avoid/Eliminate foods rather than eliminating them altogether.

The diet is usually well-tolerated. People often report improvement in sleep, energy, mental clarity, mood stability, muscle recovery, weight and skin appearance. However, some people experience headaches, irritability, achiness, fatigue and foggy thinking, especially in the first several days. There are two main reasons for this:

  1. The carbohydrate level is too low. As glutenous grains, legumes and milk are eliminated, be sure to replace them with non-glutenous grains, non-grain starches and perhaps fruits to get enough carbohydrate for normal energy and blood sugar, and to prevent unwanted weight loss. Even a small portion of a balanced mix of carbohydrate, protein and healthy fat every 2½ to 3 hours will help stabilize blood sugar.
  2. You’re having detoxification reactions. This diet causes faster-than-usual cleansing. Toxins can be moved into the bloodstream and lymph faster than the skin, liver, kidneys and lungs can process and release them. And suddenly-reduced sugar intake can cause massive die-off of any parasites, yeast or bacteria, leading to even more toxins released into the system for clearing. To slow detox, limit foods gradually. To speed removal of wastes, drink extra water and get slightly or moderately extra salt. If negative symptoms persist or at any time your symptoms exceed reasonable tolerance, discontinue the diet and contact me.

Components of the Diet – Strict Version

  1. Eliminate all dairy except ghee (clarified butter) or grass-fed butter. Avoid milk, buttermilk, cream, all cheeses, yogurt, ice cream and regular butter. Avoid casein (a milk protein) in ingredient lists. Don’t use margarine or store-bought mayonnaise. On a less-strict version of the diet, a good compromise would be to use whey, a dairy product that’s very low in casein.
  2. Eliminate grain-fed red meats: beef, pork and veal. Select grass-fed or grass-finished meats only. Free-range chicken and turkey, lamb and coldwater fish such as salmon, mackerel and halibut are acceptable (if you’re not allergic or intolerant). Choose wild seafood whenever possible.
  3. For discovering allergies, avoid all eggs. For reducing inflammation, avoid egg yolks. Egg yolks contain arachidonic acid, which is inflammatory. Egg whites do not.
  4. Eliminate gluten. Avoid any foods that contain gluten. See page 4 for Glutenous and Non-glutenous Grains. Note that corn is a non-glutenous grain, but it’s not allowed on this diet since it’s one of the top 7 food allergens. For an even stricter version, eliminate all grains and focus on non-grain starches.
  5. Eliminate all soy including soy oil, soy milk and all soy-based dairy substitutes, tofu, soynuts and soynut butter, soy protein isolates and powders, tempeh, miso, soy sauce and edamame. Avoid soy of any kind as an ingredient.
  6. Avoid alcoholic beverages and all sodas. Drink only organic coffees, teas and herbal teas. Limit caffeinated beverages to 1-2 cups a day. Avoid coffee substitutes made from glutenous grains and herbal teas with citrus.
  7. Avoid all nuts and seeds and “butters” from these. Avoid peanuts, which are actually a legume.
  8. Avoid foods containing yeast (yeasted breads) and the sugar that promotes yeast overgrowth: white or brown sugar, raw sugar, honey, agave, corn syrup, maple syrup, fruit or other syrups, and molasses. Avoid all sugar substitutes. Small amounts of plain stevia (no added ingredients) are okay.
  9. Avoid partially hydrogenated/trans fats as much as possible. Read ingredient labels. Avoid all non-canned shelf foods that contain any fat, since these contain hydrogenated fats even when the label says they don’t (this is legal). Examples are crackers, chips, breads, tortillas, etc. This applies to organic foods, too.
  10. If you have any joint or spinal pain, avoid foods and ingredients from the Nightshade family: tomatoes, all potatoes except sweet potatoes and American yams, eggplant, all sweet peppers (green, red, yellow, etc.), and hot peppers (chili, cayenne), paprika and pimento. Cayenne pepper is a Nightshade; black pepper isn’t. Turmeric is an exception; it’s the only nightshade that is anti-inflammatory, so it’s okay to use. Tobacco is also a nightshade. If you’re smoking or chewing and can’t quit now, do the rest of the diet. You’ll still receive great benefit.
  11. If bowels are inflamed or you have excessive bowel gas or bloating, avoid all gas-producing vegetables (iceberg and romaine lettuces, sweet peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, peas, cucumbers, onions, artichokes) and all raw vegetables of any kind. Eat cooked vegetables but not undercooked and crunchy or overcooked and mushy.
  12. Drink 6 to 10 cups of water daily, preferably filtered. The amount depends on your height and weight, how much you sweat and how much salt you eat. Drink most of it between meals, beginning before breakfast.
  13. This diet can lead to lowered blood sodium, not always a good thing. Unless you know that salt raises your blood pressure above normal (this isn’t true for everyone), salt your foods regularly to taste with a healthy sea salt.

Foods to Include and Foods to Avoid

Food CategoryAllowedAvoid
Meat, Fish, PoultryFree-range chicken & turkey, lamb Grass-fed beef & pork Cold-water fish such as salmon, halibut, mackerel, troutGrain-fed beef & pork, bacon, caged chicken & turkey, jerky, lunch meats Shellfish, lake/stream fish except trout
LegumesGreen peasSoy & all other legumes except green peas
EggsEgg whites if using the diet only to reduce inflammationEgg yolks; egg whites if allergic
Dairy Products & SubstitutesMilk substitutes such as rice, hemp, and coconut, grass-fed butterAnimal milks, soy milk, nut milks, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, cream, ice cream regular butter, non-dairy creamers
Grains, Breads & CerealsAll non-glutenous grains,† oats if gluten-free and you're not allergic (see comments on oats, page 4)All glutenous grains, corn, corn starch, oats if not gluten-free (see comments on oats, page 4)
Non-Grain StarchesSweet potatoes, yams, all winter squashes, peas, other root veggiesPotatoes (Russet, white, yellow, etc.)*
VegetablesAll vegetables, preferably fresh, frozen or freshly juiced; herbsCreamed or made with prohibited ingredients, eggplant*, peppers*
FruitsUnsweetened, fresh, freshly juiced, or water-pack canned, excluding citrus & strawberriesFruit drinks, ades, cocktails, citrus, strawberries, dried fruits preserved with sulfur, tomatoes*
SoupsVegetable- or chicken-based broths and homemade soups, any made with allowed ingredients onlyCanned or creamed soups, any with glutenous flours
BeveragesFreshly prepared or unsweetened fruit or vegetable juice, pure water,
non-citrus herbal teas, one cup organic coffee or tea per day
Milk, dairy-based products, all other coffee and tea, Postum, cocoa, sodas, alcoholic beverages, citrus juice or sweetened beverages
Fats & OilsCold- or expeller-pressed oils, preferably organic, such as: olive, coconut, safflower, sunflower, sesame, cod liver, & flax Soy oil, canola unless organic, or salad dressings made with these All hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated and heat-damaged oils
Nuts, Seeds & Nut or Seed ButtersNonePeanuts, cashews, all tree nuts Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds All nut and seed butters
SweetenersRaw honey in small amounts Stevia in small amountsWhite, brown or raw sugars, syrups, pasteurized honey, molasses, all sugar alcohols and non-caloric sweeteners
CondimentsLow-temp-dried or sun-dried sea salts Apple cider vinegar, homemade mayonnaise, mustardAll other salts, soy sauce, commercial mayonnaises, ketchup
TobaccoNone*All smoking and chewing tobacco

Additional Resources

These additional handouts are helpful in implementing the Anti-Inflammatory and Elimination Diet.  All 4 are included in the text of this handout, and each can be downloaded as a stand-alone handout.