If you're looking to decrease inflammation or avoid causing inflammation, these are 5 foods that you should avoid: 

  1. Agave: This might crush a few souls, however, agave should not be used daily. While all-natural, agave lags behind options like pure maple or honey because it is mostly comprised of fructose - roughly 85%!! Fructose can only be metabolized by our liver cells. Glucose on the other hand (most prominently found in other natural sweeteners) can be broken down by every cell in the body. When agave is consumed routinely, it causes our liver to work harder than it needs to. This accumulation of fat in the liver can lead to inflammation which eventually impairs liver function.
  2.  Margarine. Certain companies are still touting that their margarine is “healthier” than butter when in reality, the trans fat used to make margarine is significantly more inflammatory in the long run. Trans fat is strongly linked to a decline in brain, heart and cardiovascular health. 
  3. Fatty, Feed-Lot Red Meat. If red meat is something you enjoy, it is no problem to consume in moderation alongside a plant-based diet. High quality, grass-fed, red meat is a nice source of protein and iron. However, cows that were not raised and fed humanely will produce meat that is highly inflammatory. You will find less omega 3 healthy fats and more saturated fat in this meat. This is what we mean when we say “know your farmer, know your food!” If you do not live in an area where local farm fresh meat is available, there are a variety of reputable stores online now like Butcher Box or Thrive Market.   Pro Tip: If red meat or other similar food items make you feel ill after consumption, yet it is something that you would like to eat, it is best to work to improve gut health and function instead of removing large amounts of food/food groups from your diet.
  4. Common Vegetable Oils. Many of us assume we are doing ourselves a favor when we see “vegetable” and “oil” in the same sentence. However in reality, many of these oils contain an inflammatory ratio of higher omega 6 fatty acids to lower omega 3 fatty acids. Repeat consumption of this unbalanced ratio can greatly increase our risk for disease. Avoid corn oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed and standard vegetable oil when possible.
  5. Dairy/Cheese. Multiple studies suggest that dairy rapidly alters the microorganisms residing in the gut which thereby can increase inflammation in the gastrointestinal lining. One study from the University College London states that 60% of the world’s population is unable to digest cow’s milk. Some of us struggle more with the lactose (sugar) in cow’s milk and others tend to see more of an issue with the casein and or whey (protein) in cow’s milk. If you suspect your skin issues, sinus trouble or gut disturbances may be related to dairy intake, consider strict removal for 7-10 days and monitor symptoms.