Updated: Mar 24
Trying to live a normal life with a digestive disorder can seem impossible. Everything you eat seems to cause problems. Is there a way to enjoy life without the bloating, headaches, and heartburn? Let me assure you, there is, but you must be careful and strategic about what you eat and how you combine those foods. Let’s talk about some of the biggest offenders and some ways to replace them or mitigate their affects.
Top Inflammatory Foods To Avoid And Why:
Gluten: Glutenous crops such as wheat have been heavily genetically modified and hybridized over the years. This has also made them very hard to digest as the body has trouble recognizing the proteins as food. Wheat is also heavily sprayed with the herbicide glyphosate. This chemical has been listed by the World Health Organization as a probable carcinogen and is also known to cause gut permeability. Glyphosate has also been shown to kill the beneficial microbes Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. (3)(5)
Dairy: Most people can’t properly digest dairy weather they realize it or not. Most dairy products are pasteurized, destroying the enzyme that would help us digest it, thus putting a strain on our digestive systems. In addition, many people are lacking in their own digestive enzymes – particularly lactase which helps digest dairy. Dairy also contains a protein (A1 protein) that stimulates mucus production in the gut.
Processed Oils: Such as corn, safflower, and soybean oils. These oils are refined and often made from genetically modified crops. This makes these oils high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids which need to be balanced with sufficient omega 3’s.
Soy: Many people are unknowingly sensitive to soy. This may be because processed soy products are so common in processed food. Again, soy is a common GMO crop, which may mean that the proteins are harder for the body to recognize. Also, it is not normal for the body to be exposed to a food repeatedly over time. You don’t eat broccoli everyday for breakfast, lunch, dinners, and snacks do you? I didn’t think so! Yet, if you eat a heavily processed diet, you are likely over-exposing yourself to soy.
Corn: The issues with corn are basically the same as for soy. It is a GMO crop, and often processed into vegetable oils found in many packaged foods. The Bt-toxin produced by genetically modified corn kills insects by punching holes in their digestive tracts, and a 2012 study confirmed that it punctures holes in human cells as well. (6)
Yeast: Baker’s yeast and brewer’s yeast feed candida which is an unhealthy yeast naturally found in small amounts in the body. Overconsumption of foods that feed this yeast leads to dysbiosis or and overgrowth of bad bacteria in relation to good bacteria (probiotics).
Sugar: Refined sugar is a powerful trigger of the body’s inflammatory response. Watch out for it in packaged food labelled glucose or fructose — any word ending in “ose” is another term for sugar. Fear not! There are many natural substitutes for sugar like honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar.
Alcohol: There are multiple ways in which alcohol contribute to intestinal inflammation. It’s consumption alters the microbiome, increases the permeability of the intestinal lining and interferes with digestive enzymes in the transportation of nutrients. (1)(2)
Processed Meat: Processed meats are full of salt, preservatives, and ingredients to help them hold their color. Sodium nitrate is a common one found in meats such as bacon and pepperoni. Processed meats have been listed as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization and linked to colon cancer. (7)(8)
Artificial Preservatives & Additives: Avoid food dyes and preservatives that increase shelf life in packaged and processed foods. These are not part of our natural diet and can be irritating to the gut. Stick to fresh, from-scratch or locally prepared foods. Food is supposed to spoil. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any ingredients you can’t pronounce, don’t know what they are, or are not a natural food.
Avoiding these foods may seem like a daunting task, but it is a critical, and first step to reclaiming your gut health and digestion. It is important to be gentle with yourself. Start with trying to make just one or two changes and getting used to them over time. I spent several years getting the hang of being gluten free and dairy free. I still might indulge once in a while. And when I do, I know how to prep my body for it. We are all different and respond differently to foods and supplements. Try keeping a food journal or diary to help you identify your offending foods. Keep in mind that symptoms may not arise for a few days.
Below are some tricks I use when I plan to have something I know won’t agree with me:
1. Take peppermint oil/oregano oil capsule 30 minutes before the meal, and throughout the next day before those meals. Peppermint oil helps to calm an inflamed intestine while both oils help eliminate pathogenic microbes in the gut.
2. Take digestive enzymes before meals, particularly ones formulated for gluten and dairy if that is what you plan to have.
3. Take a broad spectrum probiotic to help with the breakdown of food and assimilation of nutrients in the gut. This should be taken earlier in the day, away from peppermint/oregano oil (if using) as these oils have natural antibiotic properties.
Here is a sample 7-day meal plan that avoids all of the foods above to help get you on your way.
6. Mesnage R, Clair E, Gress S, Then C, Szekacs A, Seralini GE. Cytotoxicity on human cells of Cry1Ab and Cry1Ac Bt insecticidal toxins alone or with a glyphosate-based herbicide. J Appl Toxicol. 2013;33 (7):695-699.