If you look at the most common diseases, from diabetes and obesity to cancer and heart disease, they all have one thing in common: inflammation. That's according to Kellyann Petrucci, MS, ND, and author of the New York Times best-selling book Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Diet. Petrucci, a board-certified naturopathic physician and certified nutrition consultant, has cut certain foods out of her own diet to curb inflammation and by extension eliminate bloating, fatigue, weight gain, puffiness, brain fog, and more.
"We now know that inflammation underlies nearly every disease of aging," she writes over on Mindbodygreen. "That's why I avoid … pro-inflammatory foods, and I advise my patients to give them the thumbs-down as well." While Petrucci is basing her recommendations on what she's personally observed during her 20+ years as a clinician, keep in mind that this is just one expert's opinion, and what has worked for her and her clients may not work for you. Without further ado, find the inflammatory foods Petrucci won't touch below.
1. Sugar and artificial Sweeteners
Sugar is perhaps one of the most maligned foods in the health food industry, and for good reason: It causes weight gain, tooth decay, and ignites inflammation in the body. "When you eat sugar, it triggers the release of pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines that rev up the fire inside you," writes Kellyann. She also avoids artificial sweeteners of any kind. "A diet high in these sweeteners can lead to inflammation that puts you at risk for glucose intolerance and metabolic disease—steps on the path to diabetes," she adds.
"What's more, a new study reports that, in addition to hiking your risk for diabetes, [artificial sweeteners can increase your risk for obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease." Shop an all-natural alternative below.
2. Glutenous grains
The jury is still out when it comes to the prevalence and legitimacy of widespread gluten sensitivities, but Petrucci believes that cutting out glutenous grains can alleviate a myriad of ailments. "I speak from experience, because I’ve helped thousands of patients get better control over inflammatory diseases—ranging from arthritis to psoriasis to inflammatory bowel disease—by having them cut out foods that contain gluten," she writes. Shop the gluten-free bread below if you're planning on giving the diet a try.
3. Inflammatory seed oils
"Oils like canola, corn, sunflower, safflower, and soybean—as well as margarine and vegetable fats—are highly processed and contain an unhealthy ratio of inflammatory omega-6 to anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids," she writes. She recommends using healthy oils like avocado or olive oil instead.
In Petrucci's 20 years as a clinician, she's found that "the majority of my patients don't tolerate dairy foods well," she writes. "When they [eliminate dairy], symptoms like headaches, skin breakouts, bloating, and a stuffy nose clear up—and that tells me that their internal inflammation is dropping as well."
With that said, dairy can be irritating for some people and perfectly fine for others. She recommends cutting it out of your diet and slowly reintroducing it to see how your body reacts. If you're keen, almond milk is a great substitute for milk in coffee, cereal, smoothies, and the like.
5. Foods packaged in BPA-lined cans
"Bisphenol A, or BPA, is already linked to many scary problems ranging from birth defects to obesity," writes Petrucci. "In addition, research now links BPA to increased inflammation in post-menopausal women." Consider shopping brands that only offer their products in BPA-free packaging, like Amy's Organic below.
6. Commercial condiments
Petrucci makes her own condiments to avoid the high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, emulsifiers, and seed oils typically found in grocery store mayos, ketchups, and salad dressings. However, she will buy additive-free salsa, mustard (since most brands are fairly clean), and avocado mayo, like the kind from Primal Kitchen below.
7. Soy products
Many turn to soy products as a meat alternative, but foods like soy burgers and soy hotdogs tend to be highly processed. This processing can "lead to the formation of lysinoalanine and nitrosamines—toxins that can damage your cells, leading to inflammation," writes Kellyann. If you're vegetarian, consider tofu, tempeh, jackfruit, mushrooms, lentils, beans, and legumes instead of soy.