Fill up on healthy fats
“Don’t be afraid of fat!” stresses Malone, who says it’s essential for brain health and vitamin absorption. (And it’s been found to help you live longer, too.) “The percentage can be as much as 50 percent of your diet, as long as it’s the right kind of fat.” Of course, most people can’t stomach that much of it, so the author suggests consuming at least some healthy fats with every meal in a way that works for you—like having avocado with eggs, or adding coconut oil to your breakfast smoothie.
One thing to be cautious about: your ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats. “At one point in history, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in our diet was one-to-one,” she says. “Now, it’s estimated to be 15-to-one. It’s that skewed ratio that causes the inflammation issue, not total fat in your diet.”
First, be sure to eliminate processed, omega-6-heavy vegetable oils—canola, corn, soy, and peanut—as well as margarines and animal fats from corn-fed animals. (Don’t go too crazy on the avocado, seeds, nuts, or olive oil either—although they’re definitely good fats, they’re part of the omega-6 fam.) Then, balance out the ratio by adding in inflammation-busting omega-3’s through things like fish, cod liver or algae oil, chia seeds, and flax seeds.
Ditch sugar and dairy
Along with gluten, corn, and soy, dairy and sugar are the final foods that Malone recommends cutting out to curb inflammation. That’s because dairy contains a protein called casein that, she says, is hard to digest in a similar way to gluten—and as for sugar, you probably don’t need a reminder why it’s bad.
“At the very least, avoid pasteurized cow’s milk—and if you are going to drink milk, I would go for the raw, full-fat kind. That’s where you get the active enzymes, live active cultures, soluble vitamins, and the good fats.”
Again, even if you don’t think you’re sensitive to any of the “Big Four” triggers, Malone says you might be surprised about how you feel when you give them up. “I don’t think people even realize how crappy they feel,” she says. “There are so many things that we accept as being a normal part of life—like anxiety, skin issues, or constantly feeling tired—and we get used to them. But when you do take these things out, you’re surprised by how good you feel.” In Malone’s case, it caused her pain to disappear within weeks—totally worth ditching the pizza and soy lattes for, right?
Eliminating inflammatory foods doesn’t have to be a drag—it can even be delicious. Here’s how to swap fruits and veggies for your bread and pasta, make a delish dairy-free chocolate “ice cream,” and whip up a vegan falafel pizza (!).