Diets to Help Reduce Inflammation and Digestive Issues

There are a whole lot of people suffering with gut/digestive issues, and simply don’t know what to do to solve them. So I thought it would be a good idea to address some of the ways you can help with digestive issues you may be plagued with (bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, pain).

Saying that, I am a big proponent of using an Elimination Diet first, before heading onto a really restrictive diet (excluding the elimination diet). You should first determine what it is that is causing your digestive problems, then find out how to address them. Using an Elimination Diet is one of the best ways to find out what is causing your symptoms and attack them head-on.

Using an Elimination Diet simply removes all foods that are known to cause issues. The one I went on five years ago helped me determine what foods were causing me GERD problems, but also addressed allergy issues I wasn’t aware of (another serious cause of digestive issues). One thing I found out right away was that when I did the reintroduction phase it really opened my eyes as to what had been causing me so many issues for many years.

If you or someone you know suffers with any kind of digestive issues like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), Crones disease, Leaky Gut, GERD, ulcers, autoimmune diseases or any of the many others, you should talk with your health care team to determine what to do. If they do not suggest doing an elimination diet, discuss it with them and see if it might help settle on a solution. An elimination diet is a very natural way to help overcome those issues without adding pharmaceuticals into the picture that may, in fact, make the issue worse. Definitely stay away from proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s – like Zantac as they have their own set of side effects that can lead to heart problems).

An elimination diet will be very restrictive for a few weeks, at which point you can start to reintroduce foods, one at a time, to see how your body reacts. It can be a very long process depending on how many food issues you may have, but is well worth the time to find out. You should keep a food journal to keep track of things while doing the diet and record your symptoms once you start to reintroduce foods. Note that symptoms can take up to a week to show themselves, so be patient with yourself while doing this. If inflammation is your major concern, then you will notice a reduction in the inflammatory process fairly quickly. Also, I’ve noticed that foods that I “should not” eat force my body to react fairly rapidly as well. So if it’s inflammation that’s the issue, for me I notice the next day in my joints.

GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) /SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) – was created by Dr. Sydney Valentine Haas in 1920 to help treat chronic inflammatory conditions of the digestive tract naturally. Grains, starchy vegetables and refined carbohydrates are all eliminated from the diet and replaced with nutrient-dense foods (see list) that are easy to digest.

  • Beef and chicken liver
  • Leafy green vegetables (like kale, collard greens, spinach, bok choy, cabbage and romaine lettuce)
  • Red, yellow, green and orange bell peppers
  • Broccoli, cauliflower and other cruciferous veggies like cabbage or Brussels sprouts
  • Artichokes
  • Carrots and parsnips
  • Asparagus
  • Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and other berries
  • Tomatoes (if tolerated)
  • Mushrooms
  • Sea vegetables
  • Just about any other unprocessed plant food

Dr. Axe has a very good article on the GAPS diet here or you can check out the GAP web site here.

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols and the FODMAP diet is used as a short term solution to digestive issues such as bloating, gas and stomach pain which is often triggered by certain foods. Foods that should be avoided if FODMAPS are an issue are:

The main dietary sources of the four groups of FODMAPs include:

  • Oligosaccharides: Wheat, rye, legumes and various fruits and vegetables, such as garlic and onions.
  • Disaccharides: Milk, yogurt and soft cheese. Lactose is the main carb.
  • Monosaccharides: Various fruit including figs and mangoes, and sweeteners such as honey and agave nectar. Fructose is the main carb.
  • Polyols: Certain fruits and vegetables including blackberries and lychee, as well as some low-calorie sweeteners like those in sugar-free gum.

Low Lectins Diet to help heal the gut. Dr. Steven Gundry (former heart surgeon) developed this diet to help those who suffer with problems with digestion when leaky gut is involved (which is most of the time). Lectins have also been identified as problems for those with autoimmune diseases, celiac disease, diabetes, and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Foods to avoid: legumes, such as beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts. squash. nightshade vegetables, such as eggplant, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes. some fruits, grains, dairy, corn and corn fed meats.

Take it easy with Raw Fruits and Vegetables if you have gut issues, says Chris Kresser, because raw fruits and vegetables are more difficult to digest due to the insoluble fiber. Eat more soluble fiber foods to help with digestion and only eat one or two at a meal rather than doing something like a stir fry! These lists show what to avoid and what to eat:

Vegetables that are high in insoluble fiber include:

  • Greens (spinach, lettuce, kale, mesclun, collards, arugula, watercress, etc.)
  • Whole peas, snow peas, snap peas, pea pods
  • Green beans
  • Kernel corn
  • Bell peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Celery
  • Onions, shallots, leeks, scallions, garlic
  • Cabbage, bok choy, Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
The vegetables that are high in soluble fiber, but lower in insoluble fiber (and thus tend to be safer for those with gut issues) include:
  • Carrots
  • Winter squash
  • Summer squash (especially peeled)
  • Starchy tubers (yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes)
  • Turnips
  • Rutabagas
  • Parsnips
  • Beets
  • Plantains
  • Taro
  • Yuca

Paleo diet – a lot of people turn their nose at this diet protocol, but for me it has been a life saver. Yes, there are no grains, dairy, nuts/seeds, soy, or refined sugars, but it has done wonders for me. It may not be for everyone, but, once again, use the elimination diet to help with your determination. The form of Paleo that I follow is actually the AIP (Autoimmune Paleo Protocol) that reduces things a bit more in that I also cannot eat Nightshade vegetables (potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, any form of peppers) as they also cause an inflammatory response.

The Ketogenic (Keto) Diet is one that has been around for a very long time but is getting a lot of attention these days. It is a diet that is low-carb, high fat (no industrial fats like corn oil, vegetable, oil, or soy oil) and is very good to help with weight loss and brain health. It is also a protocol that should not be used for an extended amount of time as it could cause some digestive issues of its own.

If you, or anyone you know is having any digestive issues, I hope this information will help. Please talk with your health care team first before attempting to go on a special diet of any kind.

Wishing you a fantastic day and week ahead.