The Hidden Creep of Inflammatory Foods

As Naturopathic Doctors, we deal with a lot of chronic issues. You know–the stuff that’s been hanging around for years, such as:

  • Joint pain and muscle aches,
  • Skin problems – like acne, eczema or other inflammations.
  • Fatigue
  • IBS
  • Heartburn and other tummy troubles
  • Headaches
  • Mood problems
  • Post nasal drip

The list goes on. They’re the frustrating symptoms that aren’t always life-threatening, but they certainly affect quality of life.

Many of these symptoms can be a result of what you eat–we’ve written about this many times before:

It’s surprisingly simple, in theory. Food really is medicine, and often our patients get a food intolerance test, go on an elimination diet and feel sooo much better.

But then months or even years later, I get a visit like I had last week.

A patient I haven’t seen in a while arrives with list of problems:

  • An injury is not healing properly after months of therapy.
  • His body is aching all over.
  • Sleep is difficult, broken, and just doesn’t seem to refresh.
  • A skin problem, once under control, is starting to be a problem again.

On top of it all, he is just SO tired all the time.

Now, I know this patient. I know that he has many significant inflammatory reactions to food. His response, though, is, “I don’t understand. I haven’t changed anything. What happened?”

What happened was the slow creep of living life in North America. The diet change that was adhered to at the start is slowly becoming more and more lax. The odd intrusion of an inflammatory food every four or five days has become more like a little bit every day. As a result, the inflammation begins to accumulate and the symptoms slowly creep back in.

The solution? I remind this patient about the impact of his diet on his health. We review his food intolerance test results and discover that many of his reactive foods are getting into his diet far more frequently than thought. He resolves to change.

Four weeks later we follow up and he feels great. All of his symptoms have resolved, some within the first week.

The story here isn’t one of extremes and diet “nevers”. It’s about being aware that change–both positive and negative–is a slow process and one that isn’t always easy to spot.

Your health is a moving target, and your life is an ever-changing playing field. Sometimes, our role as doctors is to capture snapshots along the way so that, like a time-lapse video, you can see a change that might have been invisible while it was happening.