Help Your Members Combat Inflammation, Using Food as Medicine

It is important that club operators, nutritionists, personal trainers and other club staff members know how inflammation relates to the gut. The following is some information that can help you when a client complains of inflammation—and perhaps help you when you experience similar problems.

Oh, inflammation. It is a hot topic these days, no pun intended. The truth is that everyone has inflammation—it is when inflammation becomes chronic that it creates a problem for people. When inflammatory responders will not shut off, people may experience pain, swelling, redness, heat—all signaling the immune system to get to work.

Acute inflammation, which fluctuates as needed, is the sign of a well-balanced immune system. Remember, roughly 70 percent of a person's immune system resides in the gut, making the health of a person's "second brain" an important factor for cooling inflammation and keeping a body in balance.

It is important that club operators, nutritionists, personal trainers or other club staff members know how inflammation relates to the gut, so they can help members experiencing inflammation—and perhaps help themselves, too.

Belly bloat, frequent diarrhea or constipation, cramping, gas and heartburn are all signs of an inflamed digestive tract. Our immune system was designed to eliminate viruses and bacteria in the food we eat before they affect our body, so it is not surprising that our digestive tract is the first area affected when something is not right. It is our (highly intelligent) body's way of saying, "Hey there, listen up! I'm trying to tell you something!" There are always warning signs, which more often than not are ignored or pushed to the side. This creates more severe consequences in the long run.

Our digestive system always is working hard for us. These days, it has to work harder since wehave evolved from a simple, seasonal, real-food way of eating to opting for convenience and fast food, which affects our metabolism and gastro-intestinal tract in a negative way, leaving the deck stacked in inflammation's favor.

Our modern diet has too much sugar and simple carbs, high levels of hybridized wheat, pasteurized dairy and other common allergens, not to mention GMOs and an imbalance of actual nutrients. These are important factors when considering all that is needed for our bodies to thrive.

Our bodies were not designed to handle the amount of toxins, chemicals and stress that we take in daily. This intake creates a lot of extra work for our immune system (and in turn, extra work for our gut). Unless we are aware and honoring our body's signals, our fast-paced lifestyle rarely leaves us the space required to cultivate that important balance. By focusing on all aspects, such as what we eat, drink, think and feel, we are contributing to a pro- or anti-inflammatory lifestyle.

The truth is most people are leaning toward inflammation. So what should your members—and you—do?

Eliminate the two biggest culprits linked to inflammation (and disease):

  • Gluten/wheat
  • Pasteurized dairy 

Eliminate or decrease your consumption of these pro-inflammatory foods:

  • Corn (huge GMO crop)
  • Soy (huge GMO crop)
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Nightshades – peppers, potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes
  • Processed foods
  • Sugar

Increase anti-inflammatory foods (See a recipe for an anti-inflammatory smoothie recipe at the end of this article.):

  • Dark leafy greens—spinach, kale, collards, Swiss chard, romaine
  • Omega 3s—wild caught (fatty) fish, ground flaxseeds, raw walnuts
  • Dark berries—blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries
  • Spices—cinnamon, tumeric and ginger
  • Onions and garlic
  • Healthy fats—avocado, coconut oil, ghee, grass-fed butter, raw nuts, olive oil
  • Non-gluten containing grains (if tolerated)—quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, buckwheat, millet

Swap these foods:

  • Instead of bread, use greens such as romaine or collards to wrap your sandwich goodies in
  • Instead of pasta, try zucchini "noodles" or spaghetti squash
  • Instead of yogurt/cheese, try making cashew cream or using coconut or almond milk with berries and chia seeds (chia seeds will thicken the liquid to give it more of a pudding-like consistency)
  • Instead of caffeine, drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water daily. (This goes for everyone as a rule of thumb.)
  • Try alternatives such as Teeccino. This is a coffee alternative, totally caffeine-free, but with the taste of coffee. It has a sort of placebo effect.
  • Dandy Blend. It is a mix of dandelion, beetroot and chicory.
  • If you want decaf instead, choose a Swiss water-processed decaf. The caffeine is removed without the use of toxic solvents.
  • Another coffee alternative is Crio Bru, which may be purchased online.
  • Ditch the sugar-laden store-bought creamers and instead try the homemade cashew cream recipe offered at the end of this article.

Side note: If your clients have given up gluten but drink coffee and still experience symptoms related to gluten intolerance (headaches, bloat, gas, fatigue, etc.), the cause may be something called molecular mimicry. This is when the structure of two foods is so similar that the body cannot differentiate the two, causing the same effects in the body. Gluten and coffee fall into this category.

The bottom line: People have the power to reduce inflammation, and what we put into our mouths is a great place to start. Make sure your clients know that using simple steps each day to create balance and harmony in our bodies will pay off in the end. Remind them that it is about consistency and discipline, as well as honoring our needs (80 percent) vs. wants (20 percent) when it comes to long-term health.

Two Recipes

Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie Recipe

  • 1 cup frozen or fresh pineapple chunks
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • ½ inch fresh ginger root, peeled (or ½ tsp. ground ginger powder)
  • 1 ½ cups pure coconut water
  • ½ inch fresh turmeric root (or ½ tsp. ground turmeric powder)
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ avocado
  • 1 tbsp. ground flaxseeds
  • Ice

Blend and enjoy!

Optional: Top with 1 tbsp. raw, local, organic bee pollen, 1 tbsp. shelled hemp seeds or 1 tbsp. chia seeds.

Cashew Cream Recipe

  • 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews soaked overnight and at minimum three hours 
  • 1 can light coconut milk (Do not get the full-fat regular for this recipe, as it hardens when you refrigerate it, and it cools down the drink too much.)
  • Optional: Add a few drops of flavored or plain liquid stevia for sweetness.

Combine ingredients in a high-speed blender. It should mix together and become a cream within 30 seconds. However, if you are using a regular blender, it may be a little chunkier, and you may need to blend for a few minutes.


Sheree Trask is a certified holistic health and lifestyle coach, and the founder of Lemons & Laughter – Positively Appealing Holistic Healing. She received her training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where she was trained in more than 100 dietary theories and studied a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. Trask helps her valued clients create a completely personalized roadmap to health that suits each unique body, lifestyle, preferences and goals. She offers one-on-one personal coaching, group programs and corporate wellness, as well as personalized programs based on her clients' needs. She can be reached at or (858) 531-2785.

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