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Healthy Living
August 7, 2023

Do Tomatoes Cause Inflammation? 9 Food Myths, Debunked

Do tomatoes actually trigger inflammation? Are eggs inflammatory? Unravel the misconceptions about the health impacts of 9 different foods.
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Written by
Taylor Foster
Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Danielle Desroche

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Making healthy food choices can be difficult with so much conflicting information and opinions out there to research, especially if you have a chronic illness. So, do tomatoes really cause inflammation? Are eggs inflammatory? In this article, we are going to clear up some of the misconceptions you may have around your dietary choices by debunking 9 common food myths.

1. Myth: Tomatoes Cause Inflammation

Tomatoes are members of the nightshade family, which also includes eggplants, white potatoes, and peppers. Some spices are part of the nightshade family as well, including cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper, chili pepper, and paprika. Though it is not uncommon to have an allergy or sensitivity to tomatoes, research has shown they don’t actually cause inflammation — in fact, quite the opposite.

This popular food gets a bad rap, especially among those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, due to a belief that tomatoes increase inflammation and joint pain. The truth, though, is that tomatoes are rich in nutrients and antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate, as well as being a great source of lycopene — all of which may reduce and inhibit inflammatory activity.

This versatile fruit found in so many dishes may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer, while improving blood sugar regulation and the health of your microbiome. Unless you have an intolerance or allergy to this fruit or to nightshade plants in general, tomatoes and tomato products could be a great addition to an anti-inflammatory diet. (Source, Source, Source)

do tomatoes cause inflammation?

2. Myth: Organic Produce Is More Nutritious

Organic produce is farmed without the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and must meet U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic guidelines. We know fruits and vegetables are nutrient-dense sources of vitamins and minerals, but does it truly matter if you buy organic versus conventionally grown produce?

Research shows the benefits of consuming organic produce over conventional include reducing your toxic exposure to pesticides and insecticides. Although this may be beneficial to your overall health, it doesn’t necessarily mean organic produce is more nutritious for you. Produce, whether conventional or organic, provides good sources of vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoids, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron. Research into whether organic foods contain higher levels of these nutrients than non-organic foods has yielded mixed results, and while it’s often said organic foods are more nutritious, solid evidence for this is lacking. (Source, Source)

The non-profit Environmental Working Group gathers data from the USDA and the FDA to publish its annual Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which includes its popular list of the Dirty Dozen foods it considers to be best purchased organically, as well as the Clean 15 it considers safe to eat when grown conventionally. Whether you buy organic or not is a personal choice, but you may find this kind of data-driven information helpful.

3. Myth: Dairy Promotes Poor Gut Health

There is a lot of skepticism around dairy and whether it is beneficial for overall gut health, but whether dairy is good for your gut or not is a very personal matter. Dairy products such as cheese, milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese are high in calcium, vitamin D, and are a decent source of protein. Fermented dairy such as kefir and sour cream may contribute to a healthier microbiome.

For some, dairy does not cause any gastrointestinal issues, but for others that just isn’t the case. If you are lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy in general, you may suffer from constipation, diarrhea, bloating, or sinus issues that could be linked to poor digestive health from dairy consumption. A negative response to dairy could promote poor gut bacteria, resulting in chronic inflammation of the gut lining. If you have symptoms that you suspect are from dairy consumption, remove dairy from your diet and see if they clear up. If you tolerate dairy well it may play a role in a healthy microbiome and promote strains of beneficial bacteria — it all depends on your individual response, really. (Source, Source)

avocado halves

4. All Fat Is Bad

There has been a lot of talk around fats in years past, and a lot of misinformation about whether fats are beneficial to your health. The truest statement about this controversial topic is that fats are a necessary part of a balanced diet, but not all fats are created equal. We have trans fats, saturated fats, and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — but how to know which fats to consume and which to avoid?

Fats are actually an important part of your diet to support healthy hormones, maintain healthy cholesterol levels, and create energy. Consuming the right fats is important to help your body absorb vitamins A, D, and E, as well as make essential fatty acids such as omega-3s and omega-6s, which your body can’t produce on its own. Eating a balanced amount of fat has health benefits, as long as you avoid trans fats — these hydrogenated fats can cause more harm than good. (Source, Source)

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5. Eggs Are inflammatory

Eggs are a staple breakfast option for many, but could they potentially cause inflammation in your body? In recent years, there has been a growing concern about the inflammatory properties of eggs because they contain arachidonic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid that is pro-inflammatory but also serves a number of vital roles in the body. Research has shown that some arachidonic acid metabolites are actually anti-inflammatory — in short, arachidonic acid’s effects on health are more complex than simple labels such as pro- or anti-inflammatory. (Source)

However, it's important to note that the inflammatory effect of eggs may vary from person to person and could also depend on various factors such as lifestyle, diet, and overall health. While eggs may not be off-limits for everyone, it might be worth considering more anti-inflammatory breakfast alternatives for those with pre-existing inflammatory conditions or food sensitivities. (Source, Source

6. Eating Healthy Is Expensive

When it comes to eating healthy, many people believe it comes with a hefty price tag. However, this notion may not be entirely true. While organic and locally sourced foods may be more expensive than processed and packaged foods, there are still affordable options available.

Incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet can be a cost-effective way to eat healthier, and can be made possible by buying seasonal produce at your grocery store or local farmer’s market. Frozen organic vegetables are also a cost-effective nutritious and flavor-packed option or addition to fresh produce as well.

Buying products in bulk or on sale, sticking to your grocery list, and planning ahead makes eating a whole foods diet more manageable financially. With a little bit of research and creativity, cooking at home and meal planning, it is possible to eat healthy without breaking the bank, and even to save money in the long run. (Source)

white bowl of pickled carrots, cabbage and radish

7. Fermented Foods Are Good for Your Gut

Fermented foods have been gaining popularity in recent years, and for good reason. These foods undergo a natural fermentation process that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, in the gut. This can result in improved digestion and a stronger immune system. However, it's important to note that not everyone will benefit from fermented foods. Individuals with certain health conditions, such as SIBO, Candida overgrowth, or histamine intolerance, may find fermented foods aggravate their symptoms. As with any dietary change, it's important to listen to your body and consult with a health care professional before adding fermented foods to your diet. (Source, Source)

8. Breakfast Is the Most Important Meal of the Day

Breakfast has long been touted as the most important meal of the day. After all, it jumpstarts your metabolism and provides you with the energy you need to power through the morning. But while there's certainly some truth to this idea, it's worth noting that there's no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of whether breakfast is really the most important meal.

Ultimately, it all comes down to your individual needs, preferences, and lifestyle. Some people find that skipping breakfast actually helps them feel more alert and focused throughout the day. However, research has shown that those who eat breakfast function better cognitively and may even have a lower risk of developing heart disease. While some simply can't function without a hearty breakfast to kickstart their mornings, ultimately it all comes down to listening to your body and doing what works best for you. (Source)

9. Juicing Is Good for You

Juicing has become increasingly popular among health enthusiasts as a quick and easy way to get your daily dose of fruits and vegetables. However, is it really as healthy as it seems? While juicing can provide a quick and convenient way to consume essential vitamins and other nutrients, it also strips away important fiber content that our bodies need to maintain a healthy digestive system.

Additionally, many store-bought juices include added sugars and artificial ingredients. To get the most bang for your buck when it comes to juicing, it's best to stick to whole fruits and vegetables and consider incorporating the pulp back into your juice for added fiber. As with any diet or health trend, it's important to approach juicing with a balanced and informed perspective. (Source)

The Bottom Line

There’s a lot of misleading and confusing information around food and dietary choices out there, and it can be hard to know what the best choices are for your health needs. If you are feeling misled, or are not sure how to improve your health with a food first approach, the Nutritional Therapy Practitioners at WellTheory can help! With a personalized approach and gentle guidance and education, our WellTheory membership can take the guesswork out of your diet.

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Do Tomatoes Cause Inflammation? 9 Food Myths, Debunked

Do tomatoes actually trigger inflammation? Are eggs inflammatory? Unravel the misconceptions about the health impacts of 9 different foods.
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Do Tomatoes Cause Inflammation? 9 Food Myths, Debunked

Do tomatoes actually trigger inflammation? Are eggs inflammatory? Unravel the misconceptions about the health impacts of 9 different foods.
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