The Inflammation Pyramid

I was doing some thinking the other day, considering the subject of my next blog post, and was trying to imagine how it would be possible to summarize my diet in one, simple graphic, purely in terms of inflammation rather than the actual foods that I eat. That’s when I came up with the “Inflammation Pyramid”. 


This is of course based on the traditional food pyramids that one sees all the time except that this one is based on food types and their inflammatory effect. Hence for me, dairy is clearly the big one (greatest area of the pyramid) followed by carbs, all industrial seed oils and “potentially” anything else non-essential. That means that there could still be something (largely innocuous) out there that I haven’t eaten yet, that potentially could cause me some inflammation. My entire nutrition is based around this pyramid such that anything at the base (dairy in this case) should largely be avoided altogether. This is of course my personal pyramid. For other people I would expect carbs to maybe be at the base with dairy further towards the top or maybe missing altogether. It is therefore down to the individual themselves to determine exactly what foodstuffs causes them the greatest inflammation and place them in the correct pecking order in the pyramid.

What do you think? Is this a good idea/ concept? I look forward to your comments and perhaps also seeing your own “Inflammation Pyramids” 😉

15 thoughts on “The Inflammation Pyramid

  1. Hi NIck,

    First, congratulations on your achievements and I have been enjoying the blog since I came across the post on Diet Doctor a few weeks back.

    Interesting post concerning inflammation. You mention in the post and other posts on your site that dairy really does not agree with you. Just curious to know what issues you experience when you consume dairy and what tests (if any) you did to identify / confirm that dairy is not for you?

    I am a diabetic, I have been eating a LCHF diet which has helped me massively to control my BG levels. I do consume dairy (mainly cheese, unsweetened yogurt, butter and some cream 1 or 2 times per week) and I have some dry skin areas around my knuckles on my right hand which I believe may be psoriasis and I do wonder if my dairy consumption has something to do with this. I guess one way to test this is to do an elimination diet, but I would be interested to know what you did around testing for dairy intolerance.

    Also, what is your take on coffee? Sorry if you have discussed these areas on other previous posts.


    • Hi Eddie!

      Thanks so much for your kind words. After all this time it’s nice to know that someone out there is finally reading my posts 😉

      Re dairy, I had absolutely no idea whatsoever that I had a dairy problem until I tried to lose weight, see here: As I state there, I very nearly gave up altogether, thinking that this LCHF thing was a load of old toss! I had literally tried dropping all sorts to lose weight & meticulously recorded EVERYTHING I did. Finally, there was just one last thing to do, drop the dairy and BINGO, the weight just flew off and I never looked back!
      See here:
      After nearly 4 yrs, I have never really touched dairy again. I don’t miss it and clearly neither does my body. My lifelong hay-fever has all but disappeared, together with excessive sweating & my waist immediately crashed to 95cm. After inadvertently dropping ALL industrial seed oils last summer (see archives..), it dropped a further 5 cm to 90cm where it has remained ever since (ON NO EXERCISE!). Hence the pyramid layout..

      One of the first changes I noticed after going LIHF was my skin. It’s now as smooth as the baby’s proverbial 😉 Since your psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, I would say that it is highly likely that dairy is having an effect here but there’s only one sure way to find out! So my advice is drop ALL and I mean ALL dairy and see how you go, whilst meticulously recording everything else that you eat at the same time. It’s a bit of a pain but it’s worth it IMO. There is NOTHING essential in dairy that can’t be sourced elsewhere and if you are REALLY concerned about things like calcium then just supplement as I do, see archives.

      Coffee is a good one and is on my “to do” list 😉 Generally, I take fresh filtered coffee in the mornings only, with several cups of tea during the rest of the day. However, this summer I’ve been socializing at cafe’s a bit more than usual and so my coffee intake has been slightly higher this summer. At home, we ALWAYS use Arabica coffee. Why? Coz it is grown “high & dry” with less chance of oxidative fungal growth in the beans. There are “issues” with coffee that I am still looking into e.g. I know DDoctor dropped coffee or at least reduced his intake considerably recently, the exact reasons for which I’m not entirely aware of but I will find out 😉 For now at least, coffee is flagged as potentially “having issues” pending further research. Hence, I intend to minimize my intake until I have something more concrete to go on. Stay tuned for more.. 😉

      I hope this helps? Feel free to hit me up with any further questions, either as a comment or direct email via the contact page. I wish you luck and be sure to keep us all updated with your progress!



      P.S. Our daughter has much greater skin symptoms than me, including the dry knuckles & back of hands you talk about:
      P.P.S I was using some ghee until last summer but that has now also been dropped entirely..

    • Eddie thank you for posting this. I also occasionally get the same – a dry skin area around knuckle between ring and little finger on my right hand. Further I get red patches of skin on the tops of my arms and wonder if this is diet/dairy related. I really need to bite the bullet and go cold turkey, bit daunting though!

    • I know this post is 5 years old, but I found it today and wanted to share my experience. I’m pretty fit, 180cm, 70kg and around 15%bf. I go gym 5 days a week and have been low carb for almost 4 years now. I also have psoriasis.

      Over the past few weeks, I started introducing whey isolate protein into my diet to help with my fitness goals…. and my flareups are coming back like they used to. I don’t drink milk, eat cheese or any other dairy food either.

      There is definitely something up with milk based proteins, and I’m noticing since I started using whey my psoriasis has gotten worse. Glad to have read your story!

  2. First, I love the focus on inflammation (LIHF). A lot of folks don’t know that is so important. Your pyramid is interesting. For me, carbs, processed foods and sugars make the base of my pyramid (all 3 go hand in hand in my view). Next up, fruit — i do love fruit but it doesn’t love me back. Except for berries (as a rare treat). Next up, the vegetable and seed oils. Dairy is interesting. Right now it isn’t on my pyramid but it’s the one food that I’ve consistently reduced as I regained my health over the last 4+ years. I’m planning on going without for 30 days and slowly adding it back in. Just need to see if its in fact my Achilles and belongs on my inflammation pyramid.

  3. Interesting. I have been lchf/keto two years and feel awesome. I do use diary and want to believe that it is less inflammatory in me, as my skin has cleared up on keto (suffered from adult acne) and chronic sinusitis cleared up too. I live my heavy cream and cheese, so I am reluctant to give it up. Although I am quite certain my “last 5 kg” would disappear were I to give up diary. 😉

    I just found your blog and am enjoying it and your twitters. Great work!

    • Thanks Aino, I appreciate your support!

      Yes, your “extra 5kg” would probably fly off if you dropped all dairy and this is my point: For most people, even within the LCHF community, dropping dairy is a step “too far”, even if they know it’s causing them problems. It’s almost a taboo subject! We are having an open debate about carbs, etc so why can’t we also include dairy!? I suspect people don’t yet realize that inflammation is the REAL problem here, WHATEVER it is that’s causing it!

      • Absolutely! I totally agree – I think there should always be space for open debate on all subjects within LCHF, and this is one of the areas indeed. Just like protein. We should try to stay clear of dogmas… we know what dogmas can lead to…. 😉
        Speaking as a medical pathologist AND ketogenic enthusiast, inflammation is an important driver for disease and I don’t think we all half of it yet.

        • Haha! You took the words right out of my mouth. Yes, I’m beginning to see some dogmas, even dare I say it “fanaticism” creeping into the LCHF community and it worries me somewhat.. As you say, dogma got us into this mess in the first place. After coming this far, we should not fall into the very same trap once again..

  4. Alright, Alright… I’ve seen you banging on about no dairy on twitter recently so I’ve decided to cut it out! 🙂
    Up until now I’ve lost upwards of 70lb which has been great, the last 3 weeks I seem to have plateaued, and I’ve been playing around with various things to try and kick it back into gear. Really upped the exercise as well.
    I’ll have to say goodbye to my beloved cheese & butter, I’ve never drunk Milk so that’s not a hardship. The wife will be horrified when I start cooking with Lard, she thought butter was bad enough!

    • haha! well, if you’ve dropped all other inflammatory stuff this is the only thing left, right? Nothing to lose, all to gain! I wish you luck and if this works (which I suspect it will) be sure to send us a b4 & after!

  5. Hi Nick

    Thanks for the interesting and helpful article. I am only recently starting to dabble with LCHF and inflammation keeps cropping up. You’re right about the individuality of inflammation presentation in relation to different foods. I know a GP who has frequently suffered with successive chest infections for a number of years, which a pear to have vanished after quite recently cutting out dairy. For me, my skin is not the best with a bit of redness on the top of my arms and a bit of dry skin, at just doesn’t feel as good as it did. I’ve put it down to lack of exercise, sunlight & water and too many environmental and dietary pollutants and caffeine (I also still eat processed food, not at every meal but nearly every day). Although diary feels slightly unnatural and when I warm up milk it doesn’t taste nice (which tells me something) I don’t think I had fully considered the affect dairy could be having on inflammation in my body.

    Thank you once again. I will try to follow your posts and analyse and regulate my diet more closely.


    • Hi Kirsty,

      Thanks for your insights..
      It would appear that the case against dairy is building all the time! Good luck with LCHF and, as you correctly say, always keep your eye on the REAL target: LOW INFLAMMATION!

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