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The Inflammation Spectrum: Find Your Food Triggers and Reset Your System

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From the international bestselling author of Ketotarian comes a revolutionary new plan to discover the foods your unique body loves, hates, and needs to feel great.

In Dr. Will Cole's game-changing new book, readers will discover how inflammation is at the core of most common health woes. What's more, it exists on a continuum: from mild symptoms such as weight gain and fatigue on one end, to hormone imbalance and autoimmune conditions on the other. How you feel is being influenced by every meal. Every food you eat is either feeding inflammation or fighting it. Because no one else is you, the foods that work well for someone else may not be right for your body. At heart, The Inflammation Spectrum is about learning to love your body enough to nourish it with delicious, healing foods. You'll find insightful quizzes and empowering advice to put you on a path toward food freedom and overall healing, once and for all.

336 pages, Hardcover

First published October 15, 2019

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Will Cole

38 books43 followers

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5 stars
368 (24%)
4 stars
492 (32%)
3 stars
433 (28%)
2 stars
134 (8%)
1 star
74 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 82 reviews
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 28 books5,607 followers
August 27, 2021
It's not you, it's me.

I am willing to bet that if I cut out every inflammatory food listed here (or Elimin8ed it, as Cole says), I would feel amazing. If I ate sweet potato roasted with turmeric and blueberries for breakfast and drank a smoothie made out of things I have never heard and can't pronounce for lunch, it would really help with my arthritis and my digestive issues.

Unfortunately, the spirit is not willing and the flesh is indeed weak.

I was very interested in the quizzes about symptoms, and about the foods that cause inflammation, and I'm going to take a lot of those out of my diet, to see if they help. But I hesitate to go that extreme and for that amount of time (he recommends eight weeks of the full Elimin8 diet). The FODMAPS diet for IBS isn't half that restrictive, and they tell you not to do it for more than three weeks, because you'll become malnourished. Basically, Cole's method is to go keto (without calling it that), and make up for some of the nutrients with smoothies made of supplements and powders that sound like chemistry experiments.

Also, it's not until the end of the book where he says, if you're still having a hard time, you MIGHT want to see a "medical practitioner." If you suspect (or have been diagnosed) with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes . . . you should definitely see a DOCTOR. Please do not stop taking medications prescribed by your doctor because you've decided that someone in a book whom you have never met knows better!

I have a diagnosis, I have some medication, I have information from my doctor. I thought I would look into this as well, to help with some of my symptoms. I'm hoping that cutting out some of the most egregious offenders will help with some of my joint pain and gut issues. But I just don't think it's wise for me, or feasible for a busy mom of three, to live on powdered supplements mixed with hemp milk for several months.

Profile Image for Julie.
1,906 reviews38 followers
July 20, 2020
I opened this book at random and read, "Resolve to eat only when you feel calm." This is great advice, that I know from personal experience. My worst cases of indigestion and/or overeating are caused by eating while intoxicated by my emotions.

The next thing I read was about being present while eating. The author writes, "Notice everything about the experience." Also, good advice. I think of it as 'owning' the experience, acknowledging the meal and savoring it. I am more likely to feel satiated than when I gobble something on the run, hardly noticing it's texture and flavor.

Anyway, I think I should now go back and read it from the beginning, now that my curiosity is piqued and my appetite whetted.
Profile Image for Leanne.
4 reviews2 followers
December 21, 2019
I tore through this since I'm working with a GI, FNP and a nutritionist and have been put on an anti-inflammatory diet about a month and a half ago and have been seeing positive results. (I didn't know he was a contributor to GOOP and I didn't know that Gwynneth (sp?) reviewed this book - otherwise I'd probably have taken a hard pass on this).

Overall what he says mirrors what my nutritionist and my FNP have told me and the first tier diet (4 wk) matches what I've been doing - I appreciated the tests at the beginning since my practitioners know what questions to ask but if you would have asked me what negative symptoms I have been experiencing I was woefully ignorant on -- honestly I just thought everyone feels like me and this was just my life - blerg.

I haven't reintroduced any foods back in yet (I have a few more months of the anti-candida diet to wrap up first) so I don't have anything to compare to his recommendations but at first blush none of it seems out of the ordinary.

Also, I did like how he slowly removed items from your diet over the first week or so. I also am a huge proponent of the meal plans he instructs you to put together (to be successful in any of this is you have to meal plan and feed yourself well). I also enjoyed his weekly self care plans - this is a pretty supportive plan and I dig it.
50 reviews17 followers
July 4, 2020
My girlfriend has a long history of skin conditions, so we decided to give this book a go. The 8 week diet is a bit more restrictive than whole 30 (it excludes nuts and nightshades as well), however it was interesting to discover than I certainly have intolerances to nuts.
The program we did was for 8 weeks, although there is one for 4 if you have less symptoms of inflammation.
I loved the results. As per usual the first week of the diet was hard, however the clarity of thought, the lack of food crashes and digestive problems for me were phenomenal. Even now as I reintroduce other things I am much more aware of how I feel after eating. I think I have finally broken free from any attachment to processed foods.
It does require a lot of food prep (fortunately I had a lot of time to prepare food as we began during the start of COVID- which also helped as we had no family/friend/restaurant events), however if you have the time, some commitment, I would highly recommend.
You would be surprised at how many food habits you can break and what foods are causing your health issues.
Profile Image for Laura.
9 reviews
February 16, 2020
I found this book effective in teaching me more about inflammation, the foods I should and shouldn’t be eating as well as inflammatory habits that I need to work on correcting. I am choosing at the moment not to pursue the elimination diet. I am choosing instead to take what I’ve learned and applying it where I can. Dr. Cole gives you a lot of information to work with that I plan to take with me as I figure out what is the best path to healing for me.
Profile Image for Julie L.
174 reviews1 follower
February 19, 2020
Good book, great information, easily laid out. The Elimin8 track is basically the Paleo Autoimmune Diet.

This book is a great alternative to Sarah Ballantynes Paleo Approach, as it presents a highly abbreviated version of the same info. This is WAY more accessible.

I haven't tried the recipes yet.

Good book! Could save a lot of people's health!
Profile Image for AZ Book Guy.
122 reviews12 followers
February 27, 2023
The term bio-individual was a first for me, but the author stresses that each individual has unique stressors, triggers, sensitivities and intolerances so there’s no “one size fits all” prescription.
This was a free Audible listen so a physical book would have proved more of an accessible resource, and perhaps a higher rating. Started slow with little evidence cited and the narrator didn’t come across as genuine, but my biggest takeaway is awareness. Lots of topics mentioned on a high level but bottom line is I’m now bringing a renewed awareness to my food choices.
Profile Image for Caitlin.
47 reviews
November 15, 2020
I really wanted to like this because it seemed cool....but it was uncomfortably anti-science. I got a lot of the points and could see where he was coming from, but rather than qualifying his claims he just kept making wild accusations (diet has an affect on many things, but I'm not too sure autism is one of them). And while I'm all for conspiracy theories and anti-big pharma, very few people can afford to just stop taking their medications in the name of a wholistic diet. Sorry.
Profile Image for Ashley Knight.
69 reviews
May 19, 2021
I really love how Dr. Cole mentions things other than foods causing inflammation. I’ve certainly had many foods cause inflammation in my body but have realized after an autoimmune diagnosis what stress can do. He presents clear tracks with attainable goals that will help people live a fuller life. I had started on my path to meditation and moving more while also cutting out PUFA’s before reading this but this was great to keep me going and motivated to keep do it all. 🙌🏼😊
Profile Image for Patrick.
59 reviews
July 22, 2022
Sound, detailed guidelines for anyone wanting to adopt a low inflammation diet and lifestyle.
Profile Image for Kate.
882 reviews15 followers
August 31, 2020
This book is very informative! It takes a holistic approach to curing inflammation in the body, which can be due to issues in various parts of the body. Food, herbs, and supplements are used to decrease inflammation, as opposed to medications, and elimination diet is employed to help determine which foods are healthy for you and do not cause inflammation since it can vary so much from person to person. I enjoyed reading about all of the diverse inflammation areas, though they did not all apply to me. Some of the information was not new as I already take some supplements to naturally treat anxiety and depression. I was happy to see them listed in the book though as I know first-hand that they are effective and can help tremendously.

There is an abundance of recipes, meal plans, and food lists to help the reader know what to eat, even if they must go on the most extreme elimination diet in the book. This helps keep the diet fresh and bearable while taking out the work of having to research and plan it yourself.

I especially loved how the author spends time focusing on how our mindset and activities impact inflammation as well. He includes positive mantras, activities and other suggestions to help decrease inflammation holistically.
January 18, 2023
Very informative book! The inflammation quizzes were super helpful. Although, I didn’t prefer the audio. The voice was a little grating.
Profile Image for Paola Peinado.
17 reviews2 followers
June 23, 2020
What I loved most about this book was the idea of bioindividuality that we all have. This type of books often 'sell' a certain diet as the perfect one for any human being but it is true that we are unique and our bodies do not respond the same way. This book is a good test that you can do to discover your uniqueness in terms of nutrition. However, I missed more scientific and nutritional information about some of the foods that were mentioned in the book. And specially, how scientifically proven are the different stages of inflammation that are proposed in the book. Why having some of those symptoms (specially the weakest) and not others are related with inflammation? But overall, it was an interesting book to read.
Profile Image for Natalie Yuhas.
94 reviews3 followers
September 15, 2020
No concrete star review until I do the either 4 or 8 week process once I'm back in Boston, but I really enjoyed this. The Inflammation Spectrum is what Whole 30 wants to be (or, rather, SHOULD be). It first explains the role of inflammation in the body and how diet and lifestyle can either fuel or fix inflammation. Will Cole talks about how lab testing cannot possibly catch all sensitivities/intolerances that can lead to chronic pain, fatigue, GI problems, and potentially auto immune diseases every single time, and traditional approaches focus on prescription drugs to treat symptoms rather than causes. What I really liked about this book is the emphasis on bio individuality, or that what works for one person might not work for another person, and it's all about listening to your body when it tries to talk to you. He provides a quiz on "symptoms" in the beginning of the book that better categorizes where you may have inflammation in your body and then sets out a course of action based on the results. Another aspect I really enjoyed is how holistic his approach is; it's about more than eliminating certain foods for a period of time. He includes exercise, meditation/prayer, supplements, and other lifestyle changes or habits (such as limiting screen time, getting together with friends, and going for a walk in a wooded park) that contribute to easing racing minds and inflammation. I thought it was very cool of him to include a section on having a belief system or some sort of spirituality! That is often overlooked in science. Finally, his re-introduction plan at the end of the 4 or 8 weeks is incredibly detailed and pinpoints timeframe, amount, and what to look for in your body.

I was introduced to Will Cole by a nutritionist, and I'm excited to test this out and see if I can figure out what food(s)/habits are causing some of my suspected food sensitivities/intolerances, besides gluten obviously. That ship has very much sailed, lol.
Profile Image for Annie.
800 reviews835 followers
November 6, 2021
I give this book 3.5 stars but rounded it to 4 stars. This book is similar to many books about eating whole foods. If this topic is new to you, then this book would be helpful. Essentially, cut out grains (pasta, rice, and bread), dairy (milk, cheese, and yogurt), added sweeteners, and inflammatory oils (trans fats, margarine, corn oil, and canola oil) for 4 weeks. If you know or suspect you're sensitive to certain foods, cut those out as well for a total of 8 weeks. Some common food allergies include eggs, nuts and seeds, alcohol, caffeine, and nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, and chili peppers). Then introduce the foods back into your diet one at a time, three days apart. The only things left to eat are fruits and vegetables and if you know you're not sensitive to them, lean meats and fish.
Profile Image for Maxwell.
61 reviews1 follower
January 26, 2022
there's a lot of problems with this (especially the bad "science") but this book's main problem is dogshit writing. it reads like a 300 page wikihow article with somehow less nuance. almost all of this book is literally just listing types of foods and the parts that don't do this are completely surface level. worthless. this book also loves to give you "mantras" while it struggles to walk you through a simple elimination diet and these "mantras" amount to essentially "i am so smart i am so cool i am sexy i am strong" over and over again. he either justifies this as important to fight inflammation in general or for achieving whatever step of this bullshit he happens to be on
Profile Image for Book.
106 reviews
February 13, 2020
It is not often that I run into a comprehensive AND flexible, thorough AND interesting book with health information I have not been exposed to before. I highly recommend it to everyone. Yes, everyone!
Profile Image for Roy Madrid.
118 reviews1 follower
July 4, 2021
TBD fire when I finish the core8 plan!

Very well laid out book though! I feel excited and empowered with the knowledge shared and how seamlessly it was learned. Highly recommend for anybody think of a new diet or living a healthier life in general.
10 reviews
June 6, 2022
While this book included some positive, helpful tips, it also reeked of a certain very popular brand of pseudo-science that advocates essential oils as the end all be all and included plenty of ableist, harmful rhetoric implicating inflammation as being at the heart of autism, ADHD, and numerous other disorders - and making some throwaway comments about how increases in autism and ADHD diagnoses are tragedies. Rough. Found a few nuggets of good stuff among the trash, so 1.5 stars rounded up.
Profile Image for Diane.
2,024 reviews5 followers
August 27, 2021
Inflammation, seems to be a hot topic these days when people talk about health issues. How we feel, especially as we age, seems to be a product of not only our stress levels and getting enough sleep but also how our bodies and our immune systems react to the different foods and drinks we consume. Different foods can be a friend to one individual but a foe to other people.

The book discusses symptoms of food intolerance such as: bloating, runny nose, joint and muscle pain, fatigue and IBS.

There is a quiz that asks you to answer questions and depending on how you answer and what your point values are in the following categories: 1) brain & nervous system assessment, digestive system assessment, detox system, blood sugar, hormonal system, musculoskeletal system and autoimmune inflammation. Depending on how you answer the questions you will get an idea as to which are your trigger areas. (For me it was digestive, musculoskeletal and autoimmune inflation).

The next part was the cleanse, either 4-weeks or 8-weeks depending on your assessment. This was the part that was quite overwhelming for me. The Elim-4 has you eliminating: all grains, all forms of dairy, all sweeteners and sugars and all inflammatory oils such as: corn, vegetable, canola and sunflower. While the Elim. 8 includes the 4 just mentioned as well as: legumes, nuts and seeds, eggs, and nightshades: tomatoes, white and yellow potatoes, eggplant and all peppers.

There is of course a focus list of acceptable foods and beverages during this period as well as some recipes which sound quite decent.

For me, I can't imagine doing the complete 8 - program (just too extreme) but, this book did give me a better idea of what my areas of concern are, especially when I combine this information with what gathered from another book: Eat Right 4 Your Type, by Dr. Peter J. D'Adamo which I read and reviewed in 2020.
December 6, 2022
This book gives an in-depth but understandable description of how inflammation affects the body and what factors can contribute to it—not just in diet, but in our lifestyle. I like the author's empathetic and individualized approach to improving health; he acknowledges that people's bodies are different and that foods that may be very good for one person can be very bad for another, and vice versa. He offers tips on how to reduce inflammatory behaviors and make a lasting lifestyle change, rather than just putting yourself on a “diet.” I followed the plan in this book, and within just a few weeks, my sleep had improved, I was thinking more clearly, and my emotions were much more even-keeled. It helped me to connect with my body on a deeper level than I have before. I would recommend this book, or any similar plan, to pretty much everyone in my life.
Profile Image for Kelly L..
219 reviews
January 25, 2021
Not sure whether to give this 2 or 3 stars. I found the book informative, in the way many books are on inflammation. My problem with the book was the organization. For someone planning to try to eliminate certain foods from their diet, it would help to restructure the book a bit. This is The Whole 30 on steroids! It's a 60 day elimination with more foods to eliminate. Daunting! But informative. It makes good sense to cut sugar, alcohol, gluten, and perhaps even dairy. The jury is still out for me on some of the other things that are suggested here. Like everything, read with an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out. Do what you need to do to be healthy, but don't get so anxious about it you become unhealthy.
Profile Image for Kimberly Keniley-Ashbrook.
29 reviews1 follower
January 13, 2020
Purchased this book after listening to Will Cole on a Goop podcast. There is A LOT of info here, including A LOT of supplement recommendations. Still, once you get past all the recommendations, it's a solid guide for adjusting your diet and lifestyle to reduce immflamuation- and then figure out what you should keep out of your diet for good. However, I feel like I need a visit w/ a functional medicine practitioner before I do a deep dive into all the supplements/ teas/ diet suggestions. Bonus points for included recipes. I'm not sure that the diet/ health changes in the book would have resonated as much if I didn't listen to the Goop podcast first.
Profile Image for Amanda Barstow.
35 reviews
April 9, 2021
I appreciated the information about specific histamines that could be causing inflammation; I have dairy and gluten intolerances so a lot of the information presented in the book wasn’t new to me; highly recommend for anyone struggling with brain fog, swollen face/joints in the morning, adult acne, symptoms of depression that may stem from nutrition- if you don’t know where to start this is the book for you. If you have advanced knowledge on nutrition I don’t know if this book provides new information.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
227 reviews3 followers
March 13, 2022
This book has some great information to help navigate food sensitivities and do identify the best diet (that is what you eat every day; I'm not talking about "going on a diet") for you.

Because I didn't follow the elimination diet paths included in the book, I will not give this a rating.

"Eating food that nourishes your health isn't deprivation. It's one of your most profound freedoms." So true.
Profile Image for Renata Stuhlberger.
45 reviews3 followers
February 12, 2020
This is literally food for thought. Interesting insights about food and inflammation, and other inflammation habits that we have in our day to day. I am not sure I would pursue the program, though.

I don’t rate this book with 3 stars because of that, but because I thought this book was a bit repetitive and poorly written at some points.
21 reviews2 followers
February 18, 2020
Excellent. Heard about this book from the Goop podcast. I was impressed by the author and his book is organized well and exceedingly helpful. The quiz to customize the plan is easy to interpret and there are individualized components based on your area of focus. There is just the right amount of science, examples, strategies for success, and humor. I highly recommend it.
November 16, 2021
Notes on what I learned from this book.
1. Night shades vegetables like bell peppers, squash, tomatoes are INFLAMMATORY vegetables.
2. Eliminate food one by one, taking 3 days to observe your body reaction.
Profile Image for Marnie Brandt.
54 reviews
October 27, 2022
This book is complete and utter quackery. I’m pretty disappointed in the MD who recommended the book to me.

To start with, the Notes section is thin, and many bold and sweeping statements throughout the book such as “every single one of these health problems is inflammatory in nature” and “every bite of food you eat is either feeding health or fighting it” left my rolling my eyes and noting “citation needed.”

Most elimination diets last from 3-6 weeks. There’s little evidence that they actually do much. There’s even been some investigation into whether they actually cause food sensitivities/allergies. This guy is a functional medicine doctor (nowhere near the training of an MD) and his diet is basically every elimination diet rolled into one. He also gives you toolboxes full of remedies - good luck finding any research that shows that they actually work. So (for now) he recommends you eat nothing but animal protein, particular vegetables and particular fruits. Literally nothing else. He does not mention any research into the efficacy of elimination diets or his particular brand of them. He also gives no contraindications. (Btw - most other materials you will find about elimination diets at the very least mention that they’re not a great option for those with a history of disordered eating.) For all of his slamming of the one-size-fits all conventional medical model, his book is identical. An elimination diet is the cure for every medical issue and is appropriate for everyone.

He claims he’s customizing the approach to you uniquely because you take a little quiz to determine your path… but there are still only two paths after taking it - to eliminate four foods or eight. I think the quiz is rigged too. I have three medical diagnoses and got a very high score. I then had my very thin and healthy friend with no medical conditions take it. Guess what? Same high score. So I’m curious if anyone ever gets recommended to only eliminate the four foods. (Oh and when he says four foods, no, these are whole families of foods, not individual foods.)

There’s also a list of inflammatory habits you must eliminate such as sitting, staring at screens, using “toxic” household products, soaps and makeup, being negative, being anxious, eating emotionally, not having friends and my favorite, not having a higher purpose.

The author is pretty irresponsible with mental health topics. According to him, constant negative thoughts and anxiety are “bad habits” and you should just stop them by detaching and watching your thoughts like they’re happening to someone else. Therapy is not recommended for anxiety or depression. Just stop it. Very helpful. But if you can’t conquer eating emotionally (perhaps because you’ve been on an uber restricting diet consuming nothing but fruit, veggies and animal protein for 8+ weeks), then you should see a therapist for your runaway emotions.

By the end of the book, the “doctor” reveals that some of the eliminated foods are foods he does intend for your to eliminate permanently despite all the “(for now)”s when he was asking you to eliminate them. Also, in his opinion, it’s totally cool to NEVER reintegrate any eliminated foods if you don’t want to or are now afraid to because the diet of animal protein, fruit and veggies is totally
complete and sufficient for you forever. (Oh but do start over when you backslide and your symptoms come back, totally expected!)

There also a fabulous section near the end where if you’ve done all his dieting and it doesn’t work, he recommends to try removing three extra groups of foods, and then if that doesn’t work go to his website and give him money to help you personally.

I was hoping to find help in this book. Instead, I hate-finished it long after I knew I was not going to try this.
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