By making simple changes to the way we eat, we can greatly reduce the inflammatory state that our bodies are in and move more toward a life of vitality.
Inflammation is our body’s natural physiological response to trauma and is classified as either acute or chronic:
- ACUTE inflammation may last from a few minutes to a few days and include redness, itching, and/or swelling.
- CHRONIC inflammation is long-term and lasts several months to several years. This leads to allergies, autoimmune disorders – such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and celiac disease – cancer, and more.
Acute inflammation could occur from accidentally hitting your shin on a coffee table. It may turn red, swell, and eventually bruise. But what if we continued to hit our shin in the same place 3 times a day? The inflammation would never subside. This is essentially what we are doing to the inside of our bodies with the daily food choices we make.
By fueling our bodies with proper food, we can activate our body’s natural healing mechanism and heal ourselves from within.
How can I tell if I am being impacted by chronic inflammation?
- Do you struggle with mood disorders such as anxiety, depression, PMS, memory loss, etc.?
- Do you have trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep?
- Do you have frequent stomach pain such as gas, nausea, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea?
- Do you suffer from brain fog, fatigue, or loss of libido?
- Do you have red, itchy, and/or dry skin?
- Do you have bone, joint, and/or muscle pain?
- Do you suffer from chronic allergies?
- Are you chronically stressed?
If you answered yes to ANY of these questions, there is a good chance that inflammation is taking a toll on your body. What can you do about it? Let’s talk about how we can reduce inflammation from within through proper nutrition.
TOP FOODS TO AVOID AND WHY:
- Fried Food – Fried foods are cooked in vegetable oils high in omega 6 fatty acids. To keep inflammation at bay we need a healthy ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids in our diets. As humans, we evolved with an omega 6 to omega 3 ratios of 1:1. Today, western diets show ratios ranging between 15:1 – 17:1
- Sugar – Today, sugar is found in just about every processed food, from tomato sauce to yogurt. You have to be aware of the ingredients that are in the food you are consuming. Watch out for hidden names of sugar, which include: corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, raw sugar, sucrose, sugar syrup, cane crystals, cane sugar, crystalline fructose, evaporated cane juice, corn syrup solids, malt syrup, and more.
- Trans Fats – Trans Fats, also known as hydrogenated oils, have no place in the diet. This chemically-made fat damages the lining of the blood vessels, increases LDL cholesterol, decreases HDL cholesterol, and significantly increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease – America’s number one killer.
- Processed Meat – A meat is processed if it has been salted, cured, or chemically preserved. Nitrates are added to processed meat to extend shelf life and enhance color. Examples include salami, sausage, bacon, and deli meat. According to a com article, “A 2015 study from the World Health Organizaiton found that every daily portion (about 2 ounces) of processed meat raises colorectal cancer risk by 18%.”
- Alcohol – Alcohol impedes white blood cells from migrating to sites of current inflammation in the body, slowing your healing process and adding to chronic inflammation.
- Refined Grains – Highly refined grains have the bran and germ removed, which is the fiber and vitamin portions of the grain. Fiber is what slows the blood sugar spike. When grains are refined into flour they act like sugar in the system, causing inflammation.
For a complete list of inflammatory foods to avoid, refer to this list found here.
TOP FOODS TO REDUCE INFLAMMATION AND WHY:
- Leafy-Green Vegetables – No one will argue the benefits of leafy-green vegetables such as spinach, romaine lettuce, arugula, and more. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that fight disease. They also add a healthy dose of fiber and water that stabilizes blood sugar and keeps our stomachs full.
- Cruciferous Vegetables – Veggies such as broccoli, kale, Brussel sprouts, and cauliflower provide anti-inflammatory benefits that are proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases.
- Berries – These bright colored fruits are packed with a class of antioxidants called flavonoids, which are known to reduce inflammation within our cells.
- Nuts and Seeds – These include raw, unsalted nuts and seeds such as walnuts, brazil nuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. They provide us with magnesium, selenium, vitamin E, and alpha linolenic acid (ALA) – a type of omega 3 fat that limits inflammation within the blood stream. Nuts and seeds are known for helping people who suffer from arthritis.
- Flax Seed – Flax Seed is one of the richest plant-based sources of ALA. This superfood is proven to help reduce LDL cholesterol and reduce incidence of diabetes. Ground flaxseed is easier for your body to digest and better utilize the ALA.
- Turmeric – Turmeric contains a powerful antioxidant called curcumin, which is known for its anti-inflammatory effects specifically related to arthritis.
To get the best anti-inflammatory result from your diet, aim for a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables. A simple trick is to fill half of your plate with these colorful and nutritious foods. Keep in mind that not one food alone will prevent inflammation, but rather a combination of foods with nutrients working in concert with one another. Make sure to mix-up the variety and the combination will turn on our body’s natural healing process and minimize our chronic inflammation.
The power is in our hands to prevent and reverse inflammation and heal ourselves from within to live a life of vitality.