The word inflammation is popping up everywhere in my world lately. So much so that I feel it’s a topic that I should cover and not only tell you what it is and how it is caused but also how you can reverse it.
Let’s start with acute inflammation that’s caused by a physical injury or virus. If you break your arm the body swells up around the break to protect it. Or if you get sick your lymph nodes swell and communicate to the white blood cells it’s time to fight because there’s an invader. This type of inflammation is good as it truly protects our body.
Chronic inflammation is caused by an irritant within the body and tells your white blood cells to fight 24/7. But because there’s no real threat to fight like a virus or injury, the white blood cells end up attacking our internal organs on a daily basis, which does end up causing a real threat to our health.
The top culprits for chronic inflammation are due to environmental factors such as diet (think processed foods, fruits and vegetables treated with pesticides, and factory farmed meats) along with air quality not only outside air but also in our home and chronic stress.
First, let’s look at the typical American unbalanced diet. It consists of foods that are too high in carbs and very low protein or fats. In order to stabilize our blood sugar, we need higher protein, a nice variety of fats and lots of vegetables, some fruits, and some whole starchy carbs.
Diets consisting of highly processed foods will result in high levels of omega 6 fats. The main culprits in processed foods are vegetable oils or blends (canola, sunflower, safflower, corn, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, palm oil). Having too much omega 6 fats in the diet will raise the bad cholesterol such as LDL and lower good cholesterol such as HDL.
Food manufacturers LOVE these vegetable oils because it stabilizes the shelf life of the food. That should be your first cue to turn and run away.
Thanks to the site Thank Your Body, they broke down the process of vegetable oils quite well:
“Step 1: Find some “canola seeds.” Oh wait, they don’t exist. Canola oil is actually made from a hybrid version of the rapeseed… most likely genetically modified and heavily treated with pesticides.
Step 2: Heat the rapeseeds at unnaturally high temperatures so that they oxidize and are rancid before you ever buy them.
Step 3: Process with a petroleum solvent to extract the oils.
Step 4: Heat some more and add some acid to remove any nasty wax solids that formed during the first processing.
Step 5: Treat the oil with more chemicals to improve the color.
Step 6: Deodorize the oil to mask the horrific smell from the chemical processing.
Of course, if you want to take your vegetable oils one step further, just hydrogenated it until it becomes a solid. Now you have margarine and all its trans-fatty wonder.”
Yes, they are great for stabilizing food, but they do not stabilize in the body. The body does not recognize these types of oils as a natural source and cannot break them down or use them at all.
They do not satiate our appetite (think of devouring a bag of chips, you can’t eat just one) and leave us wanting and craving more. The oils turn into little hard LDL particles clogging up our arteries. Consuming these types of fats will lead to major inflammation in the body.
Food intolerances or sensitivities to Gluten, Dairy and Sugar are another cause for major inflammation in our body.
If you are constantly bloated, gassy, have brain fog, migraines, or exhausted there’s an excellent chance you have a food intolerance or sensitivity.
You might understand how gluten and dairy play into intolerance, but maybe you don’t understand how sugar can cause intolerance?
Let me share a story with you. Through trying to figure out why I was constantly gassy and bloated I learned I have a major intolerance to both gluten and dairy. While my symptoms lessened dramatically, I would still have some bloat and gas that I couldn’t pinpoint.
I learned of High Fodmap foods that cause irritation in the gut. The one thing the Fodmaps have in common are the natural carbohydrate aka sugars found in the food.
Once I went down the list I could pinpoint foods that didn’t agree with me. This list brought so much awareness around my digestive issues and by removing them from my diet I also removed the inflammation in my gut.
Of course, if you know of certain foods you are allergic to, then you should stay away from those as well. These foods cause an allergic reaction in your body inducing inflammation and some are life threatening.
Stress is the number one factor most of us visit the doctor. You might think, I am not stressed and that’s common as we just plow through the day without giving much thought to situations that affect us in a negative way.
Here’s how you can identify stress.
- What does your to-do list look like on a daily basis? Is it jam-packed full and you wonder how in the world you will get this all done?
- When everything on your to-do list isn’t marked off do you feel grumpy or irritated?
- When someone asks you how you are is the first word that comes out of your mouth… busy?
- Do you often have negative thoughts about yourself?
- Do you bite people’s heads off without even realizing it?
- Are you short on patience?
- Do you cry often?
- Do you lie in bed at night thinking of everything you have to do the next day?
There’s immediate stress such as hearing bad news, being in an accident, witnessing someone get hurt or running from a danger which triggers our fight or flight hormone Cortisol.
But most of our daily stress is caused from taking on too much during the day without any recovery time.
This kind of self-inflicted stress is what is landing us in the doctor’s office or hospital because our cortisol levels are constantly elevated and the fight or flight status is never turned off.
Having chronic inflammation in the body can lead to adrenal fatigue, thyroid issues, autoimmune diseases, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, allergies, asthma, and even depression.
Since all inflammation starts in the gut, it’s important to look at foods that will help heal the gut.
If we are not able to properly digest our food then we are not absorbing the nutrients such as vital protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This causes stress on the body to function and we cannot eliminate waste properly. And so the inflammation begins.
By supporting proper gut health we can begin to reduce inflammation and start to see immediate improvements in our health and digestion.
Improving Gut Health and Reversing Inflammation
First, let’s look at Prebiotics that are in our food that helps the beneficial bacteria in the gut grow:
- Raw or Cooked Onions
- Raw Garlic
- Under ripe Bananas
- Raw Jerusalem Artichokes
- Raw Chicory Root
- Raw Dandelion Greens
- Raw Leeks
Probiotics help introduce more healthy bacteria to the gut and start the healing process.
There are many fermented foods that have probiotics but it also might be necessary to also take a good supplement.
- Garden of Life Probiotic Supplement was rated #1 in 2017 by Reviews.com and also in a recent article by Health Ambition
- Sour Kraut
- Sea Vegetables such as seaweed and dulse
You should be eating or drinking fermented foods 3-5 times a week. If you are taking a probiotic supplement then you should take on a daily basis.
There are many herbs and foods that also help to reduce inflammation. Here are a few worth mentioning:
- Fish oil
- Olive oil
- Citrus Fruits
- Nuts and seeds
- Green leafy vegetables
- Bone broth – drink or use to cook with
- Water – drink half your body weight in ounces per day
By removing foods that you are intolerant to, adding in foods that help you fight inflammation, reducing daily stress levels and removing yourself from toxic environments such as toxic mold or breathing in chemicals all day, you will start to see a dramatic improvement in your health.
Food is information to the body and by giving the body the right kind of nutrients to fight inflammation the body will know exactly how to put these “superfoods” to good use.
It’s important to note to be patient with yourself through the process of removing the culprits from your diet, your brain will not understand at first but soon your body and brain will thank you!
And remember what you put into your body good or bad has a direct impact on your health!
Nutrition – it can either strengthen our immune system or break it down and lead to sickness and disease.
Most doctors will only hand you a prescription for medication and call it a day. They won’t dive deeper to finding the underlying cause.
In most cases, it’s our nutrition or the lack thereof that sends our immune system spiraling down into sickness and disease.
That’s where I come in, to help you find the underlying cause and help you improve your nutrition so that you can start living life to the fullest again!! You want to THRIVE not just survive!!
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