In the 80’s and 90’s it was cholesterol. A couple years ago it was gluten. Now, we have a new public enemy #1 in America…Inflammation.
Inflammation has quickly become public enemy #1 among health care practitioners. Inflammation has been around forever, but is now finally being understood was one of the leading causes of disease. Chronic inflammation can lead to everything from acne, to neurological disorders (YIKES!!). As daunting as that may sound, there are many ways to help prevent inflammation from controlling your life. All we have to do, is clean up our diets little bit, and move a little bit more.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is basically your bodies response to a negative stimulus. This stimulus could be from food, illness, infection, or damage to the bodies tissue.
It’s important to note that not all inflammation is bad….Ever sprained an ankle? As a rickety, old former athlete I know that type of inflammation all too well. Researchers have discovered that inflammation actually helps to heal damaged muscle tissue. Thats the inflammation we like!
The inflammation we don’t like is the chronic kind. The inflammation that occurs, but never completely subsides. That is the inflammation that causes the conditions I mentioned earlier.
What Causes Inflammation?
There are many causes of inflammation. Some of theses causes are highly preventable and some of them are not. Soft tissue injuries for example, is something is fairly random. I mean, unless you are constantly stumbling into walls, then its a pretty difficult to control…So we are going to focus on the things we can control the most…FOOD.
Certain foods can cause adverse reactions to the body, and can lead to inflammation. Many of these foods promote toxins in the body, which causes the immune system to constantly be under stress. Here are a couple of the big ones.
Commercially Farmed Red Meat
Its not there’s anything inherently wrong with red meat itself, its how its raised thats the problem. Commercially raised beef is fed a diet thats high in inflammatory omega-6 acids, and low on anti inflammatory omega-3 acids.
Besides that, commercially raised beef is often loaded up with hormones and anti-biotics in order to produce a bigger cow, quicker. Not exactly the stuff you want to be putting into your body.
tip: Buy grass-fed beef instead. It’s pricier, but much better for you and more humanely raised.
Refined Sugars and Carbohydrates
This one is bad news for all you junk food fiends out there. Refined sugar in items like soda, potato chips, and most chocolate, is so inflammatory, that it can cause a condition known as sugar aches. The symptoms from sugar aches include stiff joints, sore muscles, and migraines.
We all have that sugar and carb craving now and then. Its not realistic to completely eliminate them from your diet, but it is possible to get your carbs from whole foods, like fruits and veggies.
tip: Ditch the sugary chocolate bar and grab a dark chocolate bar instead (over 85%).
Here are a few other Inflammation causing foods:
- Pasteurized dairy
- Foods high in trans-fat
- Corn and soybean oils
- Excessive Alcohol
How Can We Fight It?
As there are food that increase inflammation, there are also foods that help reduce it. Some of these include:
- Salmon (Omega-3s)
- Spices: turmeric, ginger, cayenne pepper
- Nuts and seeds
- Healthy Fats
All these food are readily available at the grocery store. Make them part of your regular diet, and inflammation will decrease. Here are some other foods that help fight inflammation.
tip: For an delicious recipe full of inflammation fighting health fats, try my bulletproof coffee recipe.
DUH??…No but seriously, exercise is absolutely one of the best remedies for inflammation. People with chronic inflammation often have severe joint pain, so exercising may seem painful. But exercise help increase metabolism, which helps the body speed up its normal processes, like clearing toxins.
Another reason to exercise is that weight loss helps decreases inflammation. This is because fatty acids circulating in the blood help increase inflammation.
Like many things in life, dealing with inflammation is a balancing act. Theres some food on that list that we all love, but causes us to be be inflamed. I for one, am a sucker for ice cream (pistachio to be specific).
They key isn’t necessarily to completely eliminate all those foods in your diet, but to limit them. After all, its about balance right??