Inflammation wreaks havoc with our bodies. We can control it by the foods we consume and the lifestyle we incorporate. Take a look to see how.
What Is Inflammation?
Sounds like kind of a stupid question but the word gets tossed around quite a bit and sometimes gets underestimated. Inflammation is our body`s way of responding to injury/pain/illness or stress. It`s how it says "Uh uh, this ain`t right. This needs to be addressed." We are designed to be all inclusive. Alot of the time, we cn heal ourselves of our misery and ailments without the help of drugs that cause side effects. Inflammation is part of that all inclusive package.
There are different types of inflammation; acute and chronic. Let`s talk a little bit about both.
As in an injury or something of that order
This is the type of inflammation that isn`t a daily occurrence. The pain/swelling/redness is present for a day or two, maybe a week, and then it goes away. Some ways that our bodies get to that point are:
- Trauma (getting punched, kicked, smacked by a baseball bat)
- Viral/bacterial infection
- Chemical irritants
- Allergic reactions
When one of the above offenders happens, our body gets really busy. Following the 'irritant', for lack of a better word at the moment, the receptors at the site of the injury release mediators, which tell our blood vessels to widen. The reason for the widening is to let more blood through so it can warm the area (which is the cause for the redness) and let the leukocytes and plasma do their job. When the plasma goes into the surrounding tissue it fills up and causes swelling. At the same time that all this is happening, our body releases something called bradykinin, which increases pain sensitivity. It`s our temple`s way of saying "Hey, give your arm, ankle, knee...whatever, a break and chill for awhile." These responses are painful and annoying, but completely necessary for proper healing. That`s a brief synopsis of acute inflammation through some sort of trauma, but what about systemic inflammation that`s linked to disease/illness?
Chronic Inflammation and Illness
Heart disease, depression, obesity.....
This is the other type of inflammation and it wreaks havoc in our bodies. Inflammation was meant to be as desribed above; short lived and temporary. When it is constant, big problems arise. What can make it constant you ask? Here are a few scenarios with a brief description of each:
- Toxic diets: By toxic I mean high sugar, highly processed carbs, high man made fat consumption, high gluten, and high consumption of *CAFO meat. Pretty much the **S.A.D.
- Not enough omega 3`s: Omega 3`s fight inflammation. Not enough of the right O`s and you don`t have enough soldiers for combat.
- Too many omega 6`s: Omega 6`s initiate inflammation....should be self explanatory :)
- Lack of adequate sleep: Sleep deprivation leads to a higher production of inflammatory hormones and changes in your blood vessel function.
- Not moving enough: No, I don`t mean pack up your house and upset the kids by telling them you`re relocating. Get out and move your body more. Get your blood flowing. It doesn`t have to be an intense workout, just move more!
- Over training: On the opposite side of not moving enough, is moving too much. Not allowing your body proper recovery time will put it in a constant state of inflammation. Mark Sisson, a former marathon runner says, "When I ran 100+ miles a week, I certainly wasn’t sedentary, but I was chronically inflamed." Give your body proper repair time after a workout people.
*Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations
**Standard American Diet
"Let Thy Food Be Thy Medicine........'
6 Great Culinary Inflammation Fighters
In the list of things to avoid/alter, toxic foods was number 1. I could go into great detail about how dairy may initiate an inflammatory response, or how grains might, but my point in this article was to show you some foods you can eat to fight inflammation. I think human nature likes to hear more what we can have as opposed to what we can`t. The bright side is........well........brighter! LOL. Without further ado, here are some great culinary powerhouses.
- Wild fish fat: It`s the omega 3`s guys. I can`t stress it enough. Try and balance out your omega 3 to 6 ratio so it`s between a 3:1 and a 1:1. Wild caught salmon once a week, a fish oil supplement, a can of sardines or some herring.....it`ll do you loads of good along with lowering your consumption of packaged foods which are extremely high in omega 6`s.
- Pastured animal fat: Pastured is the key word here because those ruminants are eating what they`ve been designed to eat; grass and other lovely weeds and what nots found in the fields. They aren`t meant to eat grain. Pastured animal fat and meat has less omega 6, more omega 3, more CLA (a trans fatty acid that is anti-inflammatory), and it tastes better. Since I started buying eggs from pastured chickens, my husband won`t touch a tasteless, "regular" egg.
- Red palm oil: This oil is extremely dense in the area of antioxidants. It`s saturated with full spectrum vitamin E, COQ10, vitamin A, and vitamin D; all antioxidant powerhouses. It`s also been found to lower LDL.
- Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, horseradish, collard greens......I`ll put a link to a complete list down below.
- Berries: I LOVE berries! All kinds of berries! Blueberries always top the list of the most healthy in the berry category, but they`re all superfoods. Berries are yummy, low in sugar, and have oodles of color and antioxidants in their skin. If you can, choose organic berries because of the fact that we don`t peel them. Don`t want to have all that built in goodness destroyed by the ill effects of pesticides.
- Tumeric: For those of you who don`t cook, tumeric is a spice; and a powerful anti-inflammatory spice. It protects against oxidation of dietary fats when cooking, and against oxidative stress in our body after having been eaten. It`s beaten out ginger and an anti-inflammatory drug when being used for arthritis, and it does good things for our LDL receptors.
There are many more good foods out there that help to keep us healthy and fight inflammation. The ones I listed are considered therapeutic because of their healing powers. My favorite quote="Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food." We, as a society, have strayed so far away from what we are meant to consume and it`s apparent in the increasing cases of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cases of arthritis.......the list goes on. It makes me sad and I want to live my life as active and healthy as I possibly can. That`s not going to happen if I fill myself with nutrient- void crap. How about you join me?
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I am not employed in the nutrition field, or the medical field. I`m simply a woman, wife, and mother looking for the best way to stay healthy in this toxin filled world.