The popularity of recent workshops on Inflammation indicate this problem has not cooled down!
While genetics often play a role in predisposing one to inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, diabetes or heart disease, diet and lifestyle is the critical key that unlocks the Pandora’s box of inflammatory disease.
The great news is that we have so much power to self-heal! The body, always seeking health and wellness, responds beautifully to returning to a natural diet rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Below is a list of 6 things anyone can do to cool the fires of inflammation.
- Eliminate hydrogenated oils from your pantry and become a sleuth when consuming anything that isn’t homemade! This ubiquitous “fat” gums up the cell’s ability to communicate effectively, is directly linked to an increase in heart disease and is highly suspect in diabetes and certain types of cancers. Several countries have banned it outright. It has no place in a healthy food supply, period. Just a few grams a day radically increases one’s chance of dying from heart disease by increasing bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowering good cholesterol (HDL). You are safer using lard. No joke!
- Another product to eradicate: high fructose corn syrup! HFCS has been linked to an increase in triglyceride levels, obesity and insulin resistance. All of these states themselves are risk factors for inflammatory diseases.
- Use healthy oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, and sesame oils when cooking. These oils are health-promoting! According to Mary G. Enig, Ph.D, the study which indicted coconut oil as a heart disease promoter used hydrogenated coconut oil for research! Natural coconut oil has not been shown to have deleterious effects in epidemiological studies.
- Supplement with Omega-3 fatty acids: even if you are eating cold water fish twice a week, you are likely not consuming enough omega-3 fats. Taking a fish oil supplement will increase your stores of EPA and DHA, which have anti-inflammatory properties in the body. If you are a vegetarian, you may receive your omega-3s from flax oil or algae, however adequate absorption may be of concern. Speak with a nutrition professional to find appropriate doses for you.
- Consume high amounts of colorful fruits and veggies! Fruits and vegetables are rich in specific anti-oxidants and phytochemicals that have anti-inflammatory effects. When choosing them, look for bold, bright colors. This is an indicator of high amounts of protective factors. Choose organic whenever possible; organic produce is known to have greater amounts of antioxidants than conventionally grown produce.
- Consider food intolerances: Many people have an intolerance to dairy, wheat, soy, or other commonly consumed food. This can cause low levels of inflammation as the body initiates an immune response to fight off a “foreign” invader. Symptoms include mucus (runny nose, phlegmy cough after meals), joint pain, digestive upset (stomach cramping, loose or infrequent stools), mood swings, blood sugar disturbances, headaches, brain fog, and more. With such subtle symptoms, food is often not the suspected cause! Consider eliminating a suspect food for 7-10 days and see how you feel. Then introduce it back at one meal in pure form (a glass of milk, a cup of noodles) and see what happens. My clients are often shocked at what they find, and pleased to find real solutions to nagging problems.
Antioxidants in organic berries higher; Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Vol. 56, pages 5,788-5794 (2008), published online on July 1, 2008.
The negative effects of hydrogenated trans fats and what to do about them.
Kummerow FA. Atherosclerosis. 2009 Mar 19.