Are You Living an Inflamed Lifestyle?
Inflammation is caused by the immune system and is a protective mechanism. A simple example of inflammation is the body’s response to a mosquito bite. The immune system creates histamines that gather at the site of the ‘attack’ and create a swelling of the tissues to dilute the enzymes that the insect has injected into the site.
The foods that we eat can have a very similar effect to the mosquito bite if they trigger an immunoglobulin associated with allergic response. The problem with most people is that they do not know that they are having an inflammatory response to certain foods, especially if they have been consuming them over a lifetime and are used to the physical response. These responses include bloating, eczema, weight gain, water retention, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation or diarrhoea, headaches or
migraines, sinusitis, certain cancers, osteoarthritis, generalised pain, and dementia, as well as heart disease, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.
How Do You Know If Food Is Causing Inflammation?
The above list basically summarises just about every known malady, with the exception of bacterial infection. So, if you have suffered from ongoing (chronic) issues that have resulted in you having to use long-term prescription medication or if your doctors are baffled because they cannot find a cause or cure, then there is a good chance that you are going to have to take a long, hard look at what you are eating.In addition to foods, there are several lifestyle factors that trigger inflammation, either on their own or in combination with inflammatory foods. These factors include:
Lack of sleep
Lack of exercise
When it comes to one’s health, prevention is always a better option than cure. If your health ranks high up on your value chain, you can control a number of the factors that cause inflammation. Getting seven to eight hours of sleep is non-negotiable. Quitting smoking and engaging in regular exercise make a massive difference on so many levels. But the most far-reaching and permanent route to ensuring your long-term health is modifying your diet. For some, this is the hardest step!
Foods That Contribute to Inflammation
Sugar, Refined Starch, High-fructose Corn Syrup, and Alcohol
Whenever you consume refined foods, this causes a rapid rise in blood sugar, causes insulin levels to rise, and triggers a pro-inflammatory immune response. This even includes natural products such as honey and agave, which contain extremely high levels of fructose. Fructose, unlike glucose, is processed by the liver into undesirable fats, thereby leading to inflammation.
For optimal health, consum omega-3 and omega-6 in a ratio of 5:1. Vegetable and seed oils (sunflower oil, canola oil, soybean oil, margarine, corn oil and processed foods in general) are high in omega-6 fats and reduce your body’s critical balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fats. A diet with high levels of omega-6 is known to contribute to mood disorders and dementia, as well as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Omega-6 fatty acids are not bad in and of themselves, but, when your body gets out of balance, inflammation results. Foods that are high in trans fats, such as those found in many fast-food products, create low-density lipoproteins (LDLs). LDLs feed inflammation.
Dairy products cause inflammation, because your body sees two major components in dairy products as foreign invaders (mosquitoes) and fights these with an inflammatory response. These two major components are casein and lactose (milk sugar). Ironically, these are often the largest components in baby formulas.
Wheat, rye and barley all contain gluten. Gluten will trigger an allergic response in 8 out of 10 people, whether they realise it or not.
Foods Containing Chemicals, Second-hand Drugs and Hormones
We are not designed to process additives, preservatives, food colouring, artificial hormones, pesticides, and the drugs given to farm animals. Because the body doesn’t recognise these as foods, the immune system is called into action. The previous list may have cancelled out just about everything you eat in a day. But, for every downside, there is an upside. If you have suffered from the symptoms of inflammation, and depending on the degree of severity, you need to decide for yourself just how much to cut out and which anti-inflammatory foods to include. Bear in mind, though, that eating a bucketful of anti-inflammatory foods can calm an inflamed system but will not completely cancel out the inflammatory effects of sugars, alcohol, and processed foods.
Dark, Leafy Greens and Cruciferous Vegetables
Spinach, kale, broccoli and cabbage are top-notch inflammation fighters. They are also a rich source of fibre and repair damaged DNA. These foods are high in antioxidants and they have a natural detoxifying effect.
Turmeric is part of the ginger family of herbs and is often found in curry powders. Curcumin is a natural component of the rhizome of turmeric and is found in many natural anti-inflammatory preparations. Its benefits are far-reaching, especially with regard to neurological health.
High in antioxidants, blueberries are a delicious anti-inflammatory food.
The highest fibre-containing foods one can eat are avocados, for they are high in carotenoids, which fight inflammation. They are easily digestible and are full of healthy fats.
Lemon Juice and Zest
Hyperacidic systems are inflamed systems. Yet lemons, when ingested, promote balanced pH levels. Lemon peel contains salvestrol Q40 and limonene, which are known to destroy cancer cells. In addition, lemon peel has 100% greater nutrient density than the fruit itself.
Oily ocean fish like salmon and tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Fermented soy, legumes, walnuts, almonds, pecan nuts and Brazil nuts are excellent choices too.
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by Nicci Robertson