I’ve been hearing more and more lately about the damaging effect inflammation has on the body. At first, you may think like I did: that inflammation is a natural response. It tells you when you sprain an ankle and helps fight infection in the form of a fever. However, when inflammation is internal & becomes chronic, it can have a lethal effect. You might not even feel it internally the way you would feel a swollen ankle. Sustained inflammation slowly damages cells and is linked to a multitude of diseases including
- heart disease
- Crohn’s disease
- acid reflux
- wrinkles (if I must appeal to your vanity ;))
- & many, many more
My dad was here this past weekend and mentioned he might write an article about inflammation in the body. I thought I’d try to beat him to the punch ;). By the way, Dr. Dad has his own psychology practice and writes articles for newspapers and other publications… check out some of his work HERE. He’s pretty amazing.
Back to inflammation. Let’s start with the basics. What can cause chronic inflammation?
- Refined Carbohydrates : This means sugar, french fries, donuts, chips, pretzels, refined and bleached flours; AKA Processed Foods. & High Fructose Corn Syrup. For those that argue HFCS isn’t any worse than sugar… maybe it should be phrased as HFCS is AS BAD as sugar.
- High Fat, Processed Meats
- Smoke : if you’re a smoker or are exposed to second-hand smoke
- Pesticides: yet another argument to eat organic foods
Without getting too technical, C-Reactive Proteins are a key factor in inflammation. And did you know that elevated C-Reactive Proteins are more accurate than cholesterol levels in predicting heart attack risk? EEks.
What can you do to prevent chronic inflammation? Well, it’s good news!… I always giggle when I see the steps to take to avoid certain diseases. Do you notice that they always recommend the same thing?? A healthy lifestyle will help decrease inflammation in your body, as well as work as prevention towards almost every disease known to man 😉 Consider following these guidelines…
- Eat a wide variety of fresh, whole foods: experiment with new fruits & veggies… you’ll benefit from a variety of phytonutrients and maybe discover a new favorite food along the way!
- Limit (or eliminate all together) your consumption of processed food : if it’s package has an ingredient list longer than 5 ingredients and with ingredients you can’t pronounce, leave it on the grocery store shelf. & “steer” clear of the drive-through 😉
- Aim for a combo of fat, protein & carbohydrates at each meal : this will help keep blood sugar levels steady resulting not only in increased energy, but less C-Reactive Proteins (inflammation makers)
- Eat your omega-3’s : salmon, sardines, flax seeds, etc
- Vary you protein sources : try slightly decreasing your animal proteins and include more vegetables proteins (beans & rice, soy, etc)
- Choose organic whenever possible : this will limit your ingestion of harmful pesticides
- Exercise : this had many benefits, one being stress-reduction
- 30-40 g of fiber each day : if you aren’t eating that much yet, increase your intake slowly so you don’t overwhelm your digestive system
- Drink clean water : have you seen the new study that just linked chlorine in pools to cancer? I’m not sure about all that, but I’d like to make sure whatever I’m drinking is as pure as possible… use a water filter.
I hope you didn’t mind my detour this morning from my usual witty banter (right? I’m witty, right?? 😉)… but I enjoy passing on information I find important and useful.
Today I challenge you (& me) to take another step in a healthy direction. Try a new fruit, vegetable or grain. Drink at extra glass of water. Exercise for 15 minutes (or 15 minutes longer than usual). Small changes add up to BIG results 🙂
What will you do today?
I plan on playing with a new grain for dinner… recipe to come tomorrow!