Inflammation sounds alarming and serious, and it definitely can be, but it’s also common and normal.
It’s your body’s way of protecting you from bad stuff: stress, infection, injury, a cold or flu, pesticides, airborne allergens, etc. For example, if you get a mosquito bite, your body detects a foreign, potentially harmful substance and your immune system is triggered and sends defenses to protect you, so may get a little puffy and itchy at the site – inflammation.
Now imagine that inflammation inside your body.
You wouldn’t be able to see it like you would a mosquito bite, but you would feel it in other ways.
A few years ago I had several health issues, like bloating, indigestion, and rosacea, to name a few, and I started looking for answers about what could be causing these problems. I don’t like going to the doctor or taking medicine and I didn’t like the idea that it could be happening because my 50th birthday was approaching.
Then I heard this notion that the food I was eating could be causing inflammation, which could cause some of the symptoms I was experiencing. It sounded crazy to me at the time.
“Certainly they wouldn’t sell products that could be harmful,” I thought.
I first heard about this idea one Sunday afternoon and I came across a show with Dr. Mark Hyman lecturing on the subject of nutrition and talking about his book, “The Blood Sugar Solution”.
At first, his message sounded outlandish and conspiracy theory-like and I don’t much buy into any of that stuff, but he piqued my curiosity about the possibility of being able to help myself feel better by changing the foods I ate.
Food and inflammation?
In a nutshell, he says that inflammation causes many symptoms of illness we experience when we don’t eat good food, which is plant based non-GMO, organic fruits (limited amounts) and vegetables (green), nuts, “good” fats, and some lean meat. This leaves out caffeine (What!?), grains, sugar or artificial sweeteners, dairy, and alcohol. He also recommends supplementation.
My “Elimination” experience
I felt so crappy and confused about what could possibly be causing all the discomfort and annoying symptoms I was experiencing. I decided to give it a try. For a week, I eliminated the foods that might be causing inflammation. It was tough.
I got headaches, which may have been withdrawal from caffeine and sugar, but what I discovered through 7 days of eliminating these things from my diet was huge for me.
I don’t know for sure because I never got tested for any of this, but I must have been a hot-bed of inflammation and the primary causes for me were grains and sugar.
That was the beginning of my education of how good food can change one’s health,
how our bodies do what they’re supposed to do to keep us alive and healthy. How food plays a huge role in how well we feel.
I became more aware of preservatives, added sugar, over-processed grains, food coloring, pesticides and other chemicals in food and my sensitivity to them. I eventually learned about quality supplementation to help fill the gaps in my nutrition and that’s made a huge difference for me as well.
What are some things you can do to ease inflammation?
Understand that almost all food is processed
When people talk about making good food choices, they often recommend staying away from processed food. Unfortunately, unless you grow your own food, your food is processed. The question is how many processing steps has it undergone. Generally speaking, the closer it is to its natural state the less processed it is.
Eat more whole food
This helps limit exposure to pesticides; check out the Dirty Dozen list and always wash fruits and vegetables before eating
Read food labels
Do you recognize the ingredients? Does it have added sugar, food dye, or chemicals? Select minimum ingredients.
Believe it or not, you can purchase a jar of peanut butter that looks like peanut butter and doesn’t have peanuts in it at all! For more information about reading a food label, read “How to Read a Food Label.”
- Try eliminating foods, like grain, sugar, or dairy for 7 – 10 days, then gradually add them back into your diet one at a time. You may discover a sensitivity to a food or ingredient.
- Take a quality supplement, including a probiotic. I’ve had great results using supplements by USANA Health Sciences.
Being conscious of how our food choices can give us more of what we need and less of what we don’t can help us stay strong and well. It can take a while to figure out what works best for you, so stick with it and know that
your health is worth it.