We all hear this buzz word in the media: INFLAMMATION.
Let’s break it down a bit and figure out the following:
~What is inflammation?
Inflammation can happen in two ways. One is called acute inflammation and it is our body’s way to heal us if we sprain an ankle, cut our finger or catch a virus. Our immune system kicks into high gear to rush all of its healing cells and molecules to the site of injury. This can manifest itself as heat, swelling and pain (like when we sprain an ankle) or as a cough and fever (when we have an illness). Acute inflammation is good inflammation because it is short lived and our body is healed as a result.
The inflammation we need to watch out for is chronic, low grade inflammation. It is the underlying cause of most chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s, arthritis, heart disease, cancer and more. Unlike acute inflammation, chronic inflammation does not show up as swelling or a fever. It is much more sneaky than that. In response to chronic stress (examples: poor sleep, eating inflammatory foods, being under lots of stress at work), the body releases stress molecules into the bloodstream. However, instead of healing the infection or ankle sprain, these molecules just hang out and start to cause damage. They can damage our arteries and lead to heart disease, heart attacks and stroke. They can damage our joints and lead to arthritis. Regardless of how they damage our bodies, it is never a good thing.
~Why is it bad?
Low grade chronic inflammation is bad because it causes our immune system to be on constant alert. This constant alert starts to destroy tissues. And once this low grade inflammation gets started, it can go unchecked. Often times, these inflammatory molecules are their own feedback loop too. This means that as more get produced, this tells the cycle to continue and leads to a worsening of our inflammatory state.
~What causes it?
Several things can cause chronic inflammation but most of the causes stem from our lifestyle.
1. Exposure to environmental toxins (mold, aesbestos, cleaning products, etc)
2. Lack of sleep (too little sleep has been directly shown to produce inflammatory cytokines)
3. Too much stress (this has also been shown to produce inflammatory cytokines)
4. Eating food that we are sensitive to (this causes a leaky gut and that leads to undigested food particles entering our blood stream where the immune system goes on alert and produces inflammatory markers)
~Eat an anti-inflammatory diet in order to prevent inflammation:
We coach you on how to eat an anti-inflammatory diet. To us, that means:
1. Avoid foods you are sensitive to (for many of us, that means gluten, dairy, sugar and soy)
2. Avoid toxins in your foods (eat organic and grassfed whenever possible)
3. Avoid inflammatory fats (mainly in the form of vegetable oils)
4. Avoid processed foods and GMO foods (our body doesn’t recognize these things as true food and this can easily lead to inflammation)
5. Eat anti-inflammatory foods (below is a list of my top 10, check it out)
Carrie’s Top 10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods:
1. Turmeric (found in curry spices)
2. Ginger (try it as a tea!)
4. Omega 3’s (eat salmon, sardines or omega 3 fortified eggs at least twice a week or take a supplement)
5. Blue, purple and red berries (chock full of antioxidants!)
6. Dark chocolate (also chock full of antioxidants)
7. Cruciferous veggies (Kale, broccoli, etc actually help our bodies detoxify toxins)
9. Extra virgin olive oil
10. Tea (especially organic green and white tea)
Try to consume at least a couple of these every day. Try to combine them for added benefit. For example, make salmon with a garlic curry rub. Or add cinnamon and dark cocoa powder to your coffee. Make a dressing with extra virgin olive oil and garlic and pour it over kale.
Remember: each meal or snack is another chance to get back on track and live an anti-inflammatory lifestyle.