Optimal health and well-being are becoming more and more of interest as our society learns more about longevity. Whether passing through the magazine aisle or bookstore, reading newspaper articles or watching daytime talk shows, at some point you have probably seen or heard of similar captions: “Anti-Inflammatory Diet,” “Stress and Inflammation,” or “How To Get Rid of Inflammation.” These captions may have caught your attention and you were interested in reading more. Maybe you did not understand what this “Inflammation” was all about. Here is some information to help you have a better understanding of what inflammation is, how you can prevent it and begin healing your body.
So let’s begin looking at what is inflammation? Inflammation is the body’s natural immune response to protect against and remove potentially harmful stimuli and begin a healing process. This inflammatory response is only beneficial in small doses. If one is continually in an inflammatory state they will have pro-inflammatory makers and eventually there body will enter a chronic inflammation state- which is a negative health consequence. This is negative because chronic inflammation can lead to pain, weight gain, skin and digestive problems, the list goes on and on. You might be familiar with some of the causes of inflammation such as too much stress, lack of sleep and injury but you might be unaware of diets impact on your body’s immune system.
This natural inflammatory response occurs within our bodies when we consume foreign invaders. These “foreign invaders” include foods such as processed items with their added sugars, salts, preservatives and partially hydrogenates oils and can all contribute to inflammation. They are full of inflammatory ingredients and are foreign to our immune system.
Good news is just as eating certain foods can elicit an inflammatory response in the body by avoiding certain foods you can alleviate and or reduce inflammation.
Here are some suggestions for you if you or someone you know suffers from inflammation and or want to learn more about an anti-inflammatory diet.
- Choose foods from all food groups and focus on a colorful “rainbow – like” plate!
- Avoid processed foods as these can contribute to inflammation. Processed foods include commercially baked goods, fast foods and sweetened breakfast cereals. They are high in sugar, high fructose corn syrup, white flour, corn starch/ syrup, trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils) and unhealthy oils. Processed foods that are high in commercially added sugars cause spikes in our blood sugars because they are digested quickly into the blood stream. These refined carbs cause a “Rollercoaster” effect on the blood sugars because they are not a sustainable energy source as they are rapidly digested into the blood stream. High blood sugars and insulin have been linked to increases pro-inflammatory biomarkers called cytokines and inflammatory free radicals reactive oxygen species (ROS). Which we do not want!
So you now know you should avoid processed foods, white sugar and white flour products. What should you choose in place of those? Instead consume whole grains, look for 100% whole wheat as the first ingredient. Whole grains and complex carbohydrates are slowly released into the blood stream, higher in fiber and digested at a slower rate therefore providing sustainable energy and satiety. What about if you have a sweet tooth? Well, if you know me, you know about my sweet tooth! Satisfy your sweet tooth with a piece of dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa. If you want baked goods, make homemade baked items with whole ingredients like rolled oats, whole-grain flour, raisins, applesauce, flax seed and dark chocolate chips. Continue reading