When you think of inflammation, your first thought might be that of a sprained ankle or maybe a swollen nose after getting hit with a ball. It’s true that those things are inflammation (swelling) but, today, we’re going to talk about chronic, systemic inflammation that is at the root of every lifestyle disease. This is the kind of inflammation that leads to stomach pain, diarrhea, foggy brain, chronic fatigue, and joint pain.
Where does this nasty inflammation come from? One big source is Omega-6, the type of oil found in packaged foods and fast foods that make up the typical diet for many people. This systemic inflammation causes pain and can increase the need for anti-inflammatory medications, which can create an entirely different set of health issues.
Here are a few of the villains that can wreak havoc in your body:
- Trans-fats: margarine, deep-fried fast foods
- Artificial food additives: MSG, dyes, preservatives
- Conventionally raised meat that contains antibiotics (find healthier alternatives such as Blue Valley Meats, who delivers to Burien monthly)
- Some cooking oils like vegetable, canola, and safflower (replace these with coconut, olive, or macadamia oil)
- Dairy: For those that have trouble digesting dairy, eliminate it for 30 days and you may find your inflammatory symptoms will improve greatly. Conventionally raised dairy is often full of antibiotics so, again, switching to organic, grass-fed dairy products may be in order.
- Refined grains: The grains we eat are often processed to the point of being unrecognizable as food so our bodies attack as if it’s a foreign substance. The result is a full-scale inflammation response. Try sprouted grains or fermented sourdough instead.
The good news is that you can counter this dangerous inflammation naturally by eating foods that decrease inflammation and by including Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet — fish oil or, if you’re a vegan, flaxseed oil.
Some of the yummy foods that fight inflammation on your behalf are salmon, leafy greens, berries, and broccoli. To find out more about what other foods will help, see Dr. Axe’s Top 15 Anti-Inflammatory Foods here. You will be surprised at how easy it is to add these powerful foods to your daily diet.
Nobody has the “perfect” diet so don’t feel like you have to do all of this right this moment. Start slowly and keep the 80/20 rule in mind — follow these guidelines 80% of the time and leave 20% wiggle room to enjoy a glass of wine or a scrumptious dessert.
The goal is to NOT make these inflammation-causing foods your 80%!