I’ve been doing a lot of reading about inflammation lately. Inflammation has been suggested as the underlying factor for most diseases and health concerns. (Chronic) inflammation has been linked to any number of ailments, including arthritis, gastritis, skin disorders (like acne, eczema, and psoriasis) and dermatitis, heart disease, cancer, obesity, Alzheimers, infections, allergic conditions, bowel and digestive disorders, diabetes, depression, dementia, and bad hair days. Well, maybe not the last one, but you get the idea.
How can one condition cause so many other problems? And how do we fix it?
In her book – Meals That Heal – Julie Daniluk outlines what she calls the six main causes of inflammation: toxicity, infection, allergy, nutritional deficiencies or excesses, injury, and emotional trauma. She also notes that there are two kinds of inflammation: acute inflammation, which occurs in response to a single incident or injury, like the swelling of a twisted ankle, and chronic inflammation, which is what occurs when the stresses on the body make it such that inflammation never goes away. It’s the chronic inflammation that is the particularly bad dude. In CrazySexyKitchen, Kris Carr describes it as “a silent (yet violent) kind of inflammation that can take place without you even knowing it,” the result of stress, poor nutritional choices, smoking, drinking alcohol, a sedentary lifestyle, and the Standard American Diet – meat and dairy, refined carbohydrates, artificial sweeteners, trans fats, and other chemicals/processed food products.
So now we need solutions! Because I love lists, and lists make me feel empowered, I couldn’t resist including Julie’s suggestions for foods that inflame and foods that heal. I’ve taken these straight from her book. Give the lists a quick eyeball – see any easy changes you could make in your diet?
Reduce or Eliminate these (MORE INFLAMING):
- artificial additives
- sugar and artificial sweeteners
- moldy or old fruit
- alcoholic beverages
- soft drinks and carbonated beverages
- commercially-smoked and cured meats
- white vinegar and vinegar-containing foods
- processed oil products (i.e. prepared salad dressings, margarines, anything with modified vegetable oils)
- coffee and regular black tea
- gluten grains
- nightshade family vegetables
- processed soy products
Purchase/Use these (MORE HEALING):
- natural sweeteners – brown rice syrup, maple syrup, dates, etc.
- healthy unprocessed oils – coconut, extra-virgin olive, flax, hemp, walnut
- fresh vegetables
- dairy alternatives
- gluten-free grains
- nuts and seeds
- beans and legumes
- healthy condiments and seasonings – lime and lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, umeboshi plum vinegar, fresh garlic, herbs and spices
Understand that these lists are a best suggestion of what you can do to reduce inflammation in your body and promote healing. Ultimately, though, you have to listen to your body. Some individuals might have trouble with the compounds in tomatoes or eggplant (nightshade vegetables) while others might not, and in the end, there are many healthy nutrients in those products, so you might not wish to eliminate them completely from your diet. Test and see how your body responds.
I think, as a general rule, moving from processed foods to fresh, organic produce, grains, nuts/seeds, and beans/legumes is already a pretty powerful start in supporting you body’s “anti-inflammatory” journey. Every little bit helps! And I hope you’ve found this helpful – look for some more articles on this topic from Backyard Owl coming in the next few months.
Oh, and P.S. 2 points to anyone who can tell me the original line that Newman says in Seinfeld. The prize is basically personal satisfaction, but still….
Inflammation Reading List:
- Meals That Heal Inflammation – Embrace Healthy Living and Eliminate Pain, One Meal at a Time. Author: Julie Daniluk, R.H.N.
- CrazySexyKitchen: 150 Plant-Empowered Recipes to Ignite a Mouthwatering Revolution. Author: Kris Carr, with Chef Chad Sarno
- CrazySexyDiet. Author: Kris Carr.
© Eat Well, Live Vibrantly