The Natural Anti Inflammatory Diet: 5 Foods that Cause Inflammation
I was angry all the time. I had eczema all over my fingers, and I had little bursts of blemishes on my face. Not only that, I had trouble falling asleep. I was too wired. I was fired up all the time.
I was rolling in inflammation, and I was miserable. I realized I was eating carelessly out of stress, eating foods that caused my inflammation to become rampant. At the same time, I did not want to take an NSAID for my symptoms of high inflammation. I needed natural anti-inflammatory foods that would soothe and cool me.
When you calm your inflammation, it shows up in your face and skin. It shows up in your body's mobility. When you eat foods that calm inflammation, you feel your movements to be fluid and free. Your joints and digestion, specifically, feel the benefits of being free of inflammation.
But your skin will thank you more than any part of your body because that's the part of your body the world sees. It's just a matter of rejecting the foods that could and probably are causing you inflammation.
If you suffer from chronic inflammation, then you will have to look at the foods you consume every day to see which ones are hurting your digestive tract and/or raising your blood sugar on a continual basis.
Raising your blood sugar? What does that have to do with anything?
Well, when you are addicted to something (like sugar) that is constantly keeping your blood sugar levels high, that blood sugar will damage artery walls over time, leading chemical messengers to sound an alarm, and the body releases an inflammatory response to the area.
This is why Metabolic Syndrome (pre-diabetes) or Type II diabetes is sometimes a precursor to heart disease. This is why blood sugar-related disease are so closely related the cardiovascular diseases.
This is a defense mechanism the body uses to heal itself. A fever or a bruise are examples of the same inflammatory reaction to bring the body into repair. The problem is when there is too much damage all over the place and/or too much of the time.
The role that digestion plays:
When the gut walls have compromisedor excessive permeability, substances that the body will deem as foreign can get through the gut wall into the blood. This is Leaky Gut Syndrome which can lead to inflammatory bowel diseases, eczema, depression, asthma, Rheumatoid Arthritis, MS, and whole host of other conditions that all eventually boil down to inflammation.
The gut wall is compromised through food particles that have been poorly digested. This happens because of an imbalance in the flora or bacteria of your gut (through use of drugs, birth control, antibiotics, foods that contain antibiotics like conventional meat and milk), and a lack of the correct nutrients needed to digest certain foods (poor diet, lots of processed foods), or the sheer size/constitution of the particle.
Good gut bacteria feeds on your food, ferments your food and also produces vitamins that give health to the entire body. A healthy gut is a healthy body. Period.
When big pieces of food or substance get through the gut wall, your immune system will find these substances in the body and tag them as invaders. And this is where the mess begins, but the immune system is only doing its job. And thank goodness for it. This is when you get an allergic reaction or flare up with eczema or hives. Or get a headache and/or become foggy-brained. Or become depressed. Or become anxious. Or develop a condition...the list goes on.
Just like the blood vessel walls getting help through inflammation, lots of different chemical messengers are released to heal damage done to the gut and also kill the invader, sound the alarm on the foreign piece of food in your system. These signals are sent through the blood, and if the inflammation is chronic, there will be constant inflammation in the blood, which can lead to everything from depression to gum disease, and especially to heart disease.
So those two pathways leading to inflammation tell us one thing: it has everything to do with what you put into your body.
5 foods that will cause inflammation all over your body:
Specifically, high fructose corn syrup. Yes, fructose is in fruit, and fruit is good for you. But nature meant for us to have fructose in the form of the fruit with all the seeds, pulp, and skin--the fiber, vitamins, minerals and water that come with fruit. Processed sugar is also stripped of anything that aids the digestive process. And let's not forget what was said earlier about the dangers of constantly high blood sugar.
And look, no one loves chocolate chess pie more than I do. But I keep it to a very, very minimum, like keeping it in my freezer and eating two slices every four months. And when I eat something like a cake or drink alcohol, I have a backup plan for reducing the inflammation I know is coming (see below). So this broad category includes sweets, white bread, sneaky sugars that end with -ose on your nutrition labels (got to start looking at label), straight-up sugar, sugars in your foods and drinks. Sodas are evil. Gum too. But it's only evil when it's deeply embedded into your daily or weekly routine.
This is also true for those diet sodas you think are good for you. No sugar usually means the use of aspartame which is worse than sugar when it comes to the inflammatory response: it's a foreign substance so it can't be digested by the body, and it raises blood sugar anyway. Same goes for sugar-free gum. Look at the ingredients. Same goes for all artificial sweeteners. They truly affect your microbiome (colony of bacteria and micro-life in your body) negatively.
Gluten literally means glue. It sticks to your intestines, and does not allow other nutrients to be digested and absorbed. Nor itself. Especially not itself. It is a protein in wheat that sneaks in through the gut wall and causes an allergic response. Many are sensitive to it, and lots are allergic to it completely. We are talking any wheat product here.
We are talking about bread, flour, conventional crackers. Just keep all that to a minimum. When you quit it for a bit, you might notice that bloating has gone down, your face is less puffy, and your skin might be less inflamed. Besides for wheat, this includes barley, spelt and rye.
It's not lactose, but casein--the protein in cow's milk that causes the issues in the same way that gluten does--compromising gut walls and getting through them to the blood where the immune system rears an inflammatory attack on it. It's foreign to the body because we are not cows. Pretty simple.
Another factor is if you are using conventional milk, cheese or butter, it is guaranteed that you're disrupting the peace and balance of the flora in your gut due to the fact that the cow was treated with antibiotics for sure.
Alcohol is sugar. I want to confirm this with you. It will raise your blood sugar every time. That's why you have headaches--due to the inflammation coursing through your blood. It does not take very long for alcohol to have this effect. Just a few glasses, and the inflammation will gearing up.
Oh, the smell and taste of coffee is my favorite smell and taste in the world. You probably love it too. But having lots of coffee every day releases a stress response that releases a hormone called cortisol. Millions of Americans are operating straight from cortisol, which works by taking stored sugar in the cells and moving the sugars into the blood for energy (because the body is saying I must fight or I must flee! Stress response!)
Constant cortisol keeps the blood sugar high, which as we know, damages the blood vessels and leads to all kinds of problems. All I can say is let coffee be a treat! I treat meat the same way: every now and then because I love my life, not because I need to survive my life.
This cortisol response is why we must keep stress to a minimum. Cortisol jacks up the blood sugar and may even cause insulin resistance in the cells because of the high levels of blood sugar. And chronic stress will always lead to chronic inflammation. Every time darlings.
So what should we eat to reduce inflammation? Are there natural ways to calm it?
The sweet answer is yes. A natural anti-inflammatory diet is yours for the taking. Nature has bestowed upon us many wonderful gifts for reducing inflammation in the body, reducing pain and bloating, and feeling better in general. Take it in:
Gingerols are substances that put the chemical messengers that create an overly inflammatory response under control. Gingerols prohibit the synthesis of pro-inflammatory chemicals like cytokines. It also reduces the effects of aging through its antioxidants. It also improves gut motility and works on serotonin receptors in the gut.
Curcumin is the substance in turmeric that has major anti-inflammatory benefits. It has been shown that turmeric might be a medicine for Alzheimer's Disease. It is, just like ginger, a superb antioxidant--keeping the liver from damaged by toxins. It is being tested for treating gut diseases that have to do with gut permeability and gut inflammation. It has also been shown to help with arthritis.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
And the different types: DHA, EPA, and ALA. ALA is from plant sources: pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, seaweed, walnuts. DHA is the end product Omega-3, with ALA eventually turning into DHA in the body (or in the body of a fish). If you're not opposed to eating fish, then this is the best source of DHA because they have eaten the ALAin krill or some other seaweed, and it is already in their bodies. You can also supplement this.
What about Omega-6 fatty acids? Yes you need them. But you already got them. If you live in this world and eat cooked food. You are getting too much Omega-6 probably. And some of it might damaged, leading to guess what? Inflammation! Yep. So take care of all of your oils. Store in a cool, dark place because heat and light oxidize oil, leading to free radicals in your body, which leads to...you guess it: inflammation.
Omega-3s reduce inflammation by maintaining integrity of cell walls so that cells may DETOX properly, releasing wastes and taking in nutrients.
If you're going to eat the fish for DHA, get wild fish because they are the ones who are ingesting the ALA in seaweed.
The right kinds of fats are very important for brain cells, insulation of nerves, hormone production, vitamin integration, and all other types of functions in the body. Get plenty of fat in the diet (just not damaged fats or trans fats (hydrogenated)).
To tamp down inflammation in the gut, we'll have to eat plenty of soluble (think oatmeal) and non-soluble fibers (think celery). The non-soluble work to clean up the gut and also act as a prebiotic (food for the flora in your gut). Soluble fiber bulks the stool and prevents both diarrhea and constipation.
Then the happy bacteria and gut will get stronger to prevent inflammation from occurring in the first place. To ensure fiber: skins of fruits and vegetables, plenty of nuts and seeds. So eat a lot of plants, have you heard that advice before? Well, here is again, friend. Eat more plants. And grains like millet, quinoa, amaranth. There it is again.
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV):
ACV is a powerful prebiotic for your good bacteria. As fermented apple, it also contains beneficial bacteria to add to your own gut colony. Take care of the little guys and bathe them in the good stuff (enzymes, good acids, vitamins and minerals), plus give them new friends. Careful to take this when you need gut support and not every single day as it could mess with your stomach acid too much, causing way too much acid and probably acid reflux.
Drink so much water:
Try to drink purified water. Drink a lot of it. More than you think you need. That's all there is to say about that. Maybe one more thing to say about it: Boil some water and make tea with peeled turmeric and ginger tea. Drink that business every day.
Specialty plants for an inflamed digestive tract:
- Slippery elm: soothes tract walls
- Marshmallow (the plant not the white puffed candies in the bag): cooling for inflammation
- Aloe: contraindicated for diarrhea-–can drink juice, better for constipation
- Valerian: tincture (1 drop soothes nervous system, is antispasmodic and relieves gas)
- Peppermint oil: not good if there’s reflux because it relaxes the esophageal sphincter (between esophagus and stomach) but helpful to ease pain, stop spasms, improve motility, and is antimicrobial
What are some ways inflammation is showing up for you? What about tips for cooling the digestive tract from your own experience? Comment below!
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