When you take a close look at the word ‘disease’, it is interesting to note that its roots are: ‘dis’ and ‘ease’ which reminds us that even the most serious medical conditions started out as a minor malfunction (or dis-ease) in the body.
Most doctors and scientists agree that the initial manifestation of virtually every illness known to man is inflammation in our cells. Therefore it is imperative for us to attain a better understanding of what causes inflammation and integrate lifestyle choices that prevent it from happening!
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is usually associated with heat, swelling, redness and pain in the body. “Silent inflammation” is the more dangerous version because it falls under the radar screen of our senses, and causes illness to become more prominent without us noticing.
Symptoms (aching back, cough, headaches) are nothing more than the physical manifestation of silent inflammation. By the time we notice symptoms our cells have already been inflamed for quite some time.
Food As Medicine
Nutrition FAR exceeds medicine when it comes to treating and preventing silent inflammation (in fact, there are no “medications” that currently target it)!
Because of this, it can be a life-changing event to begin thinking of your food AS medicine, and intentionally eat foods that not only taste good, or are convenient, but serve a higher purpose for treating the body like a drug!
This is a truly revolutionary concept, and one that can transcend the way you look at your food choices over the long term. Here’s a simple guide of some common foods and how they relate to inflammation:
Although the word emits a negative connotation, FATS are essential to good health and consuming a fair amount of high quality fats is critical to reducing inflammation in the body.
Most omega-6 fats, found in margarine and corn and safflower oils, are inflammation-causing substances. In contrast omega-3 fats, found in fish (wild salmon, mackerel, sardines and anchovies especially) and vegetables, have an inflammation-suppressing effect.
Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is an omega-6 fat that enhances the anti- inflammatory effect of omega-3 fats. Both GLA and omega-3 fish oils have been found helpful in arthritis and other inflammatory disorders. GLA is found in leafy green vegetables, olive oil, walnut oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, canola oil, avocados, nut butters and macadamia nuts and (again) have anti-inflammatory properties.
When it comes to getting good fats, I highly recommend taking a high quality fish oil ever day. This can do wonders for your long-term health!
One of the reasons inflammation occurs is from a rapid rise in blood sugar, which causes biochemical changes in the cell. Staying away from sugar and high-glycemic (simple) carbohydrates, which the body rapidly converts to sugar, is one of the best ways to decrease inflammation.
When blood sugar goes up rapidly, sugar can attach itself to collagen in a process called “glycosylation,” or the Browning Reaction, increasing inflammation
Good (complex) carbohydrates, which are low on the glycemic index include: apples, apsaragus, beans, broccoli, blackberries, blueberries, cabbage, cantaloupe, citrus fruits, green beans, honeydew melon, kiwi, leafy greens, peaches, pears, plums, raspberries, spinach, strawberries
Bad (simple) carbohydrates, which are high on the glycemic index include: bananas, breads, carrots, cereals processed with added sugar, corn, French fries, fruit juices, mangos, pancakes, papaya, pasta, peas, popcorn, white potatoes, white rice, sugar, waffles.
Get Plenty of Antioxidants to Fight Inflammation
One of the greatest things you can do to fight inflammation in the body is to eat foods that are flush with antioxidants, compounds that fight off free-radical cells. Free radicals are the pesky little devils that roam around your blood stream, getting into your tissues, causing damage to cell walls, certain cell structures, and genetic material within the cells.
In the worst case scenario and over a long time period, such damage can become irreversible and lead to disease (like cancer).
In my article The 5 Greatest Foods For Your Health, I talk about a bunch of foods that are very rich in antioxidants, like most forms of berries, raw cacao (chocolate) and leafy green vegetables.
Illnesses Caused by Inflammation
According to Barry Sears MD, author and creator of “The Zone Diet” inflammation can be the impetus for a great number if illnesses including: Arthritis, obesity, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, alzheimer’s, asthma and allergies.
According to Dr. Sears, there are 3 simple stages to disease: Wellness==> silent inflammation==> chronic disease. So the pathway to extended wellness lies in reducing and preventing the quiet irritations that disturb our normal energy flow.
Listening to your body for signs of inflammation is crucial for maintaining long-term health. Start becoming more aware of it, look at food as good tasting medicine, and get some antioxidants in your life!
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