I know, I think I’ve already addressed this at some time during the past couple of years, but I really think it should be revisited.
Do you suffer from any of the following? Skin irritations, pain anywhere in your body (like RA, arthritis, osteoarthritis or just joint pain), fat accumulation anywhere in/on your body, headaches, stomach problems, puffiness, bowel issues? Well, let me tell you that you are not alone and most likely have inflammation. Inflammation is sneaky! It can be lurking around your body for some time before it actually shows its ugly head (sometimes for years), but it is still there. You know when you have inflammation when at some point in time you have a knuckle that hurts and you didn’t do anything to make it so – hmmm! How about that stiff neck, or sudden back pain you just experienced, where did that come from? Believe me when I say, it’s been there for a long time, your body just decided it was time to show you it’s there! My rheumatoid arthritis didn’t just show up on July 12, 2014 – it was there just waiting for the “right time” to show up and give me lots of aggravation.
Don’t get the wrong idea about Inflammation – it does have a very valuable purpose. When you cut yourself, the role of Inflammation is the body’s attempt at self-protection to remove harmful stimuli and begin the healing process. Inflammation is part of the body’s immune response. Infections, wounds, and any damage to tissue would not be able to heal without an inflammatory response. However, when there is too much inflammation in the body for not the right reasons, it becomes a serious issue and can cause many detrimental issues in the body, which can lead to disease.
What can you do about it? Well, there are a lot of things you can do. Let me list some of them here – reduce carbohydrates (not all of them, just some of them), start eating fat (yes, I said eat FAT) the good kind, get more good quality sleep, fast (there are types of fasting that aren’t the least bit difficult to do), start eating anti-inflammatory foods (I’ll list some below). Oh, yes, move more – I covered exercise just a little while ago, so won’t here. There, that should keep you going for a bit of time, but let’s explore these things.
Reduce carbohydrates – you know there are good carbs and bad carbs – we’re talking about the bad carbs here. If you don’t keep a food journal, maybe it’s time to think about it, because if you don’t know what fuel you are putting into your body that causes you issues, you can’t eliminate the problem foods. What are the bad carbs? Stay with me here – bread and grains (here’s a site of recipes for low-carb options Healthline.com), some fruits (bananas, raisins, dates, mango, and pears), starchy vegetables (corn, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets), pasta, cereal, beer, sweetened yogurt, juice (one of the worst beverages to drink as it will spike your blood sugar), low-fat and fat-free salad dressing (because are they high in carbohydrates), beans and legumes are very high in carbohydrates even though they are also high in fiber, you could eat them in moderation (lentils, peas, black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, kidney beans), honey or sugar in any form (white sugar, maple syrup, agave nectar, honey are all high in carbohydrates), chips and crackers, milk in large quantities (believe it or not using cream or half and half in coffee is a better carb alternative to milk in coffee or tea use coconut milk or almond milk instead to drink), and Gluten-free baked goods can contain even more carbs than gluten containing baked goods (use almond or coconut flour in baking instead).
Wow, that kind of makes you think a bit about what you are eating! All of those things are linked to inflammation in the body and can have serious affects to anyone eating/drinking them. But what should you eat? How about some protein, cooked/steamed vegetables/squash, homemade soups made with bone broth, nuts and seeds, berries/cherries, apples, homemade yogurt (it really is easy to make).
I mentioned to start eating FAT! What?! Well, if you’ve been following any of the health sites these days, you might have noticed a shift in the thinking of late. It seems the SAD (Standard American Diet) is promoting foods that actually make you fat, not help you lose it! I’m not talking all fats, I’m speaking of good fats – coconut oil/full fat coconut milk/coconut butter or manna/coconut flakes/shredded or dried, olive oil, avocado oil/avocados, dark chocolate (yes that’s right dark chocolate!), whole eggs, fatty fish like salmon/trout/mackerel/sardines and herring, nuts, hemp, flax and chia seeds, and full fat yogurt. Stay away from corn oil, canola oil, soy oil, any vegetable oils, trans-fats, hydrogenated oils and shortenings as they are processed with chemicals that are harmful to your overall health.
I like to use avocado oil mostly for cooking as it has a higher smoke (temperature) point than most of the others and it doesn’t have a strong flavor so you don’t notice it in your food. Saying that though coconut oil is great for cooking too, but will impart a coconut flavor in anything you cook in it!
Another oil I use regularly is MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) oil. It actually comes from part of the coconut and is very good for your brain health and to help you lose weight. I use MCT oil in my morning cup of tea, but it can be used in salads as well. It is not an oil that you would cook with, but is good for adding to smoothies, guacamole, homemade nut butters and salads. I don’t notice a flavor, so could possibly be used to put on top of your meals to get the benefits of using it. MCT oil gives you hours of fat burning, energy boosting and craving killing. It can also be used to make “bulletproof coffee/tea” created by Dave Asprey. Because I don’t drink coffee at all anymore, I use it in my morning tea with a teaspoon of gelatin, and maybe my carob powder, cinnamon, mace, ginger and cloves.
Another thing to help ease inflammation is to get good quality sleep. It all helps. If you have problems getting to sleep, try one of these methods: Meditate – turn off all lights, equipment (including the TV), if you have heavy shades on your windows close them to darken your room as much as you possibly can, use eye shades if you have to; use an essential oil blend for sleep (lavender, frankincense, cedarwood, and bergamot), in a diffuser in your bedroom (it really works, we use it every night); deep breathing can also help, because when you focus on the breath you relax. If you exercise, try not to do it for at least four hours before going to bed. Choose a time between 10 pm and 11 pm to go to bed and keep that as a regular bedtime. Turn off your electronic devices at least 2 hours prior to going to bed so your mind has a chance to relax. Also, no television or reading for at least an hour before sleeping as can disturb your sleep patterns. Sleep is when your body actually heals itself and if you are not getting the right amount (7-9 hours a night) or quality (deep and restful), your body cannot do its job.
Fasting can help your body reset itself. I know a lot of people think fasting is just another health gimmick, but I can tell you it’s not! And it doesn’t have to be complicated, like not eating anything for 2 days! If you’ve had a colonoscopy, then you have fasted. If you’ve had blood work that requires fasting, you do that when you don’t eat from 8 pm until your blood work is done at 9 or 10 am the next morning. But real fasting can be done very simply. There’s a method of fasting called “intermittent fasting” where you choose a 7 hour time period during the day that you will actually eat food – say from 12 noon until 7 pm. You can actually fit a full day of meals into that 7 hour spread of time, but if you are trying to lose weight, you might want to not eat quite that much of food in that short period of time. Instead try this: get up at your normal time in the morning; have a couple of glasses of water (which is a good idea even if you’re not fasting!); do not “eat” anything, but drink lots of water, tea (not coffee though as it is a stimulant), bone broth (your choice of flavor) until noon; from noon until 7 pm have a good size lunch, and a healthy dinner; then do the same the next day. You could try this for a couple of days and see how you feel at the end of it. To lose weight, you want to do this for several days in a row as you want your body to turn on its own fat burning mechanisms and go into Ketosis (I’ll cover this in another article) to help you get rid of excess fat in your body – like around your waist, which is the dangerous place to have it in the first place. Your body is an amazing piece of machinery. It really does know what it needs to work properly and to heal itself, you just need to give it the help it needs! But longer fasting also helps you remove foods that could be causing inflammation in your body, thereby resetting the body and helping relieve that inflammation.
Anti-Inflammatory foods to eat to help reduce inflammation are: green leafy vegetables like Swiss chard, bok choy, celery, beets, broccoli, blueberries, pineapple, salmon, bone broth, walnuts, coconut oil, chia seeds, flax seeds, turmeric (a natural anti-inflammatory I use 3x’s a day) and ginger. These are not the only anti-inflammatory foods to eat, but come highly recommended by Dr. Axe on his web site. Some other foods to consider – tomatoes (if tolerated), olive and/or avocado oil, spinach, kale, collard greens, almonds, mackerel, tuna, sardines (the smaller the fish the better), strawberries, cherries, and oranges.
I found Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid and thought it would be good to share, although I disagree with the soy portion, especially for women as soy is a phytoestrogen that can cause issues in a woman’s body. According to an article I read recently from Globalhealingcenter.com – “Soy contains two primary phytoestrogens, sometimes called xenoestrogens, genistein, and daidzein. Both compounds are known to disrupt the endocrine system in males and females. These, and all, estrogen compounds are classified as isoflavones. Isoflavones are estrogen mimickers that increase estrogenic activity.” So for me and many other women, it’s important to think about this before eating anything with soy or soy products in them.”
I know this is a lot to absorb, but it’s really important to help you overcome at least some of the inflammation your body may be harboring, and I hope this information helps.
Have a fantastic day and week ahead.