The issue of chronic inflammation has gained attention recently and for good reason. We now know that chronic inflammation is the root of most, if not all, disease. The good news is that chronic inflammation can oftentimes be eliminated by changing the way you eat. The bad news is that many people don’t even realize their body is inflamed to begin with.
You might wonder, what is inflammation?
Not all inflammation is bad. In fact, we need inflammation in order to heal from certain conditions. Inflammation comes in two forms – acute inflammation and chronic inflammation.
1. Acute inflammation.
Acute inflammation is good for you and absolutely necessary for your body to heal. Whenever you are injured or get an infection, the body responds with inflammation – it increases blood flow to the area and rushes to help heal. Your body is on the job to remove offenders (viruses, bacteria or even a splinter) and heal up damaged cells.
2. Chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation on the other hand can be a problem for you. It is the same response as acute inflammation but the only difference is that it doesn’t shut off. This is what happens, for example, if your gut lining is compromised from a poor diet – your body rushes in to fix things, but the inflammation never shuts down. Most people walk around with chronic inflammation but don’t realize it – the symptoms may not be felt. Chronic inflammation is known to play a role in cancer, autoimmune disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety, heart disease and other conditions.
Another huge source of chronic inflammation outside of diet is lifestyle. Chronic stress leads to chronic inflammation.
How can you fix chronic inflammation?
The good news is that is can be fairly easy to get rid of chronic inflammation through diet. To summarize, the focus is on eating natural and unprocessed foods as well as eliminating sugar, food intolerances and foods high in Omega-6 fats.
Eating natural, unprocessed foods instead of sugar and processed foods can alleviate the inflammation and greatly strengthen your health.
Likewise, evaluating your lifestyle and reducing stressors as much as possible will help too.
Here are the basic guidelines for getting rid of chronic inflammation by changing the way you eat:
1. Eliminate sugar.
One of the biggest culprits contributing to chronic inflammation is sugar. Sugar gets your body fired up inside. It damages the gut, feeds unhealthy bacteria and contributes to disease. If you do nothing else, eliminating sugar will make a vast difference. See The Sugar Impact Diet by JJ Virgin.
2. Eliminate all grains, even whole grains.
Grains are now known to be very aggravating to the body and cause an inflammatory response. Many people have eliminated grains and found their entire health picture to change for the better. Contrary to what you may have learned, grains contain minimal nutrition. You will not be missing anything by eliminating them. People with autoimmune conditions have found great success in following this one simple step. See: Against All Grain and The Paleo Cure.
3. Indulge in olive oil and coconut oil.
Fast, especially saturated fats, have gotten a bad rep for no good reason. Know that fat is not the demon it was once made out to be. Indulge in healthy fats such as olive oil and coconut oil. Eating plenty of good fats will help soothe your inflammation and keep you feeling satisfied.
4. Eliminate food intolerances.
In her best-selling book The Virgin Diet, JJ Virgin details that the common inflammatory foods are: gluten, dairy, eggs, corn, soy, peanuts and sugar/artificial sweeteners. By eliminating these foods for a period of time, many people see their symptoms dissipate. Likewise, they also find that they lose weight and have much more energy. Remember though that foods that are inflammatory to one person, may not be inflammatory to another. To find out if these foods are inflammatory for you, follow the guidelines in her book.
5. Cut down on processed foods.
Processed foods are packed with inflammatory agents that are no good. Steer clear of processed and packaged foods.
6. Eat more fish or take a quality fish oil supplement.
Omega-3 fatty acids are especially effective at reducing chronic inflammation. Eat wild fish at least twice a week and take a quality fish oil supplement.
Additional Ways to Get Rid of Chronic Inflammation:
1. Manage stress – Stress is the number one killer out there today. Actively work to reduce stress by simplifying your life. Incorporate regular relaxation.
2. Get enough sleep – Most people are sleep deprived. Not getting enough sleep will lead to chronic inflammation. Shoot for at least 7 – 9 hours of sleep per night.
3. Quit smoking and limit alcohol intake – Smoking causes all kinds of disruption within the body including increased inflammation. Limit alcohol intake as well.
4. Eat more whole vegetables – Increasing your intake of vegetables will help fuel your cells and your body. See The Wahls Protocol for details on how incorporating more whole foods can be a total game-changer to your health.
5. Meet with a doctor – If you’re not sure where to start, find a doctor that knows about chronic inflammation and get their help. Most conventional doctors don’t know about chronic inflammation. Take the time to find a functional practitioner that can help you.