Inflammation; what is it and how to fight it

When we hear the word inflammation most of us think of the obvious signs and symptoms; redness, swelling, pain, and heat. There is also the less visible, more insidious form of inflammation. This is the one I’ll be talking about.

To define it more scientifically it is the “process by which the body’s white blood cell and substances they produce protect us from infection with foreign organisms, such as bacteria and viruses.” http://www.webmd.com/arthritis/about-inflammation#1.
This process is “switched on” by nervous tissue in conjunction with molecular signaling in order to detect, assess and respond to disruption to the body’s homeostasis (state of balance and well being).

Short term inflammation (known as acute), such as with a sprained ankle or fighting a cold, is productive and needed. But when inflammation becomes chronic it can cause a host of problems including; pain in the body, autoimmune disorders, allergies, arthritis, heart disease, frequent illness, fatigue, brain fog, physical injuries and much more.

We can get a hold of inflammation by paying attention to a few simple things: the health of our digestive system via nutrition, our stress and how we handle it, our quality of sleep, and our exposure to toxins.

It is seen more and more that there is an intimate link between our overall picture of health and our nutrition. Study after study finds that the food we eat effects our gut, our brains, and our bodies. Our digestive health is effected by the food choices we make every day. And for each and every one of us those optimal food choices are different.

Your body does not simply become what you eat, it becomes what you can digest and absorb.

By paying attention to some simple tenets of healthy nutrition you can begin to calm down chronic inflammation, heal your digestive system and begin to feel better in the big picture.

Here are 4 tips for getting your gut health on track and taming the inflammation:

1. Start a diet diary. Write down what you eat and drink and how you feel immediately after, and later in the day. If you start to see a pattern note it and decide whether you need to address a specific food. For example, if you eat eggs every morning but notice that soon after you have an upset stomach you may want to consider eliminating them from your diet for 21 to 30 days. See if you begin to feel better after breakfast and in general. Then test the eggs by eating them again at the end of your elimination period. How do you feel? Is your stomach upset? You can do this elimination with any food you feel may be an issue.

This may or may not be the definitive on what ails you but you will gain some insight.

2. Add greens and veggies! You can not get too much veggies. They are a nutrient dense, fiber filled food. Fiber is very important in providing food for good microbes in your digestive tract. The density of nutrients in veggies and greens make them invaluable. Eat the spectrum of colors to cover a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and many other phytonutrients. And it’s not a bad idea to make it your goal to eat greens with each meal! If you have a sensitive digestive system try sautéing, steaming or roasting your veggies to make them easier to digest. Adding them to smoothies is good too.

3. Cut the sugar! Most of us get too much sugar in our diets. And I’m not just talking about cookies and ice cream. Read the labels of your processed foods. Almost everything, from breads to salad dressings, has some sugar added. Most doctors recommend getting no more than 25g per day of sugar, this includes fruit. An athlete can process more than this but it should be in the form of whole fruits, nuts, starchy veggies like sweet potatoes. For more details on how sugar effects you read this article: http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/how-sugar-affects-your-body

4. Read your labels! As i mentioned above, most processed foods have added sugars. Also be on the lookout for trans fats, ingredients you don’t recognize and can’t pronounce, and hidden ingredients that you may have intolerance to.

As always, I am here to help you with getting your health on track and running at optimal speed. Feel free to contact me at kim@firebrighthealth.com

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