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Inflammation, the good, the bad and the ugly a Nutritional perspective.

When we get older, or in some cases even in younger folks, inflammation can be a major problem in joint and overall body pain that if left untreated will run rampant in the body. How does it show up in YOUR body you may ask? Have you ever hurt a body part and it became swollen? Or, have you ever accidentally cut your finger or some part of your body and after the initial bleeding subsided in the area it became swollen and hurts to touch it? That’s the body’s natural inflammatory response which is what it is intended to do that helps the body to heal itself, the good kind of inflammation. There’s a bad kind of inflammation as well that if we don’t recognize it and treat it appropriately, it can become unmanageable. This is something everyone should keep a close eye on especially as we get older.

Your immune system becomes activated when your body recognizes anything that is foreign— such as an invading microbe, plant pollen, or chemical. This triggers a process called inflammation, sometimes inflammation persists day in and day out even when you are not threatened by a foreign invader. That’s when inflammation can become your enemy. Many major diseases that plague us—including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression,
and Alzheimer’s—have all been linked to chronic inflammation. I’m not saying that it is the only cause of these disease states, but simply that it can be a contributing factor. To give you a quick nutritional example of something that seems fairly innocent but is not, take a gander at food additives, specifically, colored dyes that go into our food products in America.

  • Blue No. 1
  • Blue No. 2
  • Green No. 3
  • Red No. 3
  • Red No. 40
  • Yellow No. 5
  • Yellow No. 6

These artificial colors were approved as a U.S. Food by the U.S. Congress in 1938. There’s a psychology behind why they put artificial colorings in foods to get kids and us to eat things that are visually stimulating by the way. The color of, and either sweet and salty taste of most all processed foods tantalize our taste buds, make are mouths water with excitement and get us to buy buy buy them, and eat the crap out of it. Get the picture I’m throwing down here?

The overall knock with artificial colors and why they are banned in the E.U. and Canada is that they are an irritant to the body, may cause and bring about inflammation and as described above, and “Activate your body’s immune system as it recognizes it as something foreign to the body and triggers that process of inflammation” They simply are not natural to the body and can cause harm, otherwise entire nations wouldn’t band their use. If you look in nature, there are many different natural colors to fruits, vegetables and foods that are naturally occurring, and great for the body because they contain polyphenols and other healthy antioxidants beneficial to
the body and not looked at as “Foreign” which subsequently causes an inflammatory state. It’s not only artificial colors that cause inflammation though, it’s artificial flavorings, processed foods, food additives and the fact that 70% of the American diet that most of us eat are processed foods, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why as a nation on the whole we’re all jacked up from these processed products that our body’s do not like and is causative of a myriad of different diseases and disease states.

We as Americans then turn to our doctors for answers to this huge problem of inflammation and instead of telling us to eat better, cut out everything processed, as most Doctor’s no zilch about nutrition, they then prescribe us NSAIDS and corticosteroids for our achy joints which do not get to the root of the problem, not to mention are hard on the stomach, liver and other organs, as well as the corticosteroids will degrade connective tissue if taken too many times to quell the inflammation. We need to start managing this problem with diet and what we put into our body, but, most Western-based doctors think that they can cure inflammation with medications and rest. What’s causing the inflammation in the first place? If you don’t stop what’s causing the inflammation why would an NSAID get to the root of the issue? Naturopaths and progressive Nutritionists have been anecdotally proving that treating inflammatory conditions with foods, and natural supplements have always been the key to curing one’s body systems when it comes to inflammation.

One of the most powerful tools to combat inflammation doesn’t come from the pharmacy, rather, it’s the grocery store. “Many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects,” says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Choose the right anti-inflammatory foods, and you may be able to reduce your risk of illness.
Consistently pick the wrong ones, and you could accelerate the inflammatory disease process.

Foods that cause inflammation

Try to avoid or limit these foods as much as possible:

  • refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries, sugars
  • French fries and other fried foods
  • soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages, and anything containing high fructose corn syrup(HFCS)
  • red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed, cured meat containing nitrates(hot dogs, sausage)
  • margarine, shortening, and lard( yes your mother’s or grandmother’s Crisco was no good!
  • artificial colors/sweeteners

Many major diseases that plague us—including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s—have been linked to chronic inflammation So, what’s the answer to this big problem and how do we address and treat it, it starts and ends with what you put into your body:

  • Natural foods in their most raw states
  • Organic, grass-fed, and game meats
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Foods high in Omega 3s, flax, macadamias, walnuts, fish and fish oils work best and Nordic Naturals are my go to for high omega 3s.
  • Vegetable oils, although they tout the fact that it’s “vegetable” are still highly processed oils typically. You’ll find the words partially hydrogenated, or fully hydrogenated vegetable oils, please steer clear of those.
  • Minimally processed oils like cold-pressed Extra Virgin Olive oil(EVOO) for dressings and Extra Virgin Coconut oil and avocado oils are great for cooking and preferred.
  • Whole grains are good unless you are celiac, legumes, rice and rice blends, noodles, root vegetables are all healthy good sources of foods.
  • Take home from this is eat cleaner, be smart about how and what you buy with food, and make smart choices so that 80/90 of the food you eat is non-processed and your body will thank you. Remember to love, honor and respect your body.

In Strength,
Coach Greg