Inflammation 101 – get smart for good health

Inflammation is defined by the free online medical dictionary as a localized protective response elicited by injury or destruction of tissues, which serves to destroy, dilute, or wall off both the injurious agent and the injured tissue. The inflammatory response can be provoked by physical, chemical, and biologic agents, including mechanical trauma, exposure to excessive amounts of sunlight, x-rays and radioactive materials, corrosive chemicals, extremes of heat and cold, or by infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and other pathogenic microorganisms. Although these infectious agents can produce inflammation, infection and inflammation are not synonymous.

Director of the Center for Integrative Medicine in Cleveland, Dr. Tanya Edwards points out that anti-inflammatory foods have been used to combat cancer and many other diseases, i.e.: Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, many Autoimmune diseases, and asthma. The abstract from her article says inflammation is now recognized as an overwhelming burden to the healthcare status of our population and the underlying basis of a significant number of diseases.

The elderly generally bear the burden of morbidity and mortality, which may be reflective of elevated markers of inflammation resulting from decades of lifestyle choices.Lower cancer rates are associated with diets high in fiber, fruits, vegetables, and tea. AD and PD may be prevented or treated with aggressive vitamin E, curcumin, acetylcarnitine, and catechin supplementation.

Cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia may be ameliorated by treating the underlying cause: inflammation caused by visceral adipose tissue.It is no longer appropriate to allow our dietary habits to contribute to the morbidity and mortality of the majority of humans. Although there is much more to understand, we have enough information presently to make the necessary changes in our lifestyles to significantly affect the inflammatory process and potentially live longer, healthier lives, with fewer burdens to an overburdened and failing medical system.

Now that you’ve had a little lesson on inflammation, let me tell you about the foods and other substances that are inflammatory and should be avoided most of the time.I try to keep my rule between 90/10 and 95/5, but some people are 80/20. The more you allow, the more you are going to have underlying inflammation, pick your poison.

My family has known food sensitivities to gluten and dairy with obvious symptoms. It’s necessary for us to have about a 95 percent clean eating rate so we don’t feel sick and are able to function. Symptoms in our family range from GI related (bloating, belly pain, constipation, etc.) to neuro related (headaches, brain fog, memory issues, focus issues, etc.) to allergy related (itchy skin, rashes, sinus congestion, more headaches). And, now, without further ado, here are the lists.

Inflammatory Foods:

• Sugar – If I use sugar, I use raw, organic cane sugar. Nothing artificial!• Vegetable oils – High in Omega 6 oils. Use Olive and Coconut (Omega 3) -Coconut can help decrease chronic inflammation.

• Trans fats – Promotes inflammation as well as obesity and insulin resistance. Increases bad cholesterol and decrease good cholesterol.

• Grain fed beef – Grass fed has higher Omega 3 content. Commercially produced meats are feed with grains like soy and corn, creating a diet that is high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids but low in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats.

• Processed meats – If you do splurge, buy nitrate free

• Alcohol – I know what you’re wondering.

• Refined Grains – over processed, no nutrition, higher glycemic index than unprocessed grains.

• Artificial foods: sweeteners, additives, artificial dyes, and MSG.

• MSG – Monosodium glutamates – very common migraine trigger, in ~80 percent of packaged foods. Causes bloating and obesity. MSG is the substance that is given to lab rats to cause obesity so that scientists can study obesity. Let me repeat, it is not part of the experiment, it is protocol. MSG causes obesity!

• ALL artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame. I can’t preach enough about aspartame, just google it, please! It wasn’t even approved by the FDA initially. Just eat raw organic cane sugar when you need sugar.

• Artificial food dyes are made from petroleum oil. I also include annatto, although natural, it’s inflammatory for many people.

• High fructose corn syrup. Even if it says just “corn syrup” on the label, you can bet it’s GMO HFCS. Thank your government for the flimsy labeling.

• Dairy – Try almond, coconut or cashew milk. Use ghee or Grass Fed butter.

• Peanuts – Peanuts are actually legumes, and can be inflammatory. Note the rise in peanut allergies. Almond is our substitute.

• Carrageenan – made from seaweed, found in lots of healthy foods. Check your almond milk.Anti- Inflammatory Foods: Green leafy veggies, Bok Choy, Celery, Beets, Broccoli, Blueberries, Pineapple, Salmon, Bone broth, Walnuts, Coconut oil, Chia seeds, Flax seeds, Turmeric, Ginger.

Why is it so important to avoid inflammation? Inflammation starts in the gut, then, there is breakdown in the gut’s mucosal lining, and then into the mucosal layers, and the damage continues to spread from there. This is the phenomenon known as Leaky Gut.I have talked to so many friends lately who are suffering with disease processes like food allergies, headaches, weight gain, thyroid problems, sinus/allergy issues (it’s not pollen- it’s food), bloating, heartburn, constipation, skin disorders, fatigue, Irritable bowel, MS, Crohn’s, and the list goes on.

Please learn more about the substances that you put in and on your body. Your skin absorbs substances just as your digestive tract absorbs substances. It’s not just one thing that is causing problems, it’s a matrix.

That’s why I have tried to make the Inflammatory Substances list above as inclusive as I can.I have provided links to some of my resources on my website, katiepinktolley.com.

I always encourage you to do your own research too. The more we learn, the better we care for ourselves and our family. I hope my knowledge and info help you take care of you and your family so that you can enjoy the journey.

Editor’s note: Ms. Tolley is a resident of Cambridge, who writes a column on holistic health for The Dorchester Banner. Her column appears every other week. She can be contacted for coaching through her Facebook page or her website, katiepinktolley.com.

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