by Elizabeth McMillan
Inflammation is an immune reaction that is triggered in response to an infection or laceration. For instance, if there is a cut on your finger, the body sends out an alert to the immune system. This draws inflammatory cytokines to the area and the sight becomes red, tender and produces heat. This is an acute inflammation reaction and its beneficial for the healing process. However, what happens when the body is constantly inflamed? This may present itself as chronic pain, puffiness, weight gain at the midsection, digestive disturbances and depression. Research is now saying that inflammation may be the root cause of almost all chronic diseases.
The more inflamed we are throughout the body, the more likely we will suffer from poor health conditions. Almost every chronic disease will list inflammation as a symptom. The good news is that if we can decrease our inflammation, we can dramatically improve our overall wellness. This includes brain and cognitive function, the ability to fight off the common cold, decrease occurrence of degenerative diseases, and improve our energy and stamina.
There are many things that contribute to a pro-inflammatory lifestyle including:
- High sugary foods and processed foods
- Insufficient water intake
- Food allergens
- Leaky gut and small bacteria overgrowth
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Insufficient exercise
- Insufficient amounts of phytonutrients found in fruits and vegetables
- Fatty acid imbalances between omega 6’s and omega 3’s
- Emotional stress and toxic relationships
Many of these instances are serious stressors, and if they are existing throughout your daily life, they will cause chronic inflammation. Unfortunately, most of us do not realize that we are inflamed. The inflammation might be located in your digestive tract, and this will not present the same signs as a cut on your finger.
While focusing on what causes inflammation is important, focusing on what we can do to decrease inflammation is key. In general, create a diet that has variety with as much fresh produce as possible. This could be labeled as a paleo diet, which consists of limited simple carbohydrates like breads and pastas, no processed foods, high vegetable intake, moderate protein intake and filled with healthy fats. By focusing on a clean and wholesome diet one can dramatically decrease the amount of inflammation throughout the body.
Creating dietary and lifestyle changes in order to decrease chronic inflammation will result in long life without relying heavily on painkillers. A diet that decreases inflammation might look something like this:
- Breakfast – Green smoothie made of a handful of spinach, almond milk, 1 Tbsp of chia seeds, 1 tsp turmeric, 1/4 cup blueberries and a 1/4 avocado
- Lunch – Large salad with grilled chicken, a variety of extra veggies, a sprinkle of sunflower seeds with an oil and vinegar dressing
- Snack – small green apple with almond butter
- Dinner – Lean Meatballs with Zucchini Pasta
- Water – half your body weight in ounces throughout the day
Partnering with a certified nutritionist to create an individualized dietary plan can take a lot of the pressure off yourself to achieve optimal wellness. A classically trained nutritionist is able to look at health history and any signs and symptoms in order to develop a personalized nutritional plan that fits into a busy lifestyle.
Elizabeth McMillan, MS, CNS practices integrative nutrition therapy at Rose Wellness Center in Oakton, VA. She specializes in digestive health, chronic inflammation, energy optimization and weight problems and will work with your physician and your personal goals in order to create energizing wellness for a lifetime to come. For more information, visit RoseWellness.com.