Unfortunately we exist in a pro-inflammatory world; overworking, overeating, overthinking, over exercising, binge drinking, smoking, high sugar, high carbs, refined grains, processed foods, trans fats, heavy metals, toxins, pharmaceutical drugs, cosmetics and emotional stress are overwhelming our immune system causing a cascade of inflammation throughout the entire body.
In an acute scenario such as an injury, bacterial infection, insect bite, sunburn or a wound, inflammation would be a first responder calling upon white blood cells and creating swelling, pain, redness and heat on the surrounding tissue stimulating the immune system to protect the body by controlling infection. The second stage of inflammation would be to support the healing process and help the damaged tissues to re-grow. Acute inflammation is a natural response and usually lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
In a chronic scenario, the body is so overwhelmed and overburdened that it can no longer turn off the inflammatory response. The excessive inflammation will often go unnoticed until the body loses its tolerance or it destroys enough tissue to create symptoms such as joint pain, muscle pain, blood sugar issues, skin issues, fatigue, allergies, asthma, hypertension etc. When the ‘ON’ switch to your immune system is stuck, it is usually the weakest genetic link of the body that will suffer; it could be the joints, liver, heart, brain or even a combination.
The evolution from the traditional hunter-gatherer diet to one containing processed, junk and convenience foods has overwhelmed our immune systems. Two-thirds of the body’s defenses are actually found within the gastrointestinal tract and unfortunately this is where the seeds of chronic inflammation begin. Symptoms such as bloating, heartburn, gas, IBS, reflux and abdominal pain are the early signs of an inflamed gut. To reduce the systemic inflammation, we must first stop fueling the fire with pro-inflammatory lifestyles, we then need to detoxify the system to reduce the overall toxic load and then follow up by supporting the body with a nutrient dense anti-inflammatory diet.
Tips for reducing the inflammation:
- Detox – The starting point for eliminating inflammation has to be to remove as much toxicity as possible. A good supervised intestinal cleanse can help to eliminate fungus, parasites and toxins from the gastro-intestinal tract, organs, joints, blood and lymph. This can be followed up with a gut healing protocol to restore digestion and heal the intestinal tract.
- Avoid GMO Foods – These foods often contain BT toxins that can actually destroy the intestinal tracts of insects if ingested. GMO foods have also been known to be a leading contributor to gut permeability (leaky gut) in humans. If the bugs wont eat something because its too toxic then neither should you.
- Go Organic – Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and other chemical toxics that are found in non-organic foods can create inflammation. Obviously finances and availability may not permit you to live a purely organic lifestyle. If you can’t buy organic at least pre-soak foods in filtered water combined with bicarbonate soda to remove the outer layer of toxins. The most pesticide laden foods, known as the ‘dirty dozen’ include apples, celery, bell peppers, peaches, strawberries, nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, cucumber, blueberries and potatoes.
- Add more raw foods – Thermal processing of foods causes a reaction between protein, fats and sugars in the food that glycates it producing Advanced Glycation End products known as AGE’s. Eating solely cooked foods that glycate can increase inflammation, cause premature aging, damage cells and trigger intestinal permeability. Sugary foods and highly processed and pre-packaged products are high in AGEs as are red meats and other animal-derived foods. Adding more raw foods and Polyphenols to your diet will dramatically reduce the damaging effects. Polyphenols include: cacao, walnuts, pomegranates, olive oil, berries, teas and some fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid Gluten – Gluten is mainly found in grains, wheat, spelt, rye and barley, it has glue like properties that allow it to attach to the intestinal wall increasing the risk of gut permeability, decreasing the absorption of nutrition and causing an inflammatory reaction.
- Avoid Hydrogenated Oils – These oils have a long shelf life and contain Trans fatty acids which are not naturally found in nature and are identified as an invader and toxin causing a spike in inflammation shortly after consumption. Examples of Hydrogenated oils include; canola oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, vegetable oil and margarine. Most process food contains inflammatory trans fats.
- These include organic blueberries, leafy greens, Alaskan salmon, walnuts, krill oil, flax, garlic, ginger, chilli, avocado, nuts, olive oil, shitake mushrooms, matcha green tea and fermented vegetables.
- Add anti-inflammatory herbs and spices such as cloves, cinnamon, oregano, sage, thyme, ginger, rosemary and turmeric. These are good sources of antioxidants and contain properties that are antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory.
Spiced Anti-Inflammatory Mocktail Recipe
- 1 Cup organic Matcha Green Tea
- 1/3 Avocado
- ½ tsp fresh Ginger
- ½ tsp Turmeric
- ½ tsp Cinnamon
- ¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper
- ½ Tbsp Coconut oil
- 1 Tbsp Chia seeds
- ½ cup of Blueberries
- A dash of Sea Salt
Boil the tea and mix all ingredients together in a blender for a potent anti-inflammatory drink that not only tastes amazing but is bursting with antioxidants, omega 3’s, vitamins, flavonoids, fibre and phytonutrients.
Rosemary Oil Recipe
Rosemary is a powerful antioxidant that can significantly inhibit an inflammatory response. To make the Rosemary oil, place a sprig of dry Rosemary leaves into a glass jar and cover with olive or coconut oil. Store the jar in a warm, dark place for the next 2 weeks, strain the Rosemary and either add to salad dressings, combine with body lotion or use to infuse bathwater.