Stop inflammation now
If you’ve ever jammed your finger, sprained your ankle or scraped your knee, chances are you’re familiar with inflammation. The accompanying redness, swelling, and pain are definite indicators that inflammation is happening. Why does inflammation occur? Simple. It is the activation of the immune system in response to infection, irritation or injury. It is a protective attempt by our body to remove harmful invaders and begin a healing process for the affected area. Read more to find out how to stop inflammation NOW!
We seem to be in the middle of a medical revolution where researchers are now linking inflammation to a growing array of chronic illnesses. Inflammation can involve every cell in your body and may be at the root of some of the deadliest diseases of the 21st century, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. There’s also emerging research that links chronic inflammation to allergies, asthma, digestive disorders, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis and neuro-degenerative disease. Individuals who tend toward anger, hostility, and depression have also shown increased systemic inflammation, putting them at risk for heart disease and numerous other conditions.
Macrobiotics has long recognized that inflammation plays a central role in disease and aging, and that controlling and reversing inflammation is critical to good, balanced health. Although chronic inflammation may be a relatively new idea to conventional medicine, it’s old hat in the traditional medicines of India and China. And while it’s true that Western science hasn’t worked out every step in the biology of chronic inflammation, we already know a great deal about how to reduce inflammation to promote health.
Inflammation from Simple Sugars & Insulin Swings
From a dietary perspective, the biggest culprit in causing abnormal inflammation is the pathetic “standard American diet” of heavily processed convenience and packaged fast foods. Simple sugar foods, such as refined white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, agave, barley malt, rice syrup, and molasses elevate blood sugar, creating an insulin release along with free radicals that result in oxidized fats. When oxidized, the fats form plaque deposits in our arterial walls, leading to a number of disease conditions. Current research is showing that a diet high in refined sugars and excessive refined flours can actually lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Insulin swings in the blood also increases stored body fat and the release of pro-inflammatory chemicals which cause cell damage and accelerated aging. While honey and fruit juice don’t immediately raise blood sugar they can still, being simple sugars, promote inflammation.
Inflammation from Meats & Fat Consumption
Unhealthy fats used in preparing and processing commercial foods, especially trans fats and saturated fats, contribute to inflammation. Processed meats such as lunchmeats, hot dogs and sausages contain chemicals such as nitrites that are associated with increased inflammation and chronic disease. Saturated fats are also found in meats, dairy products and eggs. For whatever sources of vitamins and minerals these foods may provide, our bodies really don’t need the extra saturated fat. Trans fats are also included in this category.
Inflammation from Nightshade Vegetables
There has been much written regarding the role of the “nightshade” family of foods. Norman Childers, PhD, and a Florida horticulturist, originally made the connection between rheumatoid arthritis and nightshades, discovering that by eliminating these foods he had cured his own arthritis. According to Childers, this is due to a chemical alkaloid that nightshades contained called, solanine. While his theory–that long-term consumption of the alkaloids in potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, paprika, cayenne, and tobacco inhibit collagen and cartilage repair–has never been clinically proven, it is true that many patients have found relief from inflammatory and arthritic symptoms when they’ve eliminated these foods. But, not everyone reacts to Nightshades in the same way. If you tend to have inflammation, or arthritis, avoiding these vegetables for several weeks is usually a sufficient amount of time to determine if this applies to you.
Inflammation from Food Additive Chemicals & Colorings
Food additive chemicals such as nitrites, benzoates, and MSG are now known to exaggerate inflammation. Food colorings that give food an inviting appearance can also be harmful and toxic for the liver. Common food colorings are usually listed on the food labels as: FD&C Blue #1, FD&C Blue #2, FD&C Green #3, FD&C Red #40, FD&C Red #3, FD&C Yellow #5, FD&C Yellow #6 and Orange B (restricted to use in hot dog casings). Other common food additives are high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium benzoate, sodium nitrite and nitrate, and trans fats.
Inflammation from Food Allergies & Gluten Proteins
Certain food reactions can stimulate an allergic response where the immune system releases massive amounts of chemicals, including histamines, to protect the body. These chemicals can trigger a cascade of allergic symptoms that affect the respiratory and cardiovascular system, the gastrointestinal tract and skin. Allergic reactions have a variety of symptoms including: mouth and tongue swelling, shortness of breath, cramps, diarrhea, mouth tingling, skin breakouts and more. The most common allergy trigger foods that foster inflammation are: wheat, eggs, nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, dairy, corn, shellfish, chocolate and many other foods. Celiac disease is a condition where an individual cannot tolerate gluten proteins found in most wheat products and instantly develops inflammatory symptoms. The core culprits are: wheat, rye, barley and commercial buckwheat.
Inflammation from Herbs
Some herbs, such as echinacea, ginseng, reishi, and astragalus, may be too stimulating to an already overactive immune system. This can result in inflammation.
Halting & Reversing Inflammation
On the flip side, some research has shown that fatty acids, often found in fish, nuts and seeds and their oils, and fruits and vegetables can help prevent inflammation. But again, the main concern should first focus on the dietary factors that aggravate inflammation. High protein, excessive fats (trans fats and saturated), too many simple sugars, excess alcohol, food chemicals, and some nightshades, all play their part in creating inflammation and the conditions that evolve from this reaction. A macrobiotically oriented diet of grains, beans, vegetables and fruits, in moderate volumes combined with optional small amounts of animal proteins is the best insurance toward halting and in many cases, reversing inflammation.
“First do no harm,” said the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates. The wisdom in that statement should be the first rule of healing and reversing inflammation.