As if our human bodies weren't strange enough, the process by which the body regularly heals and detoxifies itself can also lead to life-threatening illnesses. The culprit: Inflammation. The dilemma: Without it, stubbed toes and runny noses don't heal; inflammation is the body's natural healing ability—essentially removing the injury to allow for recovery—but it can also accumulate in the body in a chronic fashion, leading to serious illnesses such as arthritis, obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Harvard Medical School research found that inflammation becomes chronic because of an imbalanced immune system. Mast cells are normal immune cells that in healthy individuals repair damaged cells. But in individuals with obesity and diabetes, mast cells accumulate in fat and can actually leak into tissue and start to cause serious damage.
The good news is that your diet and lifestyle choices can help you outsmart your body's glitch mechanism and prevent—even reverse—the effects of chronic inflammation.
Reduce Inflammation Causing Foods
Red meat, dairy, processed foods, alcohol, sugar… we love to love them, but they're some of the leading causes of inflammation in the body. This is due largely to the high incidence of Omega-6 fatty acids found in processed foods and animal products. While Omega-6 (like from hemp) is crucial for our health, too much can cause chronic inflammation.
Water is important for every cell of our bodies, and it's especially powerful in flushing out toxins and inflammation. Caffeinated beverages and alcohol can dehydrate leading to more inflammation.
Adding Healthy Omega Fats
Essential fatty acids, like the Omega-3s found in hemp or flax oil, support the body's anti-inflammatory response and reduce chronic inflammation. They can aid in pain management from chronic arthritis or acute injuries.
Getting Friendly with Bacteria
Cultures around the globe have eaten fermented or cultured foods since antiquity. The Standard American Diet has replaced these traditional foods for sugary, fatty, saltier versions that are often void of the necessary probiotics that protect and support the digestive system. Whether adding in cultured foods such as kimchee, sauerkraut or tempeh, or using a probiotic supplement, this can be a great aid in treating and preventing chronic inflammation.
Tapping the Power Plants
The plant kingdom is loaded with powerful healers, from plant enzymes in pineapple (bromelain) to turmeric (the seasoning in Indian food), which is loaded with curcuminoids—powerful anti-inflammatory compounds. Ginger is another powerful inflammation fighter that can be incorporated easily into your diet or taken as a supplement.
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Image: Randy Le'Moine Photography