In life, we’re constantly bombarded by opinions. Bad or good; happy or angry; exciting or annoying. We’re easily swayed one way or another- not taking too long to really think about every piece of advice we read (because who has time for that?)
But maybe we’ve been swayed the wrong way. Maybe the headlines were misleading. Maybe we didn’t get the whole story.
Take this headline for example. Did you think I was about to ignite your passion for life? I love that idea! But I want to twist it and use the imagery to address another HOT topic that affects each one of us: inflammation.
We hear terms like “fight inflammation,” “anti-inflammatory,” and use the suffix “itis.” These all reflect negativity. Inflammation sounds like the enemy. Bad. Angry. Annoying. Stop inflammation in it’s tracks! Inflammation triggers pain, discomfort, irritation; infection, injury, illness. Connected to the majority of chronic diseases, inflammation plagues our country.
Arthritis (joints). Bronchitis (lining of bronchial tubes). Colitis (colon). Dermatitis (skin). We all agree we must address these unpleasant inflammatory diseases/disorders. But is inflammation the culprit or the army that rushes in to our defense? Instead of blaming the fire for the damage, let’s address the match that started the very first flame.
Inflammation is our soldier- the hot firefighter, if you will. When our body is in crisis, our immune system initiates a firestorm. T-cells, white blood cells, lymphatic fluid, water, and blood rush in to combat intruders, flush the area, and remove toxins. This is a normal process – our one and only line of defense that keeps us alive. Inflammation alerts us that there is a problem and that our body is taking care of it, but we need to ensure we do our part to support our army.
Acute inflammation and chronic inflammation are very different. With acute inflammation, our system is responding to an immediate threat. The threat is eradicated quickly and we heal in a matter of hours to days – as in bumps, bruises, breaks, or tears. Chronic inflammation signifies long term irritation which requires on-going attention from our immune system. When dealing with chronic inflammation, our body needs a constant supply of energy, resources, and attention. The inflammation sends us a message to pay attention and take action.
Chronic inflammation occurs when foods, chemicals, internal injuries, or poor digestion triggers the immune system into a “heightened alert mode” Our body works tirelessly to remove toxins, fight invaders, restructure, and bring nourishment to the wounded area. (Bauman, 2012). We continue to go about our day, taking in chemicals from our food system, lifestyle, and environment. We keep adding inflammatory foods that our body has tagged as foreign invaders. We work at our normal pace, even though our body needs the energy stores to heal. We ignore the inflammation and take ibuprofen to alleviate the symptoms.
Overtime, the chronically inflamed organs and tissues begin to degenerate. Our body works to fight the initial issue while we continue to develop an overload of toxins, acid buildup, and depletion of vital nutrients in other areas. Soon enough, we don’t have enough soldiers to fight all of the flames. All organs, organ systems, and tissues can be affected: The intestines, heart, kidneys, pancreas, joints, skin, and bones can all suffer. IBS, Crohn’s disease, allergies, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, lupus, and even some forms of cancer call all stem from chronic inflammation (Rowe 2008)
Inflammation is the body working hard to heal itself; inflammation is not the enemy. It’s time to start chasing the match.
Ten Preventable Sources of Inflammation Commonly Encountered Daily
Identifying the potential triggers is the first step to healing. Take note of each area and how it applies to your daily life. One step at a time, begin to make improvements.
- Highly processed foods – trans fats, refined sugars, processed meats, artificial sweeteners
- GMO and Chemically Treated Foods – recognized as foreign invaders and toxins in your body. The body works to eliminate.
- Eating the Same Foods Daily – certain foods are more acidic or alkaline; some are more reactive as they build up in your system; eating the same reduces nutrient density in diet
- Constant Stress – when constantly under stress (physical or emotional) our body is in “fight or flight” mode, which triggers the high alert response. Without a balance of “rest & digest,” we cannot allow our system to reset and utilize energy to work on repairing other daily concerns.
- Lack of Sleep – this is the time for our body to repair each organ system from daily work. Without sleep or with limited sleep, our body cannot finish the daily task which builds up over time.
- Over Eating – often caused when our body is missing nutrients and craving more to fill in the gaps. We often don’t feed ourselves with the missing nutrients, but instead continue to build up the foods triggering more of an issue. Our body cannot keep up with our bad habits.
- Not Chewing Properly – digestion begins in the mouth. The faster we eat, the less we chew, the more our digestive tract need to work to break down food and the less we will assimilate the nutrients in our foods. Immunity is directly linked to gut health.
- Omega 3 vs Omega 6 Fatty Acid Imbalances – Om3 reduces inflammation while Om6 triggers inflammation & blood clotting. Om6 is highly refined and shelf stable in the standard American diet (refined vegetable oils, soybean oil, shortening). Most do not get enough Om3 (cold water fish, olives, flax)
- Chemically Laden Daily Hygiene Products – body washes, toothpastes, lotions, makeup, perfumes, nail polish, aftershave
- Home Care Products – cleaning products, candles, air fresheners, solutions, pesticides
Nature has an antidote to heal us: food. By choosing foods and natural products that support anti-inflammation and overall health, we choose to support our army. Inflammation is not the enemy – we are our own enemy. Let’s begin to thank our body for working so hard. Let’s stop adding work to the desk. Let’s stop blaming the fire and start chasing the match. We often hold the match – so let’s choose the match that lights our health, not the firestorm of chronic inflammation.
Want to learn more ways to tackle inflammation in your life?
Check out our event Tame The Flame: Fighting Inflammation with Food www.tametheflame.eventbrite.com