Chronic Inflammation: The Fire Within
that there is another type of inflammation that resides in most people. It’s silent and it’s deadly; the result of the body’s natural immune response gone awry. When the body is balanced it is able to make its own anti-inflammatory agents to fight inflammation. When the body becomes imbalanced, there are no anti-inflammatory agents being produced and chronic inflammation occurs.
Chronic systemic inflammation has been called “the silent killer” because you don’t know you have it until something goes wrong like; hardening of the arteries, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, obesity, gastritis, arthritis etc.; basically all of the “aging” diseases that affect us. Of course, there are genetic components to many diseases but most diseases will not begin without the proper environment where inflammation is its nest.
The main cause of systemic inflammation is food. Diets high in saturated fats, sugars, and grains (yes, you read it correctly). A diet with a high ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 essential fatty acids will cause inflammation. Food sensitivities can also develop over time causing allergies and, alas, inflammation. Some medications can actually cause systemic inflammation like anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat the arthritis-type of inflammation. When taken for prolonged periods of time, these medications can cause gastrointestinal distress, resulting in chronic inflammation.
So, how do you know if you have systemic inflammation? The easiest way, is by having a simple blood test. The test is called: Highly sensitive C-reactive protein (hs-CRP). The number correlates with your chance of having a cardiac event. The goal is to keep it below 1.0. Some of the early symptoms found in younger people include poor healing time, fatigue, weight gain, poor finger nail growth, achiness.
Prevention and treatment of chronic inflammation are one and the same: proper nutrition. If you have systemic inflammation, your diet got you there and the PROPER diet will take you out of it. Before getting overwhelmed when you read the suggestions, think 90/10. 90% of the time, you’ll resort to a basic wholesome diet. The other 10% accounts for holidays, special occasions, cravings, dinner parties etc.
Dietary suggestions to prevent/treat systemic inflammation:
- eat fish (wild, cold-water types) once per week
- supplement with a good, clean (pharmaceutical grade)fish oil (capsules or liquid) everyday
- limit the saturated fats you ingest (cheese, creams, sauces, butter, spreads and red meat and all animal products)
- eliminate fried foods and margarines
- limit fast foods and processed foods – a direct correlation exists between inflammation and ingesting potato chips on a frequent basis.
- learn to cook with beans and lentils for a wholesome, long-lasting carbohydrate that will give you lots of energy and fiber
- limit grains; think bread: white AND wheat as well as cereal, pasta, and rice
- severely limit sugar intake
- switch to organic free-range eggs and chicken
The other essential ingredient is exercise, of course!
Making life-long changes in the diet is a difficult thing for people to do. There are many reasons people eat the way they do; emotions, habit, convenience etc. If you can incorporate these suggestions, you will help yourself by becoming a healthier, happier, and more energetic person. And, you will prevent the age-associated diseases. Remember the 90/10 law of eating. You’ll find that the 10% will mean less to you over time. Changing your diet is a very fair trade when you consider all of the suffering that comes with the process of unhealthy aging. The body will reverse many of these illnesses but you have to make the change before it’s too late.