As we talked about in my last post, Inflammation is a normal response to germs of injury. We can see inflammation, feel inflammation and measure it as local redness, swelling, and pain. This is the body’s way of getting more immune activity into an area that needs to fight off infection and ultimately heal.
As we also talked about, inflammation is very destructive. It has harmful properties, which we see when the immune system mistakenly targets the body’s own tissues in like type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Conditions like depression, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, acne, gastritis, cancer, and asthma all effect different parts of the body. But despite their geographical location, they all share one common trait…they may be caused or worsened by inflammation.
What we eat is the foundation to our wellbeing. I believe that a healthy diet is so crucial, that most people in America go through life in a pro-inflammatory state as a result of the crap they eat. I’m convinced that the single most important thing you can do to counter chronic inflammation is to stop eating processed, refined, and manufactured foods.
So what should I eat? What should I do? My research and education has lead me to these recommendations:
Low FODMAP DIET:
Carbohydrates can be present in different forms in foods, varying from long-chain carbohydrates (e.g. starch) to simple (or short chain carbohydrates/glucose) sugars that are well-digested and absorbed to produce energy. Compounding evidence is showing that a group of short-chain carbohydrates, named FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligo-saccharides, Di-saccharides, Mono-saccharides And Polyols) are problematic for those with IBS. These short-chain carbohydrates are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and rapidly fermented by bacteria in the gut. The production of gas by these bacteria is a major contributor to GI symptoms.
A Low FODMAP diet is commonly recommended for those battling gastrointestinal disorders and inflammation. The acronym FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols, which are all types of poorly absorbed carbohydrates that can cause excessive fluid and gas accumulation and exacerbate IBS, Crohn’s, and SIBO symptoms. These dietary changes can help manage symptoms and give your some digestive peace of mind. It should absolutely be included as part of your high-quality holistic treatment plan.
Fat is the building block for every cell in our body. Vitamin A, D, E, and K require fat to be absorbed, fat has antimicrobial properties, and fat makes up 50% of our cell membrane. We as humans require fat for growth, reproduction and survival. The ketogenic diet specifically impacts mechanisms responsible for chronic inflammation. Ketosis has also been shown to stimulate increased autophagy, or cellular clean-up and repair.
Cholesterol is in every hormones and because of that is required to help us maintain proper hormone function and fight inflammation. The liver makes ~75% of the cholesterol we need, and the remaining 25% comes through diet. Can you guess where we get this remaining 25% from? Animal fat.
In order to be used as energy, all food must first be converted into fat in the liver for energy. Everything we eat, proteins, carbs, fruits, vegetables, sugar is converted into fat in the form of Acetyl CoA. Acetyl CoA is code for “energy” which the cells use to make ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) in order to remain alive.
Sleep helps the entire body recharge and heal at the days end. Without sleep, the nerve cells in the brain cannot refresh, and the body does not replenish the energy lost during the day. Not only can poor sleep lead to inflammatory diseases, sleep disturbances have also been shown to increase the levels of inflammasomes. Inflammasomes are linked to chronic diseases like hypertension, heart problems, and type 2 diabetes.
Normal level of cytokines are needed for proper sleep. But when inflammation is chronic, because of enhanced production of cytokines, sleep disorders arise. It’s a vicious cycle.
Moral of the story, get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Reduce screen time prior to bed and keep the temperature in your room between 65-72.
BLOOD SUGAR CONTROL:
Blood sugar balance is critical for our cells to get nutrients and energy. Every single organ and system of our body will be affected when blood sugar is unbalanced.
In an article published in the Nutrition Clinical Journal in 2008, researched conclude that “understanding the pathophysiology driving stress hyperglycemia–the stress response and modulation of the inflammatory process-seems to be the key to improving the care of the most critically ill and injured patients.”
Immediately following a carbohydrate or sugar-rich meal, your body will have sudden spike in blood glucose levels, as well as a dramatic drop that follows, activating the systemic stress response. This triggers a spike in the inflammatory response, which is normal but not healthy on-going.
While added sugars aren’t the only source of chronic inflammation in the body, a low sugar diet is an easy way to help lower inflammation. Here are some dietary considerations for replacing insulin-spiking foods and to help reduce chronic inflammation:
Added and free sugars
Heavily processed foods, such as confectionery, refined oils, and processed meats
Brightly colored vegetable and fruit in their whole form.
Omega-3 rich oils from oily fish, walnuts, olives, flaxseed, chia and hemp seed
Leafy greens, such as spinach, arugula, and kale (they provide antioxidants and anti-inflammatory flavonoids.)
Ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon