There's a five-alarm fire sounding these days about inflammation, and with good reason. Heart disease, Cancer, Alzheimer's, and acne are just some of the possible consequences of too much inflammation in the body.
It wasn’t until I learned that inflammation is a key factor in premature aging that I decided I had better pay attention to this topic. Hey, If vanity got me thinking about taking better care of my body and not just my wrinkles, then so be it.
See, vanity is good for something.
It was the same thing with sugar. I didn’t start paying attention to the effects of sugar till I found out that eating sugar causes inflammation which brings about aging. Not to mention disease. Did I mention "Death" as well?
Inflammation at one point used to be called a Senior Citizen disease. Well, it is not. Inflammation hits anyone, any time, so let me bring this “silent killer” a little closer to home so everyone can relate.
• Inflammation happens when you are 6 years old and you get a sore throat because your tonsils are infected. I remember my mom, the nurse, looking in my mouth and saying “YUP, your throat is red, your tonsils are inflamed, better get you to the doctor”.
• Inflammation happens when you fall off your 6 inch heels, twisting your ankle, making it impossible to walk. I remember being in Morocco, tripping down the stairs in a sultan’s palace turned hotel with my 6 inch Jimmy Choo’s on, twisting my ankle and having to tour the rest of Morocco via crutches and on the back of a donkey.
• Inflammation happens when you have one too many vodka Martinis and the next day you wake up puffy and swollen all over your body with your liver throbbing. Can’t say I have had the experience of that one but I do have one or two friends who have tasted first hand these types of drinking aftermaths and they have shared their experience with me. None too pretty.
Inflammation is your body’s way of saying ”WHOAAAAAAA!!! Time out partner. I need a break. Let me fix whatever is going on here”. That response is your bodies built in mechanism that naturally repairs itself. That is one of the gifts being born human. But we have fed our bodies crap. We are inundated with pollution; we have drank too many glasses of wine and taken too many drugs.
Our bodies internal Dr. McCoy has left the building. Not even the good doctor can fix the everyday maladies such as swollen feet and painful joints any more. Why? Inflammation.
Both acute Inflammation, which occurs over seconds, minutes, hours, and days (such as having a splinter in your finger where your finger turns red and gets swollen) and chronic inflammation, which occurs over longer times (like what happens to a serial drinker over time where redness and swelling happens internally and can’t be seen except for the swollen red nose or the giant Buddha belly) wreaks havoc on your body and puts you at risk of these ailments regardless of your age.
Facts about Inflammation:
The body has a natural means of reacting to injury or infection, and this is referred to as inflammation. With this defense mechanism, the body heals faster as essential nutrients are delivered to affected or painful areas.
According to Nicholas Perricone, M.D., the pioneering nutritionist and dermatologist (who wrote the book on anti-inflammation eating), our bodies actually depend on temporary inflammation to help fight off sudden injuries or infection. But when that inflammation becomes chronic, "the immune system mistakenly attacks normal cells, and the process that ordinarily heals becomes destructive."
However, whole-body type of inflammation does not serve any positive purpose to the body. In fact, as this chronic form of inflammation gets worse, it can result to a number of health problems including Heart disease, Weight gain, Body pain, types of Cancer and Arthritis. By consuming the right foods, though, it may help to keep any pains and discomfort at bay naturally.
Immune System and Inflammation:
As we age, the immune system can begin to suffer from inflammation. When the immune system becomes inflamed, well, that just opens the door to Pandora’s Box in the health and wellness area including decline in cognitive function, bone density and insulin-resistance.
Ways to Address Inflammation:
So, how do we stop this? Are there ways to KILL THE BEAST? YES!
Remember, I am like Hippocrates: "Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food". There are several foods that are effective in reducing inflammation. For instance, foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids are naturally anti-inflammatory such as Anchovies, Sardines, Mackerel, Walnuts, Flaxseeds, and Trout and Herring. Fish oil supplements are also good options, as long as these contain more omega-3s instead of higher levels of omega-6s.
Fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants are also known for their anti-aging properties while minimizing inflammation. Reach for the deep red, dark green or purple colors such as purple cabbage, spinach, kale, red peppers and turnip greens, as well as non-citrus fruits such as blueberries, papaya, cherries, apricots, strawberries and cantaloupe. Broccoli, squash and bell peppers are also loaded with antioxidants.
I also partake in a bi-annually 7 day juicing program to help keep inflammation at bay. To maintain my level of health I also drink one 24 oz. glass of green juice daily.
Below is my favorite juicing recipe filled with anti-oxidants and flavor:
1 red beet
¼ red cabbage
1 large handful parsley
1 handful cilantro
4 asparagus stalks
2-3 stalks of kale
2 stalks of celery
1 handful of buckwheat sprouts
1 large handful of alfalfa sprouts
1 chunk of ginger
Cayenne pepper to taste
Your body is an amazing organism and we have been blessed with the natural ability to heal ourselves. However, over time, and abuse, the body becomes less capable of healing itself naturally, and this can result in signs of a whole plethora of ailments and yes, premature aging.
Individuals at any age are at risk of inflammation due to poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle. So, avoid premature signs of aging and various illnesses by fighting off inflammation naturally. Eat a healthy combination of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and clean protein such as fresh lake trout and grass fed beef. Get plenty of rest, drink lots of water.
And remember, this is not a test. Every day is a day closer to being and doing the best you can.
Once you start feeling the mental and physical freedom of being inflammation free, you can look forward to experiencing a whole new way of life with a nimble mind, body and spirit.
Your next thoughts might just be: “What took me so long!”
Till next time