Inflammation is known as the silent killer. Most people think of inflammation as a sprained ankle or an injured muscle, which is acute inflammation. Acute inflammation is a normal and natural process to an injury in the body. I’m talking about a different kind of inflammation; it’s called chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is at the cellular level and is dangerous to our health. Most diseases today are caused by chronic cellular inflammation. The majority of the people in our country suffer from chronic cellular inflammation. Inflammation causes our bodies to age prematurely and can actually damage our DNA. We can make choices in our lives, particularly in our nutrition choices that can decrease inflammation, help our hormones and positively affect our DNA expression.
What is Inflammation and Why is it Important to our Health?
We have about 10 trillion cells in our bodies. If our cells are healthy, we are healthy. If our cells are sick, we are sick.
One of the most important part of the cell is our cell membrane. Our cell membrane is made up of a bi-lipid membrane. That means two layers of fat. Our cell membrane is composed of all fat. We have receptors on our cells that are like antennas that listen for signals for amino acids, vitamins, minerals and hormones. When our cells are healthy we have information incoming (import) and information leaving the cell (exporting) as needed.
When our cells become inflamed the signal on the receptors become blunted to the communication. The receptors work poorly and if the cell is too inflamed, then the receptors can shut down. Then nutrients don’t enter the cell and at the same time waste doesn’t leave the cell. It makes for a toxic cell. The cell membranes of the mitochondria located inside of the cell can also get inflamed. When they are inflamed, it affects cellular energy, known as ATP. Our cells use ATP to function. Any process our body does requires ATP. When our cells get chronically inflamed they can do two things. One, they can mutate. A mutated cell is also known as a cancerous cell. Two, they die. When too many cells die it’s called aging. Premature aging.
All of this inflammation produces symptoms, and over time can lead to disease processes such as heart disease, thyroid disease, hormonal conditions, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, neurological disorders and more.
What causes inflammation of the cell? Three main things: Sugar, Bad Fats and Toxins.
- Sugar and things that turn to sugar: Sugar is a major source of inflammation. Examples of sugar are white sugar, cane sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, powdered sugar, rice syrup, molasses and high fructose corn syrup. When I talk about sugar I also mean things that turn to sugar. Grains also turn to sugars. Studies show that grains turn to sugar in 5-8 seconds after being in your mouth. Grain examples are pastas, breads, wheat, barley, rice, oatmeal, buckwheat, quinoa and corn. About 2/3 of our sugar intake is from hidden sources: condiments, sauces, dips, crackers, canned foods, pizza sauces, deli meats, yogurt and packaged/ processed food. Sugar is inflammatory and is an anti-nutrient. That means that it blocks your nutrient receptors and doesn’t allow for nutrient uptake. Everyone can benefit from following a sugar-free diet. Once health goals are met you can add in some raw honey and dates as long as your body can handle them. Alternative sweeteners to use is stevia and birch xylitol.
- Bad Fats: Fats are extremely healthy and necessary for your body. We need fats for our cell membranes (It decreases inflammation and is cell food). We also need it for our brain, our nerves, our joints and every part of our body. Bad fats are hydrogenated oils, partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats, canola oil, soybean oil, vegetable oils, margarine, shortening and peanut oil. Good fats include coconut oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, butter, avocado oil, nuts and seed oil, sesame oil and red palm oil.
- Toxins: This is a hot topic and one I can’t fully explain in just one paragraph. We live in a very toxic world and our bodies are put through an onslaught of toxins on a daily basis. We have so many other toxins which include heavy metals, biotoxins from mold, toxins in our air and water, cleaning products, personal care products and chemicals added into products we are around daily (ex carpets, clothing, fragrances). There are many toxins in our foods; MSG, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, and chemicals we can’t even pronounce. By changing your diet and cutting out toxic processed foods, you will cut out all of the toxic additives added into foods too. Just remember to keep reading labels.
What can you do to decrease inflammation?
If you change your diet you can dramatically decrease your inflammation levels. Sometimes up to 80% of your symptoms can go away with just diet changes alone. That’s pretty amazing, huh? It’s the cellular healing diet, by healing our cells we heal our bodies. If we don’t fix our cells we can’t get our bodies well.
You can start by reducing inflammation over the course of time by greatly reducing and/or eliminating inflammatory foods. Start with cutting out sugar and things that turn to sugar. Take out the sugars and grains that you are eating. This will make a profound impact on your inflammation and your health. Be aware though, you will most likely have some type of sugar withdrawal symptoms. It is common to have headaches, fatigue, trouble sleeping, periods of low blood sugar, and a mood shift. I want to let you know so you can push through them. They will only last 3-7 days. After that, eating no sugar will become much easier.
Switching your fats and oils is a little easier shift. I call them a lateral shift. You switch the current oils you use to better ones. For example: margarine to butter and canola oil to coconut oil. It’s harder when buying foods. Check marinara sauces, dressings, dips, nut butters, deli meats. Get used to reading all labels for bad oils and any added sugars. You’d be surprised what they add to foods.
I am so passionate about healthy eating and reducing inflammation. I want you to implement this one step at a time, make a plan and give yourself grace. Don’t let it overwhelm you, make it fun! I also want you to believe that you are worth making this change in your food choices and ultimately in your health. This is life changing! This information on inflammation is powerful and it will change your life.
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