'Inflammation' means to ignite or set alight. According to Wikipedia, inflammation is part of the complex biological response of our cells to harmful stimuli. Inflammation is generally good in that it is a protective attempt by the organism to remove the stimuli and to start the healing process. However, if it carries on for too long it can compromise the health and functioning of the person. If the overall level of inflammation gets too high, disease is bound to flourish.
Everyday we put foods in our mouths without being, even vaguely, aware of what they are doing to our bodies. Are they promoting the health of our cells and organs or causing an inflammatory process to be set in motion? This is the question we need to ask ourselves every time we eat. We all have varying levels of inflammation in our bodies. Most of the time, these are areas where something has gone wrong and healing needs to take place.
It can be an obvious condition such as an inflamed gut or skin condition. Equally, it can be hidden and insidious such as the beginnings of cancer or brain lesions in MS. Our goal with his way of eating, is to keep the overall level of inflammation in the body to a minimum. We do this by eating anti-inflammatory foods and avoiding those that are pro-inflammatory. In this way we keep the overall level of inflammation in our bodies to a minimum, which helps prevent the formation of disease.
Foods that heal are anti-inflammatory and have the effect of calming areas of damage and promoting recovery.
My experience with anti-inflammatory foods has been nothing short of incredible. I have discovered foods that make me feel energetic, nourished and improve my symptoms almost immediately! For example, I enjoy including an inch of ginger in my raw juice. Ginger is a potent anti-inflammatory food. It has a certain ‘zing’ to it that gets me going for the day. I can seriously compare it to drinking coffee, only instead of the caffeine high I am on a nutrient high! I feel great after eating unprocessed, natural foods. My favourites are green smoothies, berries, nuts salads and lightly steamed veg.
Many people have been witness to the significant healing impact that an anti-inflammatory diet can have on the prevention and treatment of chronic illnesses such as cancer, autoimmune conditions, heart disease and many others. I get emails every day from people who are amazed at the change they feel after just a few weeks of eating this way.
Their once inflamed cells and tissues have calmed and are now healing. They experience an increase in energy, clearer thinking, improved sleep and a decrease in their symptoms.
It’s all about helping the body decrease inflammation.
At a cellular level, our bodies create both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory chemicals, called “prostaglandins” from nutrients in the food that we eat. Too many pro-inflammatory foods can lead to the production of excessive amounts of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins. Obviously, this fuels your body’s pro-inflammatory response and leads to symptoms.
On a more positive note, when we eat certain nutrients, like omega-3 fatty acids, our bodies produce more anti-inflammatory prostaglandins, which cause a reduction in inflammation.
Essentially, there are two main objectives we are trying to achieve with the Living Lifestyle.
- Avoid foods that are going to trigger an activation of the pro-inflammatory response.
- Include foods that are going to have an anti-inflammatory effect on our bodies. This will help any areas of inflammation to decrease and heal quicker, thus speeding up recovery from annoying and painful symptoms.
But how do we know which foods are anti-inflammatory and which are pro-inflammatory? Some are easy to work out. For instance, we know we should be avoiding gluten, dairy, refined sugar, heated and saturated fats. Others are not so obvious.
The basic rule of thumb is that the less processed and more natural a food is, the more anti-inflammatory it will be. There is also a breakthrough system of working out just how inflammatory a particular food is.
THE INFLAMMATION RATING SYSTEM
Monica Reinegal is a nutritional researcher, IF Rating System in 2006 to help us work out which foods are pro-inflammatory and which are anti-inflammatory. She first introduced the concept of the “IF Rating” in her book, ‘The Inflammation Free Diet Plan‘. She explains the “IF Rating” for each food can be worked out using a number of factors, the primary ones being:
- The amount and type of fat content
- Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio
- Composition of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
- Glycaemic load
- Presence of other anti-inflammatory compounds
THE BEST AND THE WORST
Here is a quick list of the top anti-inflammatory foods you should embrace, and pro-inflammatory foods that you should avoid:
Top Anti-inflammatory Foods:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Wild Caught Salmon
- Shiitake Mushrooms
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- Peppers & Chillies
Top Pro-inflammatory Foods
- Sunflower Oil
- Deep Fried Foods
- Dairy Products
- Red Meat
- Artificial Food additives
- Wheat & Gluten
- Refined Grains
SUMMING IT UP
When we have a wound on the outside of our bodies, it’s easy to be motivated to look after it and reduce the inflammation. Damage inside our bodies, is pretty much the same thing: an inflamed patch of tissue that is causing us pain and discomfort. If only we could see how the food we eat affects inflammation and healing, we would probably be motivated enough to go straight to the kitchen and dispose of anything that would make it worse. However, many of us live blind to the harm that certain foods are doing and we wonder why our symptoms are getting worse when we don’t follow a healthy diet.
Let’s open our eyes and be aware of what we are putting in our mouths every time we eat. Following the Living Lifestyle (link: http://www.kimslivingkitchen.com/#!living/p73dg) will help you with this process of reducing the inflammation and promoting healing.
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