A Journey to Eliminate Inflammation
Not that long ago I was in a fair amount of discomfort every day in my shoulder, upper back and neck. It started with a shoulder injury and then snowballed for a few months. Everything was triggered and tight – congested for lack of a better word. I was still working out – I don’t feel good if I don’t work out. I was taking it easy though. I saw the chiropractor and my massage therapist each a few times. The relief was short lived and they both could feel the congestion in my body. It was hard to get at the triggered muscles underneath.
Sweets – what’s your kryptonite?
Generally, I eat far less processed food than the average person and I try to eat super clean – most of the time. My biggest weakness is sweets of all kinds. Cookies, ice cream, brownies – you name it. I did a 21 Day Detox in February but had fallen off the clean eating wagon. I was eating gluten during at least one meal a day and really yummy sweets a few times a week on top of the little sugar here or there that snuck in daily.
At first, I balked when my sisters mentioned doing an anti-inflammatory diet. Elimination diets can be very hard, and I just did one not that long ago. But I was having that pain, so after doing a few days of research on what we could eat, decided it was worth a try.
We were creating our own plan from doing research on foods that trigger inflammation. We knew it takes two weeks for food to completely leave your system thanks to Dr. Erica Lepore, creator of the 21 Day Detox Plan. So, we figured we needed to do at least two weeks and then some food testing to isolate quick inflammation triggers.
In Part 2 of this series, I’ll share our results. In Part 3, I’ll give the diet details and in Part 4 I’ll explain what you can eat and give some helpful recipes. This diet is not as hard as other elimination diets I’ve done, so it is easier to stay on it once you get the hang of it.
Why does inflammation happen?
Inflammation is one of our body’s natural defense mechanisms that help it fight against potential harm. These could be in the form of infections, injuries, and even toxins. It’s part of the body’s immune system – a response that is meant to promote healing and recovery.
Inflammation in and of itself is not bad. Even acute inflammation is not bad. Acute inflammation happens when our bodies need to do some repair. Tissue damaged from an injury and the stuffy head from colds, other illnesses, or exposure to allergens is actually meant to help us recover!
So, if inflammation isn’t bad, what’s the problem?
The problem is chronic inflammation. This is a result of too much stress in our lives – in all forms: physical stress, mental stress, emotional stress, chemical stress, etc.
Unfortunately, when we overload on stressors, the immune system can get overwhelmed, and it increases the inflammation response and doesn’t seem to shut it off. Chronic inflammation is at the root of many illnesses and physical maladies.
Why does diet effect inflammation?
Here’s the bad news: our modern diet is often the cause of the chemical stressors and toxins that lead to chronic inflammation. It is low in nutrients and high in inflammatory foods that wreak havoc on our systems. The good news is that cleaning up your diet can reverse the effects of inflammation, helping your body to reduce inflammation and sometimes remove it all together!
Pass on Pesticides – Choose Organic
Pesticides and other toxins are sprayed on our food, as well as on the food of the animals we eat. A quick google search brought me to Beyond Pesticides – an entire website dedicated to demonstrating the links between pesticides and many diseases and illnesses, including those that chronic inflammation plays a role in causing.
White Sugar – The White Devil
Processed white sugar is one of the biggest issues in our diets. You may not know this, but unless stated, sugar on labels is from sugar beets, a toxic GMO crop. It rarely comes from sugar cane anymore. It is easy to become addicted to, and they put that $*!# in everything. I don’t even miss it in my clean versions of salad dressing, condiments, tomato sauces and so much more. Honestly, you will not miss the sugar if you buy sugar free mustard and ketchup. Numerous studies have linked white sugar to chronic inflammation, whether it is from sugar beets or cane sugar.
Gluten & Processed Foods, Oh My!
Gluten is another biggie. Many people know they need to eat a gluten free diet because of glaring health issues. Many others have a sensitivity to gluten and can eat it, but they don’t feel good after because of leaky gut, upset stomach or other symptoms. Again, there are oodles of articles on gluten and chronic inflammation.
Overly processed foods are the last major culprit of inflammation in our bodies and encompasses much of the modern diet, including most of the cooking oils on the market. This processing of food is how many chemical toxins make their way into our diets and how most of the nutrients are removed from our food.
Check back in a few days for Part 2 Where I share our results from doing an anti-inflammatory diet for just 2 weeks!