Inflammation is a bit of a nebulous term that seems to get thrown around in relation to a bunch of health concerns, and really isn’t only what happens when you walk into the open bottom drawer in the kitchen or think you can get between the chair and desk but end up whacking your leg. We know it well – the sore, hot, red and swollen bump that comes from that or any injury. Well it hurts, right?
You’re right in putting two and two together and thinking that pain from a sore throat, stuffy nose, a cut or wound or even a sore tooth comes from inflammation. That’s called acute inflammation and we feel it. This slightly vague term inflammation gets talked about as the core or foundation of all disease, which might make you wonder if your heart has a boo boo. So let’s clarify that what’s called chronic inflammation is at the foundation of all diseases. Diseases like heart disease (that includes cholesterol, blood pressure, blocked arteries, stroke and heart attack), cancer, obesity and diabetes. There’s also arthritis, asthma, eczema, any other skin issue (including rash and acne) and any autoimmune disease like Crohn’s and Colitis (which involves your immune system mistakenly attacking healthy tissue in your gut). Lesser known issues include depression and mental health issues. Yep, that was a newer understanding for me too.
Let’s put it this way – that heat you feel when you whack your leg is just like the constant fire that’s smoldering internally. That’s chronic inflammation. And can you believe it’s there because it’s your body’s process of trying to protect and heal itself? This is a broad topic that needs a lot more attention than it receives, in my opinion. So today on EAT THIS with Lianne, what is inflammation? What is it doing to you? And what can you do about it? I’ve asked a very clever nutrition colleague to join me in this conversation too.
Inflammation can be called a silent killer. Unlike that bruise on your leg, you don’t feel the inflammation that’s causing your high blood pressure or replicating cancer cells because you can’t see or feel it on the outside. And when was the last time you did a check in with your doctor, asking for a blood test to check your level of C-reactive protein? C-reactive protein is a marker that indicates whether chronic inflammation might be wreaking havoc on your body. You likely have symptoms like tiredness, that you put down to a crappy night’s sleep. That could be from inflammation, but where did the crappy night’s sleep come from? A root cause of inflammation or is the crappy sleep causing inflammation? It’s the health version of the chicken or the egg.
First, I spoke with a clever colleague who has written books about anti-inflammatory diets and really focused on this topic. Julie Daniluk is a fellow Nutritionist and TV personality, and she’s also an award-winning and bestselling author. Her books include, Meals That Heal Inflammation and Slimming Meals That Heal. Her third book, Hot Detox, was on the Canadian Bestseller’s list for 11 weeks in 2017 and she has a new book coming out in the fall. Make sure to listen to the episode to hear the gems Julie shared and get a bunch of ideas of what to eat (or not eat) next. The body truly knows what to do to heal itself, we need to give it what it needs to do that, and if you haven’t heard me say it before, diet is within your control; within your power to make a difference, even though it might not feel like it.
10 INFLAMMATION CLUES FROM YOUR BODY
This list was written by Naturopath Kellyann Petrucci on MindBodyGreen.com and her experience summed it up beautifully.
- You have a “spare tire” around your waist: Fat cells in the abdomen churn out inflammatory chemicals—and the more belly fat you have, the more of these chemicals they create. In fact, cardiovascular medicine expert Peter Libby, MD, calls belly fat a “hotbed” of inflammation.
- You have high blood glucose levels: High blood sugar increases the numbers of inflammatory cytokines circulating in your blood. It also increases your levels of destructive molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which are pro-inflammatory.
- You have digestive problems like gas, diarrhea, bloating, or constipation: These can stem from a sick, inflamed, overly permeable gut—and a leaky gut that allows toxins to escape into your bloodstream is one of the leading cause of chronic, body-wide inflammation.
- You’re tired all the time: Inflamed cells are sick cells, and they can’t produce the energy you need to feel refreshed and invigorated. As a result, you feel fatigued even when you first get out of bed—and by afternoon, you’re exhausted.
- You have skin problems like eczema or psoriasis, or your skin is red and blotchy: This could be an external sign of internal fire. (This is why there’s a powerful link between psoriasis and inflammatory conditions that manifest internally, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.)
- You have allergies: If you’re always battling watery eyes and a runny nose, you could be chronically inflamed.
- Your face is puffy, or you have puffy bags under your eyes: This is a common sign of internal inflammation.
- You have gum disease: This is another outward clue of internal inflammation.
- You’re depressed, anxious, or suffering from “brain fog”: Inflammation could affect your brain chemistry, causing changes in how you think and feel.
- If you’re a man, you have erectile dysfunction: Chronic inflammation could be a cause of this problem.
I don’t know about you, but I identify with some of that list. Is it going to stop me from having my afternoon shortbread when the craving hits? It just might. The “it’ll never happen to me” thinking is not helpful because any or all of the above could happen to you. So, is the trade off worth it?
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
To sum up what you can do, even if it’s one change at a time:
- Cut out highly inflammatory foods, like sugar and grains, out of your diet.
- Eat more lean protein, like poultry rather than red meat.
- Half your plate needs to be piled high with colourful vegetables, including those greens.
- Eat healthy fats from nuts, seeds and butters, like almond butter and also fish.
- Include those colourful fruits, like berries and even dried goji berries (they’re also found in my Take This by Lianne KID BOOST and SKIN BOOST).
- Work on your gut by drinking meat broth (recipe in Sprout Right Family Food) and take a probiotic (like my Take This by Lianne BIO BOOST).
- Then there’s daily exercise, get enough sleep, and de-stress yourself with meditation. Lower your body’s burden of toxic chemicals and you’ll turn down the flame another notch.
This sounds like a lot and you could be overwhelmed, but the premise of this podcast and show is to empower you to be in charge. To take your health into your own hands and decide to EAT THIS, one mouthful at a time. And I truly mean that.
Share this with whoever you know needs to hear it. Rate it on whatever platform you’re listening on and reach out to @sproutright or @liannephillipson social channels. Let’s keep this conversation going.