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On the Coast Magazine

Are Things Heating Up?

07/04/2014 03:12PM ● Published by Melanie Teague

By Crystal Tingle

Lately I have heard lots of chatter about the word inflammation. Now, before you think this doesn’t apply to you, you might just want to keep reading. It’s a pretty hot topic right now both in the scientific world and in the popular press. It’s true that things are really heating up on the outside. But for many people, things are heating up on the inside as well and this is not a good thing. I personally know so many women right now who are afflicted with this issue that it is almost alarming. If you’ve read anything about it, you probably know that it’s supposed to be bad for your health. But what is it, anyway? What causes it, how does it damage your body and what can you do to prevent the damage? 

Inflammation in itself is actually a good call-to-action by our bodies to fight infection. It is a function of the immune system. It is the body’s natural response to an “invasion” by something “foreign,” something that the immune system does not recognize as normal such as when you have an infection, get a splinter or injure some part of your body. 

Heat is one of the four classic symptoms of inflammation. The other three are pain, redness and swelling. These symptoms let you know that something is going on in your body and allow you to take action. The problem is when this inflammation goes on within your body without causing these four classic symptoms. This kind of non-symptomatic inflammation is often called “silent” or “chronic” inflammation and begins to create a chain reaction in the body. Silent inflammation is known to play a role in cancer, heart disease and other life-threatening illnesses. 

But what I have seen lately and mostly in women and, what researchers are finding more and more, is that these disease states are a result of inflammation that begins in the gut, lending itself to adrenal fatigue, which sets our bodies on a path to one or more of these chronic diseases. Symptoms seem to present in the beginning as extreme fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, increased allergies, skin problems and extreme hormonal changes.  Unaware that the culprit is actually inflammation, women become increasingly frustrated not knowing what is going on with their bodies. Some, due to age, attribute it to menopause and tolerate these symptoms for months.  They are often initially misdiagnosed when the cause is actually adrenal fatigue and/or thyroid dysfunction as a result of inflammatory particles attacking these glands.

Since inflammation is a normal function of the immune system, you cannot completely prevent it, but silent, chronic, long-term inflammation may be preventable and even reversed through changes in diet and lifestyle. Because much of this is caused by both physical and mental stress, poor diet, and some environmental factors, altering these alone will aid in affecting healing and even prevention. And of course, if any of this feels familiar, you should see your doctor for a complete medical evaluation and diagnosis. Here are some helpful steps to quenching the flames inside:


1. Take time each day to relax and shut off your brain. Take a nap, go for a walk, or read a book. Bottom line is decompress!
2. Try to remove yourself from as many environmental pollutants as you can. Tobacco smoke and household chemicals are two biggies. 
3. Finally and most important is implementing dietary changes. Our western diet wreaks havoc on our gut. The good news is there are many natural anti-inflammatories found in alternative food choices. It is as simple as replacing the inflammation-causing foods in your current diet with inflammation-fighting foods that you should be eating instead. I realize that our culture and fast-paced lives makes this sound easier than it really is. I won’t lie; it will take small steps and discipline but it is about optimal health and healing of your body. 

Inflammation Causers

Inflammation Fighters

Red meat and processed meats

Fish and seafood, poultry

White potatoes and corn

Carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, squash, asparagus and other multi-colored vegetables

White rice

Brown rice

Corn flakes

Oatmeal

Corn oil

Olive or coconut oil

Soft drinks (especially colas)

White, green, oolong or black tea

Fruit juice

Whole fruit

Salt

Pepper, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, onion and other spices

Milk

Almond or coconut milk, kefir or Greek

Sugar (white and processed snacks)

Whole fruit, dark chocolate

Refined Grains (white bread, pasta, pastries)

Whole grain, gluten-free (only if you have an intolerance to gluten)

Artificial additives

Foods that have five or fewer ingredients


Here is an additional bonus to motivate you:  not only do these foods help fight inflammation in the body, they are also “fit” foods. These are foods that help satiate while burning fat at the same time… so while you are quenching the inward heat for optimal health, you are fueling the heat on the outside with a fit, new you! 

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