What is Inflammation and the Basic Dietary Principles to Start Reducing Inflammation + Day 1 Menu Plan
Inflammation is the root of many different diseases, including; auto-immune disease, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, migraines, heart disease, asthma, arthritis, IBS, etc… Because of this, the principles and guidelines in this blog series are basic and fundamental. I will do my best to talk about the individual conditions as they arise, but this is a generalized diet. In upcoming blog series, we will take a deeper look into some of these individual conditions, and how even more detailed nutrition can help in these specific cases.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is the hallmark of the body's ability to heal. We've all seen this superficially on the skin, as a reddening reaction at the site of an injury that is often followed by heat, swelling, and pain. This inflammatory response is the immune systems reaction to injury, infection, or environmental toxins. These different actions cause the localized tissue to produce hormones (braykinin and histamines) to signal the immune system, and dilate the blood vessels to increase blood flow to the area. Several different defensive cells are produced, and the dilation of the blood vessels helps to speed their arrival to the area. Inflammation is a very important part of our health and natural ability to heal.
There are two different types of inflammation Acute and Chronic.
Acute inflammation is the body's immediate reaction to an injury, infection, or foreign body. This is what you see when you scrape your knee, sprain your ankle, have bronchitis, or a sore throat. The body does it's job during the inflammatory state, and then retreats after a couple of days, reducing the inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is long term. Chronic inflammation is a signal that there is an ongoing problem, or a problem that was not treated correctly. Chronic inflammation is progressive, and stimulates different defensive immune cells to react. Often there is not heat and swelling, but pain and other internal damage, with bouts of acute inflammatory symptoms. This is seen in rheumatic arthritis, spinal disc injuries, auto-immune disease, IBS, allergies, asthma, artery disease, migraines, etc…
LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR INFLAMMATORY RESPONSES
What Makes Inflammation Bad?
Chronic Inflammation is problematic. There are several reasons why our body's natural ability to heal turns against us and becomes a disease trigger. Poor diet, stress, environmental toxics, chronic injuries, etc…
POOR DIET: Foods that are high in sugars, and inflammatory fats can increase the amount of inflammation in the body. Also, if diets are deficient in nutrients that heal the body such as healthy anti-inflammatory fats, enzymes, probiotics, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, the body cannot heal and thus the inflammation continues.
STRESS: There is a delicate balance between the hormones of the body, stress and inflammation. In the normal cycles, hormones from the adrenals work to reduce and regulate the inflammatory responses of the body. Stress weakens the adrenals, and reduces their ability to regulate inflammation. Often causing the body to have either an increased sensitivity to stimuli or not be able to shut off once stimulated.
ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS: In our world we are constantly bombarded with destructive chemicals. Many different fertilizers and pesticides used in our foods have been found to be toxic and cause inflammatory reactions in the body. Our body care products are often full of preservative known to disrupts our hormones and immune responses. Our tap water is often contaminated with synthetic hormones, and toxic minerals. The cleaners we use in our homes are another source of immune and hormone disruption, as well as being toxic.
PHYSICAL INJURY: Many physical injuries can lead to chronic inflammation as the body is constantly trying to heal the area. Spinal disc injuries are a common cause of chronic inflammation and pain. Sometimes there is a physical tear to the disc, other times it has become displaced. In each of these cases there is continued pressure on the muscles, nerves, and facial surrounding the injury that are constantly signaling the immune system's healing responses. Over time, as the body tries to heal the area, the body because stuck in a chronic pain-inflammaiton cycle. Sometimes to properly heal the area, we need to reset/reboot our inflammatory processes. Give the immune system a break. There are some cases in which these can be healed with proper diet, exercise, and regulation of the immune responses. In some cases it becomes a lifelong yo-yo, where proper diet is crucial to maintaining a balance and reducing excessive inflammation flareups.
Once you get into a state of chronic inflammation, you become stuck in a vicious cycle. The immune system, and increased inflammation are now causing damage, and thus increasing the stimulation of hormones which in turn increase the production of defensive cells, which cause damage, which increases the stimulation of hormones which…..you get the idea.
Basic Dietary Principles to Reduce Inflammation
Diet can either heal us or hurt us. All health begins with the food we consume. No matter how much you exercise, or how much medication you take to "heal" your conditions. If you are not creating a strong foundation with the food you consume, then nothing will work. If you truly want to heal your body, you must begin and end with diet.
Like I mentioned above, this is a starting point to healing. Depending on the type of Chronic Inflammation you have, you principles may vary, or become much more strict. You may have to take it farther, and we will discuss that as we go through this series.
Because this is a LIFE CHANGE, I would be remiss if I did not talk about two life factors that those with inflammation must address
The Next Steps:
As I mentioned, the above is the starting point. Many of you may already be incorporating the above principles, and that is great! But for many, the above is where you need to be. You are changing not only what you eat, but how you view food. This is how you create a plan that works, not a short term diet. This is a lifestyle choice and a lifestyle change. This is the beginning. The next steps will take you deeper into your healing process. Digging deeper may need to involve professional help for testing and coaching.
KNOW YOUR TRIGGERS
What are triggers? These can be anything, foods, environmental chemicals, allergens, etc... In any case of chronic inflammation, you must rule out anything that is either causing the inflammation, or is perpetuating the inflammation.
Are you ready to make the changes to reduce your inflammation?
If the answer is, "Yes!" I hope that I can help you begin this new life. Remember, you didn't get here overnight, so don't expect things to change overnight. There will be times that are hard, and you may feel like giving up. DON'T. If anyone every needs extra guidance or coaching, please let me know.
Over the course of the next couple of days, we will dive deeper into the above principles. My goal, as always, is to give you the tools to take charge of your own health.
This is a NEW LIFE, not a diet. There will be falls. But remember...
Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.
- Oliver Goldsmith
Breakfast #1: Scottish Oats
Oats are one of the grains that needs to be soaked overnight before cooking. Either sprouting or slightly fermenting to breakdown the phytic acid in the grain (you can buy already sprouted oats, or soak them overnight). Phytic acid is a compound found in grains that binds to minerals. Phytic Acid cannot be broken down in the body, because we lack the enzymes to do so. There are pros and cons to phytic acid. High amounts can lead to mineral deficiencies, because these minerals are bound to the phytic acid and then eliminated. Phytic acid, in excess, can inhibit the absorption of proteins and fats as well. Because phytic acid is not broken down in the digestive system, high amounts can increase inflammation of the intestinal wall. On the positive side, phytic acid also binds to harmful chemicals in the body, like environmental toxins. In smaller amounts, phytic acid works as an antioxidant, reducing inflammation. The sprouting and fermenting process does not breakdown ALL of the phytic acid, but creates a balance of whole and broken phytic acid. It unlocks more of the nutrition in the grains, and retains enough phytic acid for the benefits.
Scottish Oats, are oats that have been milled into a finer (polenta like) meal. I like it's creamy, "cream of wheat" feeling. Oats are often hard on my system, and this form is much easier for me to digest.
I topped my Scottish Oats with a dollop of Grass-Fed Butter (look at how orange and nutrient dense that is), full-fat, cultured plain yogurt, raspberries, hemp seeds and salt. I like mine salty and buttery!!!
Lunch #1: Asian Chicken Salad
Look at all that COLOR! Not only is it tasty, but it's pretty. Doesn't that just make you happy! All that color means lots of nutrients and antioxidants.
In a bowl, mix all vegetables together.
In a container, mix all marinade ingredients. Add chicken and let marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes. Heat grilled to medium heat. Place chicken on hot grill, and cook one side for 5 minutes, or until browning and grill marks present. Flip, coat in marinade and cook until cooked through. Remove and let rest 5-10 minutes before slicing.
For Sesame Ginger Dressing
In a mason jar, add all ingredients and shake vigorously to mix.
To Assemble Salad
In a large bowl, add vegetables and drizzle enough dressing to coat salad, but not make it soggy. Makes 4 meal sized servings. Top each servings with 4 oz. of Grilled, sliced chicken breast.
Dinner #1: Chicken Avocado Soup
I absolutely love brothy soups. Broth is a superfood. There are so many nutrients found in good stock. Bone broth is all the rage right now, which is good for supplying proteins, minerals, collagen, fat, B Vitamins and Vitamin C, all in very easy to absorb forms. I actually prefer, bone and meat stock. So, taking a leftover chicken carcass with some skin, or bone with significant meat and cartilage on in (I've used venison joints). This creates a nutrient dense superfood broth, especially if you are cooking it with some rich herbs like parsley, cilantro, oregano, rosemary, or sage. This carcass broth is full of all of the above, but also things like gelatin, glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and Hyaluronic Acid. All nutrients that are great for joints, tissue, and intestinal inflammation. It is a super easily absorbed source of hydration and electrolytes. There is actually some controversy around bone broth, there's always a controversy, right. Broth has Glutamic Acid. The longer it is cooked, the more it has. Meat broth (carcass broth) has less. Glutamic Acid is an excitability neurotransmitter in the brain. Some have correlated bone broth and Glutamic Acid with an increase in seizures. There are actually quite a few studies and diets designed to treat seizures that rely heavily on high fats and broths....the Ketogenic Diet. If you are suffering from seizures or seizure like migraines, I think Meat broth is fine. Glutamic Acid is found in most all foods, and is higher in some plants than you would get in a broth.
I take a chicken carcass and put it in a crockpot. Add plenty of water to significantly cover the carcass. Add your desired herbs, a handful of salt, and 1/4 cup of vinegar. The vinegar helps to extract nutrients from the bones. Cook on low overnight, 12-24 hours. Use broth in soup, store, or drink.
In a large stock pot over medium heat, add Avocado Oil, Onions, and Garlic. Saute until fragrant, add chicken, season generously with salt and pepper, add cumin and cover. Stir frequently and cook until thoroughly cooked. Once chicken is thoroughly cooked, and a good amount of juice has formed, pour in Chicken Broth, and add in Green Chilies. Bring to a simmer. Add the Kale, and cook until wilted. Add in the Tomatoes, Avocados, and Lime Juice. Heat and serve, top with fresh Cilantro. Top with your favorite salsa, or quality, cultured sour cream.