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Nutrition is a critical determinant of immune responses and malnutrition is the most common cause of immunodeficiency worldwide. Your body requires both macronutrients and micronutrients to do its job of keeping you safe from invading pathogens. Deficiency in protein, and micronutrients zinc, selenium, iron, copper, vitamins A, C, D, E, and B-6, and folate, even mild deficiency, is associated with immune dysfunction and increased infection complications.
Over 125 clinical diseases have been linked to oxidative stress as a major cause or contributing factor to disease progression. Oxidative stress refers to chemical stress at a cellular level. When not correctly managed naturally by antioxidants in the body, these chemicals wreak havoc causing inflammation, physical stress, and in the end disease.
Autoimmune Disease affects over 50 million Americans. It is one of the top ten causes of death among women over 65, and is the second highest cause of chronic illness in the US. Autoimmune Disease is on the rise, not only in the US but worldwide.
There are over 100 different autoimmune diseases currently. Autoimmune diseases are chronic and are often life threatening. They can affect any system in the body, and symptoms can vary, making them difficult to diagnose.
The current medical system offers little in treatment other than medications. Often only prescribing them once damage has been not, and not offering options for prevention. Autoimmune disease has an underlying cause, a trigger, that cause the body to overreact and attack itself. The goal of TCM and Functional Medicine is to find and treat the underlying cause to reverse and prevent damage.
There has been a LOT of information presented in this series, and there is so much more that was left out. I wish we had more time to discuss many of the topics more in depth. I tried to pick those that were the important basics. A place to start the processes of illuminating inflammation in the body.
My goal in this series was not only to educate you on how food can change your inflammatory pathways (good and bad), but to also give you the information to encourage you to make the change. Lastly, my goal is to give you the tools you need to take charge of your own health. The knowledge into HOW to make these changes, and make them last.
Today, I want to bring it all together with some tips to help you implement and make this a lifestyle, not a diet.
I did not add food allergies into my original set of principles. Mostly because I believe that before you address this, you need to clean up your existing diet. These changes are meant to be lifelong, not a fad. In order to do so, and remain committed, it is important to take baby steps.
For many of you, the principles I have listed are things that you have already started to do. It is time, then, for you to take the next steps.
I have talked about fat soluble vitamins many times in previous posts. Please take a look at these, as there is information in them that I will not repeat here.
Kids Lunchbox - Importance of Fat Soluble Vitamins
Fat Soluble Vitamins and the Epidemic of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Today we will take this and build, looking deeper into their specific role in pain and inflammatory conditions.
It's time to move away from sugars, and into fats. It's amazing to me how different nutrition is from what I grew up learning and knowing. I was a child of the low-fat movement. I remember my parents buying low-fat and no-fat products. I remember classroom nutrition telling me how eating fats was going to cause heart disease, cancer, etc… OH how the tables have turned. This was a big hiccup in nutritional history, and we are beginning to learn the evil of these ways.
These diets were super high in refined flours, grains and sugars, but low in many nutritional fats. This was also the time when margarine and artificial sweeteners were considered healthier than their nutritionally dense counterparts. From these diets we have seen an incredible spike in degenerative diseases.
Now is the time of fats. The nutritional necessity of fats is only beginning to be understood.
I want to address the number of different natural sugar options out there. Many believe that if it is natural, it is good...but that is not the case. Many also believe that ALL sugar is the enemy...but that, also, is not the case.
As with fats, there are good an bad sweeteners, and there is a difference in quality within these sweeteners.
Here is the deal on adding in sweeteners. We use too much, as I have mentioned. These should not be eaten daily. "On occasion" occasion means 1-3 times per week, and in super small doses. Notice the granola I made had 1 TBSP for 5 cups of granola.
Part of the process of removing and reducing sugars in the diet, is having to change your palate for sweets. For many people who are consuming vast amounts of sugars at every meal, in high concentrations, your palate has weakened. Sweet isn't sweet anymore, you need high amounts of refined sugar to taste any presence of sugar. This needs to change.
When you can take a bite out of an apple, and say to yourself, "Wow, that's sweet." You are there.
I love sugar just as much as the next person. In the evenings I crave something sweet after dinner, most nights. I have an addiction to Brownies (when I was pregnant, I ate a batch a week, no lie, and I don't recommend this. It was a nutritional low point, I admit it). There are biological, nutritional, emotional and primitive reasons that we crave and need sugar. The problem with the modern diet and sugar is that we are often consuming our sugars in extremely high amounts and from nutritionally poor sources. We consume much more than we need for it's necessary biological roles in the body, we are not active, and this excess sugar becomes a health problem.
More and more research is linking sugar as the the primary cause of degenerative diseases in the body. It promotes excessive weight gain and inflammation. It hyper stimulates the brain, and is more addictive than many illegal drugs.
It is extremely important to find a balance with the normal needs of sugar for cellular energy. This all starts with choosing clean and natural sugar choices, and limiting the amount we consume based on our realistic energy consumption.
In today's post, we are going to dive deep into sugar, the good the bad and the super ugly. My goal is to help you achieve balance, and understand the how sugar affects our bodies. I want you to leave this post with the knowledge to look at your sugar consumption realistically.