Written by: Rebecca Ramdeholl, C.H.N.C.
Inflammation results in a multitude of issues which affects one’s physical movements and well-being. Chronic inflammation is pretty much the most common condition that people experience in North America today, as cases ranging from Arthritis to Psoriasis are on the rise. These conditions are the ones that the pharmaceutical industry makes the most money from. Anti-inflammatory prescriptions abound, and is repeatedly written for the same patient over and over again. Without truly addressing the root causes of inflammation, the medical industry will never heal chronic conditions.
Why does Inflammation Suck so much?
Our body has the remarkable ability to heal itself, once our self-produced obstacles are removed. Inflammation, or the inflammatory response, is a nonspecific response that is triggered whenever body tissues are injured. Physical injuries, as well as injury from infection and viruses. To protect itself and initiate healing, the body produces the four cardinal signs of inflammation – redness, swelling, heat and pain. So when you hear of any condition that ends in ‘-itis’, know that it means inflammation, and that the four signs are present in those parts of the body, such as Arthr-itis (joints), Osteoarthr-itis (bones and joints), Laryng-itis (larynx), Col-itis (colon), and Prostat-itis (prostate gland). Inflammation means dis-ease of the body, and that you should start paying attention to what’s going on before it progresses. Unfortunately, as progression occurs, most people just get prescribed anti-inflammatories without asking why they have inflammation in the first place.
What Triggers Inflammation?
There are many causes of inflammation, especially when you’re a person living in modern day North America. One of the best and surest way to get inflammation is through an unwholesome diet. Our body will recognize unnatural foods, and will treat it as something to fight internally. Inflammation in the digestive tract is one of the causes of Leaky Gut syndrome and has been connected to rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Ankylosing Spondyllitis, Crohn’s Disease, Asthma, Eczema, Schizophrenia, migraine headaches and hayfever.
Meat is another trigger of inflammation. We can all stand to eat less meat in this day and age, to protect our health, protect our animals, and protect our planet. But the reality is that carnivores love meat. However, the quality and quantity of today’s meat is one of the best triggers for an inflammatory response. Conventional farming uses the CAFO system (Colossal Confined Animal Feed Operations), the cattle are fed, slaughtered and processed in a way that it introduces overuse of “preventive” antibiotics, the animals are confined to areas teeming with feces, feed that contains ground up cattle carcass (hence Mad Cow Disease) to cut costs – not as common anymore but still happens as consumers eat tainted meat – and use of pesticides in their feed. Then 30-40 cows are funneled to their slaughter together and die in stress (MASSIVELY INCREASED LEVELS OF CORTISOL). When animals die in stress, the stress hormone, Cortisol, stays embedded in the meat and hardens it. When the meat is butchered and packaged, it is then ‘enhanced’ to make it more appealing for the paying consumer. Meat is enhanced by an injection of solution containing water and other ingredients such as salt, fillers, flavorings, and antioxidants. The water causes the meat to weigh more, therefore, creates a higher profit. Phosphate is injected for better meat color, increased water retention and to reduce rancidity.
Now, you eat the meat.
That simple. I’m not suggesting you stop eating meat altogether. Some people are healthier on meat. We’re all different. But if you have an inflammatory condition, consider where your conventional meat is coming from and become aware of its role in your inflammation. Grass-fed beef, pasture-raised pork, chickens grown and fed in natural surroundings and with ease of time, fish caught wild, these should be something to consider. Eating a healthier animal will help reduce inflammation. Cows raised on grass in the sunshine and fresh air mean you consume tenderer meat filled with chlorophyll, Vitamin D and Omega 3s that come from healthier farming practices. The cow sent to slaughter, dying in a more ‘humane’ way, will have tender meat due to the reduced levels of cortisol present.
Other causes of inflammation are chronic low-grade food allergies or sensitivities, an imbalance in your gut flora, a diet consisting of lots of sugar, alcohol, and fast food, medication, hormonal imbalances, trauma and metabolic issues are all triggers.
Thanks for the Downer! Now what?
As we are all biochemically different, there is not a one-size fits all solution or recommendation for dealing with inflammation. Anti-inflammatory foods can assist in easing inflammation, but it’s all a matter of personal tolerance, taste and budget. We can all eat healthier and drink healthier. Here’s a short list of awesome anti-inflammatory foods that you can try. Start adding a few things, and start taking a few things out of your current way of eating, and monitor. If you find your inflammation is increasing, stop the new food and try something else. Our body loves variety!
Anti-Inflammatory Foods Inflammatory Foods
*spices: Cloves, Ginger, Rosemary, Turmeric * sugars
*leafy greens *trans fats
*omega 3s fat, animal-based and plant-based *dairy
*blueberries *conventional red meat
*matcha tea *processed meats
*fermented vegetables/traditionally cultured foods *refined grains
Now, some people do well on dairy and experience no inflammation - we're all different. But then something you thought was good for you, might actually be the cause of your discomfort. I decided to take out chicken and beef for two weeks, and wouldn't you know it? My psoriasis started easing up..... A LOT. Patches have disappeared and the skin was soft and smooth and a normal color. When I took in some beef again, I was still fine. But my body doesn't seem to like chicken - how do I know? The patches came back. I was eating farm-raised, grain-fed, organic beautiful happy chickens, so the argument that the chicken was maybe contaminated from improper farming practices doesn't apply here. I tried chicken broth, and I was fine with that. So really you have to try a few things before you can pinpoint what exactly you're reacting to. It takes time and patience, but it's well worth it.
I hope that this has been educational, and that you feel empowered to take your health into your hands, because we all have the ability to get our body to simmer down and feel a million times better!
Pawlick, Thomas F. (2006). The End of Food. Greystone Books.
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