Today I am going to write a quick article about inflammation. I have counseled three people this week, who all suffer from completely different ailments, but have one common thread: inflammation. Come to think of it, nearly everyone I have ever counseled has a disease or illness that is rooted in inflammation. As a matter of fact, "itis" is just a suffix for inflammation. Meningitis, colitis, conjunctivitis, hepatitis, pancreatitis - the list goes on and on. It is easy to see what naturopaths mean when they say all illness starts with inflammation. If you understand inflammation and what causes it, it is the key factor in preventing and reversing disease.
So, what is inflammation?
Inflammation is simply the body's immune response. It's a good thing. When we fall and injure a part of our body lymphatic fluid, carrying white blood cells, swells up the area to offer protection to the vulnerable tissue, as well as to mend and heal the injury with lymphocytes and other white blood cells. The body heals within good time, depending on the severity of the injury, and the lymphatic system (assuming it's running properly) acts as a highway to rid the body of the toxins, dead cells, and tissue at the inflamed site. That is an example of a healthy inflammatory/immune response. When inflammation continues, however, this is called chronic inflammation. This is the beginning of disease. The good news is that it can be quickly and easily reversed.
I believe chronic inflammation has two distinct causes: stress and poor diet. Poor environmental conditions, hormonal changes, alcohol consumption, and contact with chemicals are also, without a doubt, causes of inflammation. However, a clean diet will help the body balance hormones, detoxify pollution, and protect the body from chemical exposure. This is why my remedy for inflammation, like all things, is diet.
Food affects our inflammatory response in two major ways: digestibility and its ability to alkalize or acidify our system. If a food is difficult to digest, this includes food allergies, the digestive system is overtaxed and becomes exhausted. The villi in the intestine begin to die and leave holes. These holes allow food to enter our blood undigested. Once food enters the blood without being digested it is seen as a foreign invader and the body signals an attack, in which the immune system responds and creates, can you guess? Inflammation! Overeating, regardless of how healthy the food is, will also create inflammation by causing putrefaction, acidity, and constipation. More on that here.
The second way is whether or not the food alkalizes or acidifies our blood. Whenever we eat acidic foods, our body's have to make up for the pH imbalance. The bones lend minerals, namely calcium, phosphorus, and sodium, to buffer the blood's acidity caused by the food. This is a direct injury to the skeletal system, which will create inflammation in the joints. If you can imagine a microscopic drill pulling rocks out of your bones you can understand why an acidic diet is very harmful to bone health and makes it impossible to prevent or reverse inflammation. There are many charts online that give a list of acid/alkaline foods. Each chart differs from another, but this one is my favorite.
Anti-inflammatory drugs are usually just immune suppressant drugs, which I find extremely dangerous. If you suffer from lupus, arthritis, or have any chronic inflammatory issue choose diet over drugs to treat the pain. My mother was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus almost twenty years ago. She follows a plant-based diet, drinks plenty of herbal teas, practices yoga, and generally has a positive attitude. She has virtually no signs of lupus or arthritis. As an added bonus her diet even reversed nodules that were developing on her thyroid - without the addition of chemo or any other drug the doctors were insisting she takes.
It frustrates me to no end when I see kind people at the mercy of their doctor and their doctor's pills. When our doctors look at us and so officially say that we have "menonucleosushepaacidosisfemuritis", it sounds daunting and leaves us feeling hopeless. All these lofty titles mean is that a certain part of our body is inflamed. It doesn't mean we have disease. The actual disease we are dealing with is intellectual. It's the assumption that prescriptions will fix our bodies. The problem here is that nothing is wrong with our bodies. Our bodies are perfectly healthy when they respond to trauma with inflammation! Remove the trauma (diet) and remove the inflammation. Aren't a handful of almonds or steamed broccoli much more appetizing than a handful of plastic pills?
If you eat a diet rich in vegetables, grains, legumes, fruits, nuts, and seeds you should have very little to no issues with inflammation - regardless of age. The body may slow down as we age, but it certainly does not have to break down. If you have chronic inflammation, or want to prevent it, you can contact me or any holistic practitioner to discuss a proper diet and regimen to add minerals back to your body and get rid of inflammation.
As I noted earlier, stress causes inflammation - sometimes even when the diet is flawless. If you're working at a stressful job, living in a stressful environment, or dealing with a stressful relationship there are two choices: accept your position and make the best of it or, my personal favorite, START OVER! Nothing can be a better boost to one's health than a complete makeover in life. Surround yourself with good people who will support your growth and take off! Incorporating happiness into a whole food, plant-based is the best, and only, prescription any of us need.