When most people think of injury or inflammation, they think of a sprained ankle or injured low back due to acute trauma.
However, inflammation is a far more serious health issue.
In fact, it can be said that inflammation is the root of all disease.
One may not even notice the immediate affects of chronic inflammation, but it can be there, particularly if you don’t eat properly or exercise constantly.
That’s because inflammation is actually the body’s natural response to stress—be it physical, dietary, environmental and/or even emotional. Once your body starts to become inflamed, it places you at risk for everything from weight gain, allergies, migraines, and susceptibilities to more serious illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, gout, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and even cancer.
Even the healthiest among us will have some type of inflammation—if you live in today’s fast and toxin-filled world, you have inflammation. The real question is what do you plan to do about it?
Where Does Inflammation Start?
The process of inflammation actually begins in your gut!
People tend to overlook their digestive system as a source of disease, but it makes sense when you consider that our guts are home to about 70 percent of our immune system and where 80 percent or more of our IgA cells (immune cells) live.
Where inflammation comes in is when the permeability of this organ starts to vary depending on different chemicals and conditions.
This, in turn, allows things like toxins, viruses, and bacteria, even undigested food, to enter your bloodstream through the larger holes in this lining. This condition, known as a leaky gut syndrome (LGS), is key to inflammation and where things can start going downhill—fast.
Constant damage to your intestinal lining from the leaky gut syndrome eventually will destroy the essential microvilli – tiny projections that exist in, on, and around the cells in your intestine and help with absorption and secretion.
When damaged the microvilli are unable to process and utilize the necessary nutrients and enzymes for digestion, which means your digestion eventually becomes disabled. When this happens, your body essentially sends out an alarm and starts an attack on the foreign bodies, such as the undigested food particles or viruses, yeast, etc.
And as part of this response, it becomes inflamed, causing allergic reactions and eventually other symptoms (diseases).
Common Inflammation Triggers
More and more, research is linking food to disease. We know that certain foods are clearly not healthy, while others have shown to promote healing.
But there are also some foods—mainly the majority of those that make up the standard American diet—that can be considered “inflammatory foods.”
Today, there are food additives in basically anything that isn’t organic. And now, we are starting to realize that even some foods that would otherwise seem “natural” can also be triggers.
These inflammatory triggers include such things as refined sugar, chemical additives, GMOs, artificial dyes and anything processed. All of these essentially trigger inflammation in your gut and can lead to devastating health issues.
The Biggest Cause Of Inflammation
Food and chemicals are not the only triggers.
Stress is also one of the biggest causes of inflammation.
Probably one of the reasons we don’t always link stress to disease is that it takes time for it to wreak havoc on our bodies. But anyone who has been under long-term stress will tell you that is can be deadly.
Eventually, your body starts to give out and break down. But now that you know this, you can limit the damage by recognizing the 14 most common signs of inflammation before they get out of hand.
14 Warning Signs Of Inflammation
1. Chronic fatigue
3. Food cravings
4. Binge eating
5. Unexplainable weight gain (not associated with eating more)
7. Water retention
8. Diarrhea or constipation
9. High blood pressure
10. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
11. Joint pain
How To Treat Inflammation Naturally
Diet is the most important stuff to look at when addressing inflammation. Before the invasion of drugs to treat everything imaginable, the food was considered medicine.
Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” These are words to live by, literally.
The only caution is that the food must be fresh, unprocessed and as natural as possible. The type of food you eat also determines the types of microbes that will grow and live in your gut.
Good microbes are necessary for proper digestion and absorption of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in your food. Processed foods are the main cause of inflammation, so you will need to start by eliminating all of these from your diet.
Refined sugar and wheat are also big contributors. And if you have food sensitivities, which is highly likely if you have inflammation, foods such as gluten, and cow’s milk can trigger further inflammation.
A diet based on fresh, mostly raw vegetables, salads, good sources of protein, such as eggs, seafood, organic or grass-fed meat and poultry, as well as healthy fats that include omega-3 fats, fresh fruit and plenty of nuts and seeds (again raw is better) and plenty of probiotics, is what is going to heal inflammation for good. As a good rule of thumb, try to avoid any food that comes pre-packaged.
There are also many foods that have been shown to be especially good for fighting inflammation. Choosing as many of these as possible will help to speed the healing process.
Proven Anti-Inflammatory Foods:
- Whole and cracked grains
- Beans and legumes
- Healthy fats (organic coconut oil, cold pressed olive oil
- Flaxseed and hempseed
- Fish and seafood
- Grass-fed lean meats, organic cheese and yogurt
- Spices (turmeric, ginger, curry, garlic, chili peppers, cinnamon, etc.)
- Probiotics and fermented foods (kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, yogurt)
Inflammatory Foods To Avoid Completely:
- Processed foods
- Certain dairy
- Processed meats
- Refined sugars
- Trans fats
Drink plenty of filtered water as water helps flush toxins out of your body and keeps you hydrated. Try to reduce, if not eliminate all stressors in your life as much as possible. Make sure to get regular exercise and try things like meditation, aromatherapy, massage, and soothing music to relax your mind and body. And above all else, get enough sleep!
The #1 Anti-inflammatory smoothie
- 1/2 cup frozen pineapple or mango
- 1 banana
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon maca root powder (optional)
Professional Scope of Practice *
The information herein on "12 Warning Signs Of Hidden Inflammation" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*
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