Most all of us could likely say that we could reach a greater level of health. Whether the issue is headaches, being overweight or obese, arthritis, or any number of health problems, a huge underlying contributing factor to your problem may very well be with one thing: inflammation.
In doing our best to be healthy and fit, many of us still don’t experience the desired results. Many are still overweight, have arthritis, or other such problems. What many fail to realize or understand is that most of the health problems that cause people to seek help are stemmed from inflammation caused by a dietary imbalance. When the body is in a cycle of pro-inflammation, it cannot eliminate fat cells or convert them into muscle cells. Therefore, inflammation stands as a block between you and the healthy body you want.
When our bodies are healthy and in good balance, a small amount of inflammation is a useful and normal thing. For example, if you have a small cut or scrape, or you sprain your ankle, the body responds with a number of inflammatory reactions that increase blood flow and swelling to the injured area. This inflammatory process helps to clear away damaged cells and helps in the repair process of the tissues. The process is efficient and relatively quick.
However, when we get into a state of dietary imbalance, the inflammation process takes a significantly longer amount of time. And when inflammation is prolonged, normal metabolic functioning and cellular growth is negatively impacted. Prolonged inflammation that results from an imbalanced diet can either cause or worsen many diseases such as being overweight or obesity, diabetes, cancer, allergies and asthma, anxiety, headaches, learning disorders, neuropathy, fatty liver, heartburn, arthritis and tendonitis, low HDL and high triglycerides, hypertension, polycystic ovaries, and chronic fatigue.
So, in order to prevent prolonged and damaging inflammation, it’s important to focus on a proper diet. Here are some of the top ways to start improving your diet to help you balance your body and reduce or avoid negative inflammation.
Buy Natural: The term “natural” on a packaged food product is a meaningless term, as natural is not a regulated term, so anyone can slap the word “natural” on their product. Don’t assume that something is healthy just because it says this word on it. It is, however, important to buy truly natural foods. The best way to do this is to avoid processed foods. The best way to determine if a food is processed is if it contains one of these three ingredients: vegetable oil, sugar, or MSG. Natural foods can be easily found in nature and have not undergone heavy processing, nor do they have synthetic ingredients added to them.
Avoid Vegetable Oils: This isn’t always as easy as it seems, but is one of the most important steps to reducing inflammation. Vegetable oils are processed in similar steps to hydrogenated oils, and the toxic chemicals found in vegetable oils damage our cells, disrupt basic metabolic functioning, and have been linked to some serious health problems such as genetic damage, birth defects, growth problems, cancer, heart attacks, and strokes. During factory refining, all vegetable oils are superheated (even the “expeller pressed” varieties). Vegetable oils have polyunsaturated fats that are easily damaged by heat. Therefore, because vegetable oils are superheated, they will all contain some amount of trans fat. Vegetable oils include canola oil, corn oil, soy oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, grapeseed oil, and rice bran oil.
Buy Healthy Oils: Healthy oils are great antioxidants, and unlike vegetable oils, are more like a food. The healthy oils include olive, peanut, coconut, coco butter, avocado, macadamia nut, sesame, walnut, flax seed, and wheat germ oil. It is best to use the less stable avocado, macadamia, walnut, flax, and wheat germ oils raw or in low temperature settings.
Avoid Sugar: Especially the highly processed sugars, like the common white table sugar. Not only do processed sugars not provide any beneficial nutrients to the body, they are very inflammatory foods. Avoiding added sugars and high sugar foods is a key part of treating prolonged inflammation.
Don’t Buy Artificial Sweeteners: Fake, man-made, highly processed artificial sweeteners such as Splenda, Nutrasweet, and saccharine are essentially sweet tasting drugs. While they do offer sweetness without many calories, they’re not without their side effects—anything from blurry vision and headaches to intestinal problems and cancer have been linked with artificial sweeteners. These artificial sweeteners tend to be acid treated or undergo other harsh processing techniques, and when they are ingested, they feed the inflammation.
Buy More Vegetables and Fewer Fruits: While fruits offer health benefits, they are still high in sugar, which feeds inflammation. Some medical professionals even suggest viewing fruit as a treat, vegetables as a health food. Fruit raises blood sugar levels significantly more than vegetables do. Calorie for calorie, vegetables offer less sugar and more nutrition to help treat or avoid negative inflammation. Ideally, your vegetable to fruit purchase ratio should be five to one.
Avoid Fruit Juices: Packaged and processed fruit juices tend to be pasteurized, and the heavy processing damages the nutrients that provide health benefits. Therefore, when drinking most fruit juices, you’re actually primarily drinking pure sugar that is quickly absorbed into the blood and feeds that inflammation.
Buy Foods That Vary In Shape, Color, and Size: Different foods provide various key nutrients and phytochemicals that help to fight inflammation and disease. Consistently eating the same exact foods day in and day out can cause a dietary imbalance that can promote (or at least not help reduce) inflammation. A great goal is to “eat the rainbow” daily in a variety of fresh, whole foods. This will ensure that a variety of needed nutrients are being obtained.
Buy Fresh, Not Frozen or Canned: As much as possible, choose fresh produce. Fresh foods contain higher amounts of nutrients and enzymes to help support optimal health and combat inflammation. Canning foods damages most of the nutrients, including inflammation fighting vitamin C and other key antioxidant nutrients.
While this list is not all encompassing, making some simple but lasting changes to your food choices can have a significant impact on your health by reducing the inflammation happening in our bodies. The main way to start reducing inflammation is to reduce sugar and vegetable oils and increase your healthy fat and nutrient consumption.
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Claims on this site have not been evaluated by the FDA. Information on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We encourage you to do your own research.. Seek the advice of a medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle or diet.
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