When you experience chronic inflammation, what is that outward manifestation saying about your inward situation? Find out from Dr. Weston!
Inflammation is the body’s defense system responding to some kind of irritation. Acute inflammation is usually a reaction to some infection or injury and is marked by the easily recognized red, hot, swollen, and painful spots around the injury. This is the outward manifestation of the body defending itself against a perceived threat and is part of the healing process.
Chronic inflammation is different; it is a constant, low-grade response to a long-standing, sub-clinical irritant. It amounts to the body basically turning on itself. It is not normally marked by those classic signs of acute inflammation, but the damage is slowly, insidiously being done. Chronic inflammation is difficult to recognize until enough harm is done to become clinically significant. It’s like corrosion or termite damage, but in the human body it contributes to serious problems like heart disease, cancer, arthritis, COPD, and dementia.
There are a number of recognized general causes of chronic inflammation: being overweight, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, chronic stress, smoking, chemical toxins, and even gum disease. Regarding chronic inflammation, diet can either be the culprit or the solution. As a culprit is the Standard American Diet – or the acronym SAD Diet, and it is just that; SAD! Sometimes it’s even called the Meat and Sweet Diet, or the Fast Food Diet. It is high in animal fats from meat and dairy, highly processed foods, and sugar, often cooked at high temperatures. It is lacking in fiber, complex carbohydrates and plant-based foods. The SAD Diet creates free-radicals that attack our body, and at least in part, accounts for the fact that in the U.S. 1 in 2 people die of heart disease, and 1 in 3 succumb to cancer, to say nothing of the fact that inflammation accelerates the aging process.
Cultures that eat the reverse of the SAD Diet have much less cancer and coronary heart disease. By eliminating meat, dairy, and processed foods from the diet and increasing the intake of fiber, raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds you can cut the heart attack risk by over 90%. Nutrients that are known to combat chronic inflammation include vitamin C, E, Selenium, and the brightly colored carotenoid plants. Three to four hours a week of physical exercise, and a restful night’s sleep also diminish stress and inflammation.
While science looks for drugs and surgery to treat the diseases caused by chronic inflammation, a huge part of the solution may be right on your plate. Celebrity vegan chef Joy Houston says, “Eat like your life depends on it, because it does!” And remember, whatever you put in your shopping cart is going to end up on your plate, so shop like your life depends on it too.