About 7 minutes of reading time.
Inflammation is basically the body’s response to cellular injury and is often accompanied by redness, swelling, heat, pain, soreness, etc. It is a necessary process for the body to heal; however, chronic (long-term) inflammation is what wreaks havoc on the body.
In the past, anytime I had anything inflamed or something that hurt, I would do what most everyone does, take an ibuprofen-or four. Well, that isn’t really the healthiest of things to do to fight inflammation because it can really screw up your kidneys and, if taken frequently, can lead to long-term kidney failure!
Inflammation is the root cause of many diseases!
Chronic inflammation is linked to many diseases and can be thought of as the root cause or symptom for most diseases and ailments such as some arthritis, Alzheimer’s, asthma, cancer, COPD & chronic bronchitis, depression, obesity & type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and more!
My thinking tells me that since most health ailments are a result of or associated with chronic inflammation, we should manage it. The best way to do that is BY REMOVING THE SOURCE OF THE INFLAMMATION! All a medication will do is temporarily reduce it and/or mask the effects (like a bandage to stop bleeding), but as long as its source is still there, you have to keep applying the medicine. All medicines sooner or later have side effects, and over time the side effects can get worse, and eventually, the side effects of the treatment can become worse than the original problem.
We as a society consume a LOT of inflammation!
From everything I’ve read, watched, and understand, what we consume by eating and drinking can perhaps be the number one source for most of the inflammation in our bodies. Many other factors cause inflammation, but I firmly believe food and drink are major culprits from everything I see around me now! IF you suffer from effects of chronic inflammation, the best thing to do is quit feeding it.
Simple carbohydrates such as added sugars and refined grains (white rice, white bread, white pasta, table sugar, etc.) are some of the worst things we can put into our bodies! They are empty calories, basically having minimal nutritional value/benefit. They’ll also cause a blood-sugar spike and eventually lead to insulin resistance, type-2 diabetes, and obesity. (link, link) IF these carbohydrates are not burned off, then another direct result is high triglycerides! I still firmly believe THAT was the major cause of my heart attack. These links suggest I’m on the right track (link, link, link), but that is another topic, and I’ll write about that one day.
Omega-6 vs Omega-3
Another major possible thought of chronic inflammation is consuming high amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 IS beneficial and necessary to the body, but like everything else, definitely not in excess. Omega-6 is PRO-inflammatory (link), and Omega-3 is ANTI-inflammatory (link).
The typical Western diet has an abundance of Omega-6 and very little Omega-3. Why? I believe it is cost and convenience. For example, it is cheaper to feed cattle, chicken, and fish grain, and it fattens them up (pretty much like how refined grains do to humans, as stated earlier). Because they aren’t foraging in the fields freely like they should and eating what they are supposed to be eating, their Omega-3 content is virtually non-existent compared to their pastured counterparts. That’s why I get Pasture Raised Chicken, Grass-Fed Beef, and Wild-Caught Sockeye Salmon.
Modern Day Omega-3:Omega-6 Consumption.
Since many people eat (big portions) of meat in their 1-3 meals a day and most of it is grain-fed, they’re ingesting a lot more Omega-6 than Omega-3. Another example is oils. There are oils in almost everything you buy, and most of those oils are super high in Omega-6. Like nut butter and nut milk? Most of those are super high concentrations of Omega-6 as well.
It is believed that before the modernization of today’s food supply, that the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 was 1:1 – 4:1. Today it is thought to be about 16:1 – 20:1 or even higher. It’s also thought that a higher Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio also increases the risk for obesity. (link, link)
Here is a great article more about Omega-6 to Omega-3: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/optimize-omega-6-omega-3-ratio
Now for the contradictory information to a lot of that, however, there is a big takeaway. This article (with studies) suggests that dietary Omega-6 is not as detrimental as that all sounded above. The takeaway is that DHA & EPA forms of Omega-3 are crucial and often lacking.
So what can we do about the Omegas?
More Omega-3 reduces inflammation.
Consume more Omega-3 to balance out the high amount of Omega-6 that we consume, preferably most of it from animal sources since they have the DHA & EPA form of Omega-3. Most plants are ALA form. Our bodies NEED the DHA & EPA and very poorly converts it to that from ALA. The best vegetarian source of DHA & EPA is from algae. DPA is “new” on the scene and is very interesting! I supplement with this algae-based Omega-3 capsule! The quality is far superior to fish oil capsules and doesn’t give “fish burps.” It also makes logical sense that it is better because it is what the fish get. Who knows the source of the fish from fish oil. Use your imagination. Oh, no, this algae isn’t the kind that grows on the side of your aquarium or swimming pool! 😆 Don’t go overboard with supplementing, as too much can have negative side effects.
There are many studies on Omega-3, but this study with DHA & EPA about breast cancer is fascinating. This is the conclusion of the study: “The inflammation-resolving properties and favorable effects of EPA and DHA on oncogenic proteins, as well as on the cardiovascular, bone, and central nervous system, make them excellent candidates for primary and secondary breast cancer prevention trials for individuals at increased risk as well as breast cancer survivors. Interventional trials in these cohorts are ongoing.”
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LESS Omega-6 reduces inflammation.
Consume LESS Omega-6 such as nut milk, nut butter, grain-fed meats, and oils. Notice I said “consume LESS” and not to eliminate them. We need Omega-6, just not in such significant amounts that we typically receive throughout a day, especially in highly concentrated forms such as peanut/almond butter. For example, two tablespoons of peanuts contain fewer peanuts than two tablespoons of peanut butter, so that’s less Omega-6. Now two HEAPING tablespoons of peanut butter is more like three tablespoons! 😉
Don’t go nuts over nut milks or nut butters.
Eating a serving of nuts a day is healthy, and there are good nutrients in them! I found this page where the author got the amount of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fat content of nuts and calculated a ratio of them. I didn’t like how the results were a decimal, so I used this calculator to make them an X:1 ratio. Lower is better so this list is sorted from best to worst!
So you can see how the heavily consumed almond and peanut products could contribute to a much higher Omega-6 intake. Although there are good nutrients in those, too much of these could be a bad thing.
One thing that is very interesting is the much higher content of Omega-3 in the walnut compared to all the other nuts!
Stop consuming so much refined grains and added sugar.
Seriously, that crap is slowly killing you from the inside out. The problem is that sugar is highly addictive.
- Examples of refined grains are white rice, anything made with white or “enriched” flours like most pasta, bread, cereals, cookies, doughnuts, crackers, etc.
- Examples of added sugars are (when listed as an ingredient): sugar, table sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, raw sugar, high fructose corn syrup, most syrups (especially ones that don’t contain any fiber), -ose ingredients– sucrose, dextrose, fructose, maltose, glucose.
- Be wary of most sugar alcohols as many can cause digestive discomfort and could cause other issues. Erythritol is a bit different from the others because it doesn’t get processed the same as it goes through the bloodstream and excretes unchanged in the urine. (study) Here is a good read on sugar alcohols.
- The absolute best sugar replacement that I’ve learned about and use is 100% Monkfruit Extract .
- DO NOT drink fruit juice! EAT THE FRUIT! Juice lacks fiber to slow down the digestion of the sugar, and is basically like drinking a soda with some vitamins.
An anti-inflammatory chemical process occurs in the bloodstream when your muscles are in motion. (Article)
If you smoke, QUIT!
Smoking lowers the production of anti-inflammatory molecules and increases inflammation. (Article)
Here is an article I wrote about how I broke my nicotine addiction. I haven’t smoked since my heart attack on 12.29.2018 and I have been nicotine-free since 2.22.2019!
Sleeping a good 7-8 hours a night allows the body to repair itself and refresh your mind. Even taking a nap during the day can be beneficial.
Stress is good, but again like with most things, too much is not healthy. A 15-minute light yoga session is good for this and practice deep breathing exercises. I like to do 4 seconds in, hold 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds, hold 4 seconds, and repeat for about 5 minutes. Don’t do this driving! If you are having a hard time falling asleep, do this until you do. 😉
To me, this is a miracle “elixir” for inflammation! I think it works so much better than ibuprofen ever did. Check out this super simple Golden Milk recipe.
Keeping things balanced.
Many things can cause inflammation, but we as a population devour and gulp inflammation every day in quantities that are detrimental to our health. I once did, and I now see it every day, in-person and online. Changing anything with one’s lifestyle can be so stressful! I know this all too well as I changed so much at once. I found enjoyment out of some of them, and then I began building on those enjoyable moments, making them more manageable. I’m not saying that changing everything you eat will make all your pains go away. I know from experience that eliminating sources of a condition, those conditions CAN dwindle to nothing. Even if you hurt half as bad, wouldn’t that be worth it?
Think logically and act sensibly.
If I put my hand on a hot stove eye, I would need to take my hand off the stove eye to stop the burning. Burn cream is useless unless I take my hand off the stove eye. Yes, I accidentally did that once, and that is how I related smoking and my heart attack in my mind.
IF you have cardiovascular disease, an auto-immune disease, or suffer from inflammation of any kind, I strongly encourage you to examine EVERYTHING (and how much) you put into your mouth! Start by searching “does _____ cause inflammation?” The results may be astonishing! Look for search results that are actual studies and/or articles with reputation and articles that reference facts and not opinions. Also, remember that correlation doesn’t always equal causation. That item you are eating or drinking may not cause your actual condition, but the inflammation it causes can undoubtedly make your symptom worse!
Here are some good reads for more information about inflammation:
Products mentioned in this article: