Now, I'm not trying to freak you out. But did you know that in 2014, nearly 60% of Americans had a chronic inflammation disease? 42% had more than one, and 12% had more than five. Worldwide, 3 out of 5 people die from a chronic inflammation disease - that makes it the leading cause of death in the world.
Now, this may seem startling, until you realize that "chronic inflammation diseases" include diseases like stroke, chronic respiratory diseases, neurological issues, autoimmune diseases, heart disorders, cancer, obesity, and diabetes.
The Leading Cause of Inflammation
If you don't have one of these diseases, you may still be suffering from acute inflammation. Some of the leading causes are:
Diet: The number one cause of inflammation is the Standard American Diet (SAD), which is high in inflammatory foods like Omega 3 fatty acids, and low in anti-inflammatory foods such as Omega 6's. It shouldn't be a shocker, but the high fat, highly processed, refined sugary, low veggie diet of our culture has created a lot of problems. Dairy, refined sugar, and high amounts of trans and saturated fat are all linked with an increase of inflammation.
Obesity: fat tissue is an endocrine organ, which releases adipokines and other inflammation mediators. Many studies show there is a link between increased BMI and an increase in pro-inflammatory cytokines. However, this could be an affect of the lifestyle that caused both obesity and increased inflammation, rather than obesity alone.
Smoking: smoking has been shown to slow the anti-inflammatory responses in the body.
Age: as you age, there is a higher risk of increased inflammation. This could be due to mitochondrial dysfunction, increased visceral fat, or increase in free-radicals over time.
Injury: not all inflammation is bad. When you get injured, inflammation is one of the first immune responses. This occurs to carry blood and other immune factors intent on removing the distress, which we want! Thus, the issue becomes when our body cannot properly regulate the inflammation.
If you don't suffer from a chronic illness, it may be difficult to determine whether you suffer from acute inflammation. Some symptoms include:
-Body pain (such as joint pain)
-Constant fatigue and insomnia
-Depression, anxiety and mood disorders
-Gastrointestinal complications like constipation, diarrhea, and acid reflux
-Longer recovery times after workouts
I'll give you a hint if you aren't sure: if you don't actively work to keep the balance, you probably are out of balance.
What can you do?
Never fear! Because the main cause is due to lifestyle, that means it is within your control to change and prevent it! The best starting point for a lifestyle change is to address your diet.
Cut out processed foods, quick carbs like soda, refined sugar, and corn syrup. Opting for lower glycemic carbs that are whole, unprocessed, and in their original form is always a better option, and not just for a waistlines! Trans fats such as processed seed and vegetable oils, baked goods (like soybean and corn oil) are all highly inflammatory.
Remove dairy. If you've noticed any of these symptoms, try removing dairy from your diet. Dairy is widely linked to many problems, but most notably inflammation and digestive issues!
Increase fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies are high in antioxidants and polyphenols which fight free radicals in the body, and also increase anti-inflammatory molecules in the body.
Increase fiber intake. Fiber comes from fruits and veggies, and works to decrease inflammatory molecules from the body.
Eat more Omega 6's, such as fish and chia seeds. Omega 6 fatty acids are responsible for the anti-inflammation in our bodies. Adding these in weekly will help your overall inflammation balance in the body. In addition:
Turmeric Curcumin is a widespread healer, and amazing at decreasing inflammation. It is widely used in supplements for joint pain. Take it with black pepper to increase the absorption.
Fish oil capsules are a great alternative if you're like me and don't love eating fish.
Mung Beans are widely used in herbal healing for their anti-inflammatory effects.
And finally, fasting has been shown to radically decrease inflammation in the body.
Inflammation is the basis for nearly all chronic illnesses.
That shouldn't create fear, it should actually bring peace of mind; because food is the main cure for inflammation, it means that it is within our ability to prevent and cure these diseases.
Take control of your health today: it all starts in the kitchen!