I would like to share a brief personal experience about today’s topic. Few years ago, I was leading a life full of stress and devoid of physical activities; that, coupled with a poor diet, weakened my immune system and I found myself vulnerable to many illnesses. My tired body became slow to heal and recuperate from minor injuries. I started to suffer from swollen joints and I constantly felt minor pains. I remember expressing my concerns to my doctor. Without taking the time to explain what I was feeling and seeing in my body, and what could I do to reverse the situation, she immediately prescribed some meds.
I had to make a change, a fast one. I became better at recognizing and choosing the right foods. The journey gave me an awareness and I began to be mindful of what I put in and on my body.
In order to rebuild my immune system and help my body heal itself, I started eliminating refined sugars and grains, processed foods and all conventional meats. I increased my intake of fiber by eating more vegetables and fruits. I made ginger and turmeric teas. My body responded beautifully to the new diet and the painful joint inflammation and the little aches and pains that were my constant companions started to disappear.
Kate, a nutrition consultant, states that in our bodies, inflammation is a contributor to many chronic diseases, and the main cause of general body malaise. She is here to discuss this topic in depth, so please help us welcome her among us.
Foods To FighT Inflammation
By: Kate Hepburn
Most people these days are suffering from some sort of inflammation – general aches, pains and malaise that can’t be attributed to anything specific but is always there. Or perhaps, you suffer from more than that and struggle with chronic pain and inflammation.
While inflammation is part of our body’s natural defense system (our body’s way of protecting and healing itself) and is generally a good thing, when our defense system gets over-active, it can end up out of balance resulting in chronic inflammation.
Sadly, this inflammation not only makes us feel awful but is also a contributing factor to many chronic diseases.
The good news is there are several ways to naturally lower inflammation!
Here are a few to get you started…
CLEAN UP YOUT DIET
Choosing whole foods that are natural and as close to the way Allah made them as possible, avoiding refined food, and eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables can all help lower levels of inflammation.
In fact, for those who suffer with chronic inflammation, a vegetarian diet or mostly vegetarian diet can be highly beneficial for therapeutic purposes.
SHIFT TO A LOW ALLERGY DIET
While everyone is different, there are some ‘usual suspects’ that tend to cause inflammation for a variety of reasons.
By embracing a health promoting diet for 2-4 weeks (Elimination Diet), removing the most common allergens from your meals, you can significantly lower inflammation.
The most common allergens include: gluten foods (wheat, barley, rye, spelt etc), dairy (milk, yoghurt, cheese), & the nightshade family (tomato, potato, capsicum, eggplant), citrus and yeast.
DECREASE/ELIMINATE ANIMAL PRODUCTS AND LOWER VEGETABLE OIL CONSUMPTION
Most modern diets are exceptionally high in Omega 6 fatty acids which are inflammatory. This is largely due to the high levels of vegetable oil our diets.
These refined oils are not only eaten in excess but also, because of this excess, skew the healthy ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids which we need to maintain health.
‘Several sources of information suggest that human beings evolved on a diet with a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFA) of approximately 1 whereas in Western diets the ratio is 15/1-16.7/1. Western diets are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, and have excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids compared with the diet on which human beings evolved and their genetic patterns were established. Excessive amounts of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and a very high omega-6/omega-3 ratio, as is found in today’s Western diets, promote the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. 1
The aim of lowering consumption of animal products and vegetable oils is also to lower levels of arachidonic acid in the body thus lower inflammation.
USE NATURAL DIETARY ANTI-INFLAMMATORIES LIBERALLY IN FOOD
Use ginger and turmeric liberally in cooking. Both are potent anti-inflammatories.
There are several supplements that can help lower inflammation.
Curcumin: An Incredible Anti-inflammatory
Curcumin is the name for turmeric’s yellow pigment and it’s this compound that has shown significant anti-inflammatory properties in studies.
It’s been shown ‘to be as effective as cortisone or phenylbutazone in models of acute inflammation’2 as well as ‘over the counter anti-inflammatory agents like Ibuprofin’. 2
There can be some issues with absorption of curcumin so opting for a high potency, highly absorbable form of curcumin, such as Theracurmin which is 27x better absorbed than standard curcumin, is an excellent choice.
Other Anti-inflammatory Supplements
- Fish oil 2
- Flaxseed oil 2
- Pancreatic enzymes and protease enzymes 3
- Citrus Flavonoids
- Selenium and Vitamin E
Please note: Not everything is for everyone and therapeutic supplementation should always be done under the care of a health care professional.
Our bodies exist as part of a whole and so, food and nutrition, while extremely important, are not the only factors that contribute to inflammation.
Body stressors come in many forms —emotional, biochemical, environmental, toxic, allergic and when we have too many of these stressors occurring simultaneously, our body can react.
It’s important to look at our body as a whole, and to treat is holistically, paying as much attention to what’s going on emotionally, socially, mentally and spiritually a we do to what we eat.
In addition to food, we also need to keep in mind things such as:
- lowering stress levels
- getting enough sleep
- practicing self-care
- taking time out
- calming the mind and finding coping mechanisms.
- social connection
- spiritual connection
Kate is a nutrition consultant, blogger, entrepreneur but, above all else, a revert Muslimah with a love of all things simple and natural, trying to live a healthier life for the sake of Allah, with a dream of helping sisters around the world embrace better physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health, one simple step at a time.
1 Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12442909
2 Murray, M. (2005). The Encyclopaedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY: Atria Books.
3 Murray, M. (1996) The Encyclopaedia of Nutritional Supplements.New York. Three Rivers Press