When we think about our health, we often focus on the symptoms we are experiencing which can seem widely varied and unconnected but quite often all stem from a common cause.
In functional medicine, we view health as a tree. The branches and leaves at the top are the various symptoms we experience, the roots are the lifestyle and environmental factors that feed the tree, and the trunk is our body’s systems and any triggering events which connect the two.
While there are many roots (environment, nutrition, stress, relationships, sleep and recovery, etc) they often all are grounded in a common soil – inflammation.
What is inflammation?
We need to understand that inflammation in and of itself is a needed and wanted immune response when it is under control and in direct response to a trauma or stress. Acute inflammation can present itself through these common, localized, symptoms:
If you stub your toe or cut your finger, the body launches its immune response using inflammation as a tool to carry the needed immune cells to the area to remove the invading pathogen or to help the damaged tissues heal themselves quickly.
The issue becomes when inflammation is triggered by external irritants or foreign bodies, such as chemicals, additives, or even the food we eat. Chronic inflammation does not show in the same was as acute inflammation rather it burns deep under the surface where it cannot be seen. This type of inflammation is not wanted and can cause more serious health issues including chronic illnesses.
Three nutritional tips to reduce chronic inflammation
Ditch pro-inflammatory foods.
The quickest way to Some of the biggest inflammatory foods we eat are added sugar and artificial sweeteners, refined carbohydrates, fried and highly processed foods, excessive alcohol and caffeine.
Fill your meals with anti-inflammatory foods.
Robust dark leafy greens (arugula, spinach and kale), healthy omega-3 rich fats (extra virgin olive oil, sardines, salmon, tuna, flax seeds), Vitamin-C rich foods (berries, colorful peppers, citrus fruit especially oranges), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts), green tea, Vitamin-A rich foods (red and orange vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots and butternut squash)
Spices such as rosemary, ground pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and saffron not only add rich color and complexity to your dishes, they pack a powerful anti-inflammatory punch.
By focusing on food as a method to help calm the root of systemic inflammation you are taking a large step in increasing your health one bite at a time.
functional nutritionist, transformation coach, and lighter of paths.