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Inflamm-Aging: Is Your Body’s Natural Defense Mechanism Aging You?

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Inflamm-Aging: Is Your Body’s Natural Defense Mechanism Aging You?

6 Simple Anti-Inflammatory Diet Changes That Make A Difference
Dr. Christiane Northrup
Dr. Christiane Northrup More by this author
Oct 01, 2015 at 04:15 PM 4 comments

Inflammation is a buzzword we hear a lot about these days.  It’s one of those phenomena of nature that is both good – when your body needs to heal from infection or injury – and bad -- if it hangs around too long or is constantly present at a low level in your body. 

Today, it is widely accepted among doctors and scientists that inflammation is the root cause of a whole host of chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.  And, when your body is in a constant state of inflammation, it not only can cause you to get sick, but it also speeds up the aging process – a term known as inflamm-aging.

How Can You tell If You're Inflammaging?

We can usually tell if a part of our body is inflamed if it looks red or swollen, or if it feels hot and it is painful to touch, for example when you get a bee sting or sprain your ankle.  Similarly, if you have ever been diagnosed with any “itis” condition, such as arthritis, then you are inflamed.

Even if you don’t have overt symptoms or a diagnosis, you may have chronic low levels of inflammation that are causing you to age more rapidly and not feel your best.  It’s important to pay attention to your body’s warning signs of inflammation. 

Signs that you are inflamm-aging include:  

  1. Experiencing Regular Muscle and Joint Pain.  If you regularly feel stiffness, pain or discomfort in your muscles and joints or like you have the flu where your entire body is achy, this can mean you are experiencing inflammation due to chemicals called cytokines. 
  2. Feeling An Overriding Sense of Fatigue. Many things can contribute to fatigue such as lack of sleep, allergies, or working in a job that is not fulfilling.  However, if you feel flu-like fatigue that is not alleviated with proper rest and other healthy changes to your life it could be caused by inflammation. 
  3. Being Overweight.  Being overweight can be caused by many things, such as improper diet, lack of exercise, certain medications or a liver that is not functioning optimally. Whatever the reason, if you are overweight, you also have inflammation because fat cells produce inflammatory chemicals that are both the result of insulin resistance and the cause of it. The more excess fat in your body, the more inflammation.    
  4. Having Allergies or Autoimmune Disease. Allergies and autoimmune disease are probably the most common results of inflammation.  If you have environmental or food allergies you may feel itchy, or have red, swollen eyes or even digestive problems. Swollen joints, pain and fatigue are common with autoimmune disease.
  5. Having a low-grade, chronic Infection. Chronic low-grade infections such as Epstein-Barr virus, herpes viruses or other bacterial and viral infections, such as Lyme disease, over-stimulate your immune system by releasing toxins, which cause inflammation. 

6 Ways To Stop Inflamm-Aging Today

The Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) is the number one reason why so many people suffer from inflamm-aging.  By the time you reach mid-life, if you have been eating the S.A.D. way, your body is downright toxic!  In fact, this is so common that anti-inflammatory and anti-aging diets have become a huge industry.

The good news is you don’t have to spend tons of money subscribing to the latest fancy diet program.  If you want to reverse inflamm-aging, these simple steps can set you on your path:

1.    Eliminate Sugar.  

I have written a lot about the negative effects of sugar. Reducing or eliminating sugar in all forms – bread, cookies, alcohol, cakes, candy. Eating whole foods promotes healthy blood sugar and healthy digestion, and reduces inflammatory responses in your body. You also want to avoid artificial sweeteners, such as Aspartame (a neurotoxin!) and high fructose corn syrup.  I also recommend that you have your healthcare provider order a two-hour fasting glucose and insulin test. Your fasting glucose should be no higher than 70 mg/dl and fasting insulin no higher than 5.   (Note: Diabetes and high blood sugar are the LAST thing to show up after years of insulin levels that are too high!)

2.    Say “No” To Processed and Fast Food.  

It can be difficult to avoid processed and fast foods when you are on the go.  But, take time to read the ingredients on your favorite snack.  The number of chemicals and calories on any package may just cure you of your cravings for these foods.  One key to eating healthy, even when you are pressed for time, is to plan ahead. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store (not the isles). Check out the many websites offering recipes that can be cooked and served in minimal time with little prep work. If you must eat fast food, consecrate your food to your body and hold the intention to create health.  You can get back on track with your next meal.

3.    Eat the Rainbow.  

The best way to reduce inflammation is to eat a colorful diet filled with lots of whole fruits and vegetables of the highest quality you can find. Eat seasonally and locally if you can. Have healthy snacks on hand at home and at work.  Clear out your pantry of chips, crackers and other processed snack foods. You also want to avoid any foods you may have an underlying sensitivity to – these are foods that cause symptoms such as nasal congestion, digestive issues or joint pain, up to two days after you eat them.

4.    Add a Probiotic and Prebiotics.  

A poor gut microbiome is linked to inflammation. Increasing your healthy gut microbes can help your body with proper absorption of nutrients from your food and can help modulate your immune system and reduce inflammation. Buy a good probiotic and include fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and kimchi in your diet regularly.

5.    Avoid or Limit Alcohol.

Alcohol causes inflammation in several ways: It metabolizes as sugar.  It also taxes your liver causing it to work harder so it can’t do its job ridding your body of toxins. Finally, alcohol irritates your gut lining and, in excess, can cause leaky gut syndrome where food particles pass through your gut wall.

6.    Cut Out Gluten and Dairy.  

Even if you don’t have Celiac Disease or a dairy allergy, it’s best to cut these out if you suffer from inflammation.  Do this for 3 weeks and then you can add them in one at a time to see how you feel.  Most people who remove gluten and dairy feel much better.  Some people who feel better off gluten get even more benefits from removing all grains from their diets.

How have you stopped the inflamm-aging process? Leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you.

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