There are times in our lives that lead us to becoming experts in areas we never intended to explore. In my life that area has been health. Growing up I was always fascinated by the mind and body connection. I read every book I could get my hands on that touched the topic of the connection between the mind and body. However, I did not read anything that included nutrition and your body, at least not until I needed to learn more about that connection.
Approximately ten years ago I had severely injured my knee while practicing martial arts. At that time I required surgery immediately, and then like normal I healed and began living life again. A few years ago my knees were in constant pain. It did not matter if I put my legs up, if I rested, if I iced them. No matter what I did the pain continued to get worse. I also noticed I was much more lethargic. I mentioned this while chatting with a friend who is a chiropractor and a believer in nutrition to the extent that he makes his clients fork with a nutritionist while he is treating them. Thankfully, he had me look at what I was eating and led me on a path to learning a lot about what I choose to eat.
I am not a nutritionist, nor am I a medical doctor. I am someone who applied what I learned in my own life and saw such incredible changes in my body I thought it may help to share.
My pain was being caused by inflammation. Inflammation is our body’s way of responding to an injury or an attack by germs in our body. It is helpful to know that inflammation is truly one way you body is defending and protecting you. However, constant chronic inflammation can lead to some real long term problems such as; arthritis, fibromyalgia, decreased energy, an overall weakened immune system that potentially leaves you open to more health problems.The good news is, there are so many things we can do to help decree inflammation pretty easily.
As you may have guessed, there are some dietary changes you can make that may help you decrease your inflammation. I like to start with a few things we can add to our life that will help us change our bodies first, then I will share some items you may benefit from eliminating.
SPICE IT UP: Spices such as ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and cayenne all help decrease inflammation. If you do not add these to your food or your drinks, try adding some and see what changes for you.
WATER: We hear this everyday, we should drink half our body weight in ounces a day. So if you weigh 140 pounds you should be drinking at least 70 ounces of water daily. Water helps flush out toxins that can cause inflammation. Many doctors recommend drinking at least 10 ounces of water approximately 30 minutes before you eat to help you with weight loss, and not to drink it with your meal.
MOVEMENT: When the doctor told m to move my body, I will be honest, I wanted to choke him. I was at the doctor because I was in so much pain, I could not move my body. However even short walks throughout the day can help reduce the inflammation. If you move your body every day for at least 30 minutes you can actually help prevent inflammation.
Here is the part I think many of us know and just do not want to change. Let’s face it, life is busy and some of the items I am about to mention definitely make fast, busy days a bit easier, or do they make them harder?
If you read or listen to anything about food today I think you will constantly hear that processed foods lead to inflammation, obesity, diabetes, and a long list of potential health problems. Look at how much sugar is in everything you eat throughout each day. The items that may have the biggest impact on your body are:
REFINED GRAINS: Food that has been in our diet for some time now such as white bread and other carbohydrates that break down into sugar. Our bodies were not built to digest this type of food. The food was created to last longer and be more convenient.
SUGAR: Processed sugars trigger an inflammatory response in your body. Read labels to see all the hidden sugars in your food. Any food you grab for a burst of energy such as piece of candy, or soda, will spike your sugar levels and then leave you needing more sugar after so you do not experience a drastic drop in energy. Eliminate the sugars and you will see a decrease in inflammation and an increase in a more consistent energy level throughout your day.
SALT: It is no surprise salt is included on this list. Too much salt and you can notice inflammation rather quickly. I know for me, my fingers swell and it may be hard to get a ring off of my finger. Salt is hidden in large quantities in processed and packaged foods as well is in foods.
My grandmother used to say, “If I can’t pronounce it, I can’t eat it”. There is a real gift in that statement. Eating fresh foods, especially green leafy vegetables have been proven to help reduce inflammation. Fresh foods allow you more natural flavor, and ensures you do not put all of the preservatives and chemicals that packaged and frozen foods have into your body.
Today there are hundreds of easy to find and easy to make recipes available based on using fresh food. Write down what you are eating each day, change what you put in your body and see if it helps. Always check with your doctor or nutrionist to ask questions, share your thoughts and see if food can help you change the way you feel every day.