Inflammation is a word derived from the Latin word meaning ‘fire’. What is inflammation? It is a reaction our body creates as a mechanism to protect itself. When the body is under stress of any sorts, it’s a natural reaction for it to attack whatever is causing this distress. This reaction can happen for things such as bug bites, abrasions, hives, etc. Sometimes though there is a thing called chronic inflammation when the body is continuously exposed to harmful stimuli, which can tax the body, and often times confuse it in identifying which invaders are bad and which are good. If the body is under constant stress often times this a welcome mat to disease. The defense system starts to get over stimulated, weak, and mixed up, therefore it starts attacking the body’s own tissues. This is known as an ‘auto-immune disease’. Crohn’s and IBS are classified as an autoimmune, just as arthritis, tuberculosis, cancer, & dermatitis. There are 80 known forms of auto-immune to this date and it is a common occurrence, effecting 5-8% of Americans. Did you know that 75% of those are women? Hmmm....interesting.
Many can argue why we have Crohn’s. I think we can all agree that something triggered our immune system, resulting confusion in our body’s ability to fight inflammation. Scientists can agree that its a cause of environmental influences interacting with genetic factors. Something threw things off balance. We may never know what exactly caused it for ourselves as individuals but at least technology is getting closer to understanding an overall cause.
Our bodies will always have a high chance to be in over-drive, under-drive or simple mass confusion but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to control it. I find it’s very easy to let our minds think that Crohn’s has a the upper hand and that we do not have control over this painful and debilitating disease. My goal here at The Green Lean Bean is to make people aware that you shouldn't allow disease to dominated you. I know thats easier said then done - trust me, I've been in the darkest places with Crohn's, but know there is hope. I have learned though over the years from my own experiences and by reading and listening about others, that we CAN have a say in our improvement.
- Get ample rest - 8 hours or more each night. Take naps if you can too.
- Get your heart going with light exercise such as rebounding or walking.
- Make your body more flexible with yoga or stretching. This will also allow your organs to work more properly.
- Calm the mind with deep breathing, meditation, and/or yoga.
- Get out in nature and take in what the earth has provided for you. Breath fresh air, appreciate all the colors, feel the breezes running through your hair, say hi to your neighbor.
- Avoid or eliminate all together dairy, sugar and gluten.
- Eat a diet rich in plant foods, fruits and antioxidants. Increase the intake of anti-inflammatory foods.
One step I would like to highlight from above that can help in fighting the imbalance that our body's have is eating a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods. Nature has given us so many foods that are enriched with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties and we should take full advantage of incorporating these into our lives. Even if you do not have an auto-immune disease, you should eat more of these foods to help avoid disease and illness. Aim for variety, include as much fresh produce as possible and avoid fast food and anything processed or filled with sugar.
Few things you can always find in my pantry that help combat inflammation are:
- Turmeric (I take in high-concentrated pill form)
- Boswelia (an ayurvedic Indian herbal supplement)
- Cinnamon (sprinkled on cereal, in smoothies and tea/coffee)
- Curry (sprinkled on sandwiches/salads and to make curry stews)
- Chili pepper
- Kale (salads, smoothies and pesto’s)
- Ginger (in fresh juices, added to soups, and pickled ginger in salads and sandwiches)
- Parsley (added to soups, salads, sandwiches and pasta dishes)
- Almonds (almond milk, raw almond butter, morning snack = handful of almonds)
- Omega-3 supplements (this can be in fish oil pill form or flax oil added to smoothies)
- Raw chocolate
- Green Tea
- Homemade Chicken Soup (freezer is always stocked)
The list doesn't stop there though! There is a huge amount of anti-inflammatory foods. This nifty Anti-inflammatory Food Pyramid will be helpful in showing you.
Your goal is to not just add one or two of these things a day but to have an overall large intake of these healthy foods. That is when you should feel the difference. Medicine may help with inflammation right away but eating food as medicine can take up to two weeks to notice a response within your body.
I can’t stress enough how bad sugar is on the inflammatory response. It is known that sugar suppresses the immune system. It is one of the most toxic foods for your digestive lining, stripping it from healthy bacteria, causing a PH balance and making it harder for your body to heal. Some of you may not feel immediate results from sugar intake like I do but it could be silently effecting your levels of inflammation and you may not even know it. I see it as one of the worst things you could ingest if you are suffering from an auto-immune disease. I know for me, it’s my worst enemy. Avoid it for awhile and add it back in and see if you notice a difference.
In the next few weeks I am going to share some super-duper AI recipes with you!