If you or someone you know has a peanut allergy, diabetes, Celiac disease, IBS or is lactose intolerant, you know that food can have powerful effects on your health. Eating the wrong foods can send you to the hospital, leave you doubled over in pain, or running to the toilet every 5 minutes.
Like it or not, your food choices have the power to harm you or heal you.
The good news is that you have the power to decide.
Scientists are discovering that some of the most common health conditions – allergies, arthritis, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and even Alzheimer’s disease – may be affected by the food you put in your mouth.
Inflammation is often the common factor.
Studies are showing that when the body is in a state of constant or out-of-control inflammation, health declines and chronic diseases develop. Inflammation has been called a silent epidemic, building up over years and triggering chronic diseases.
How do you know what you should eat or avoid?
Certain foods can make it more challenging for you body to heal itself due to how your body reacts to them. There are foods that can amplify inflammatory conditions, make certain organs work overtime, and put stress on your entire system.
Foods That Can Fan the Flames
There are certain foods that not only don’t help reduce inflammation, but actually provide fuel for the fire. Here are some foods you may want to reconsider if you’re deal with inflammation.
Reduce Or Eliminate:
Refined and processed foods – This includes pasta, white rice, white bread, cookies, crackers and anything with white flour.
Refined white sugar – Sugar is one of the biggest sources of inflammation, and is hidden in unlikely places! A little bit is okay, but cut back on sodas, candy, pre-sweetened cereals, and sugary snacks.
Red meat and processed meat such as bacon and sausage.
Balance your intake of Omega-6 and Omega-3 – Both are essential for the body, but in excess, Omega-6s promote inflammation. In addition to meat, refined vegetables oils (which are used in many cookies, crackers, snack foods and sweets) are high in Omega-6.
The nightshade family of plants – Some people (including myself) experience irritation, pain or amplified inflammation with these vegetables. They all contain solanine, a chemical alkaloid that can trigger pain in some people, especially those with inflammation of the joints, skeletal muscles or soft tissue. Nightshade vegetables include tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants (aubergine), sweet peppers (capsicums), and anything made from hot/chili peppers. Before you freak out, black pepper is not related (huge sigh of relief).
Food can also be a powerful healer. It can boost your immune system, reduce inflammation, and promote healthy cell regeneration.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” –Hippocrates
Healthy eating habits and food choices that are focused on reducing constant inflammation can improve health and fight off disease.
As with all diets or ways of eating, a lot has to do with your bio-individuality (what your unique body needs to be healthy). Do your own experiments, and if you find that you have an obvious reaction to any of these foods, don’t eat them or consult your naturopath or doctor.
Cooling The Inflammation
Here’s a list of the various foods, herbs and spices you can use to cool inflammation, internally and externally.
Herbs & Spices
*These foods may create an imbalance (too much heat) for those with a dominant Pita dosha.
- Anything with Omega-3 fatty acids – Flax, walnuts, pumpkins seeds oily ocean fish (salmon, tuna, sardines)
- Cruciferous vegetables – Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collards, and cabbage
- Colorful fruits and vegetables – Carrots, spinach, squash, chard, beets
- Berries – Blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, blackberries, goji berries
- Coconut oil
There are things to consider in addition to the foods themselves that affect the health of your body.
Will it Work For You?
We are all unique individuals, have different needs, and react in different ways to the world around. Food is no exception.
Although there are no “good” or “bad” foods (it’s more about moderation), there may be certain foods that work better for your body and others that your body reacts to. What might this look like?
You love steak but find that it makes your digestive system really upset.
You have arthritis and it gets worse in the summer when you gorge yourself on tomatoes and chili peppers.
You feel heavy and tired every time you eat bread, pasta or your favorite morning pastry.
As you explore the concept of bio-individuality, you will become more aware of how your body is reacting to the food you eat and how to reach optimal health.
If you are currently experiencing chronic inflammation, or simply want to increase your chances of preventing disease down the line, do an evaluation of your diet and see where your current food choices lie.
Help your food work for you, not against you.