With smoke prominent in the air these days, some may notice more respiratory and even eye irritations due to the poor air quality and particulates in the air.  It’s nice to know the smoke is temporary, but smoke is just one source of daily irritants that we are exposed to daily.

When we look at irritants as being a major cause of inflammation, we have some ability to find ways to reduce those irritants in our lives and thus reduce overall inflammation.  When inflammation is chronic and does not shut off or if it overreacts improperly, we can end up with big health issues.  This can be where our immune system is actually attacking our own cells in auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, crohns, and MS as examples.  Auto-immune reactions can be triggered by leaky gut, which is a whole other area that we will explore in next week’s blog.

What exactly is inflammation? In trying to keep this short for the space provided, in summary, inflammation is a brilliant defence mechanism triggered by damage to our living tissues as well as pathogens (invaders like bacteria) or toxins in our bodies. Any diagnosis with an “ITIS” refers to inflammation such as: gastritis, bronchitis, tendonitis, tonsillitis, and the “ITIS” list goes on.

Inflammation is an injury or issue in the body where the body reacts by providing 4 things:

  1. Pain / loss of function - to signal that there is an issue and thus to reduce mobility to allow that part of the body rest and heal.  Pain is usually a sign that the body has an issue to fix.
  2. Redness - caused by dilation of small blood vessels in the area which brings added healing materials to the affected site.
  3. Heat - results from the increased blood flow and heat/fever brings healing properties and can kill off invaders in the case of infections.
  4. Swelling - caused by accumulation of “defence” fluid outside of the blood vessels including histamines, hormones, mucous, white blood cells, etc 

Now, how do we help our bodies with resolving inflammation?  As a nutritionist, I feel food is a huge factor in helping our bodies to resolve this process. 

Pro-Inflammatory Foods - we have some foods that ADD to our inflammation challenges.  These would be processed and refined foods and sugars as well as fried, hydrogenated and trans fats.  Anything our body does not recognize as being real or whole foods is a trigger.   Omega 6 fats are good fats BUT having too much Omega 6 compared to Omega 3 can push us into a pro-inflammatory state.  More on that below.

Boost your Omega 3s and veggie intake with this Broccoli Egg Bake recipe.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods - on the other end of the food list, when we eat real whole foods like fruits and vegetables, greens, good fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut oil and unheated olive oil, as well as pasture raised and wild eggs, meat and fish, we are supporting our body to reduce inflammation and its by-products.  Drinking clean water helps flush out the by-products.   

Omega 3 power - increase your Omega 3 fat intake by eating free range eggs, chicken and meats as well as wild fish and fish oils, walnuts, chia, flax seeds and leafy greens to help keep a closer balance with Omega 6 fats.  Omega 3 fats are anti-inflammatory fats and eating them can help lessen inflammation.

Bonus - spices like turmeric (fresh root or dried) as well as adding fresh grated ginger and garlic and onion to your meals is a very helpful addition to your diet for resolving inflammation.

Give this Ginger Turmeric Tea recipe a try.

Summary - do a quick check list to see if the quantity of real whole foods is more than processed or refined foods in your meals and snacks.  Fresh and whole foods are best, especially when it comes to giving your body the resources to heal and reduce inflammation.  Listen to the signs and adjust what you are consuming based on that.  You can often improve your “ITIS” by making healthy food changes.

Have a great ITIS-reducing week!

Lisa Aschenbrenner, RHN - Registered Holistic Nutritionist 
For more information please visit RealFoodForThought.ca

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