The Surprising Reason YOU Have Inflammation
By L. Markham McHenry, D.O.
Everyone has food cravings; even I do.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of cookies, pizza, a good burger and fries, potato chips and some ice cream.
You already know these foods aren’t healthy but you figure, What’s the harm if I don’t eat them every day?
And I’ve got news for you.
You might love these foods, but even the occasional treat can add up and cause your inflammation to skyrocket, putting you at risk for obesity, heart disease, stroke, cancer and more.
Take autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and lupus as an example. If you have one of these diseases, your body’s immune system is actually attacking itself even though there aren’t any foreign substances to ward off.
But what’s really happening is that your body is trying to fight off the foods it’s being fed. The foods that are supposed to nourish your body are actually breaking it down.
Even more subtle forms of inflammation like fatigue, headache, or muscle stiffness can be caused by your diet too. I see it every day in my practice – unexplained, vague symptoms that surprisingly get better when my patients make significant changes in their diet and lifestyle.
Let’s look at what’s actually happening in your body when you eat a piece of candy, or something fried or processed. Since your body doesn’t recognize these foods like it does when it eats chicken or broccoli, it actually thinks it’s an invader and expends a ton of energy to get rid of it. In the process, it damages the body’s tissues and when that happens repeatedly, your body falls victim to chronic inflammation.
These foods don’t seem too appetizing any more, do they?
Eating unhealthy foods also leads to a cycle of unhealthy thoughts and behaviors, which ultimately contribute to inflammation as well. You rationalize a 100 calorie-pack of chips is a better choice than downing a whole bag, but now you’re craving something sweet, you’re too sluggish to get to the gym, and you end up beating yourself up about it.
It’s not entirely your fault, either. Just 50 years ago, most people ate a bright, colorful rainbow of foods, but today processed, packaged, colorless, and fast foods are mainstays because they make our 24/7 world a bit easier.
But the Standard American Diet (SAD) is filled with inflammatory foods. Those artificial, processed, refined, preserved foods are low or completely devoid of healthy plant nutrients and fiber, and loaded with high-fat animal protein, sugar, and sodium. Their colors are sad, too: brown, yellow, white. Blah.
Not only that, but these foods are altered so much that it changes the characteristic of the food (think: potato vs. French fry). And when you eat it, it actually triggers the inflammation response in your body, much like stress does.
The bottom line: food can either be medicine or poison.
So which is it? Foods you think you love or a healthy life you love? It’s your choice.