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My husband is a healthy, young, (and incredibly handsome) middle-aged man who sometimes feels much older. Shortly after returning from our favorite restaurant, he often complains of arthritis-type pains in his shoulders and upper arms. I tell him he has fooditis. I get fooditis when I eat out too, especially Mexican food (which is my favorite). By the middle of the night and all the next day one of my knees hurts when I bend it, and it sometimes goes out as I go down with a shriek, “Ahh! ” Arthritis, fooditis, they’re so interrelated it’s hard to separate the two because every bite of food and every sip of drink affects inflammation – it either causes or increases inflammation or it decreases inflammation. With my knee, I damaged it by skating, or rather by falling when I was attempting to skate when I was in my late 40’s.
Smart, I know. My knee is fine except when I eat unhealthy cooking oils. Inflammation strikes you where you’re vulnerable when you eat food that causes you inflammation. Different foods affect different people differently. So how do you know which ones bother you? It’s pretty simple really. The first step is to know which foods tend to be inflammation-causing and which foods tend to be anti-inflammatory.
The second step is to take note of how you feel after you eat. Most cooking oils, especially ones used in restaurants, fast food chains and prepackaged foods are unhealthy and inflammation causing. Avoid them like the plague if they are: What you want in a healthy cooking oil: These usually are found in the form of: Don’t freak, there are other healthy oils for cooking, we’ll cover them in a moment! Let’s talk about why you might want to avoid the oils listed above. Genetically modified oils or any “food” that’s genetically modified is no longer food as your body knows it. Foods found in nature are part of nature and naturally contain the enzymes necessary to break them down or digest them. Genetic modification is done in the laboratory; the product is not found anywhere in nature; it is unnatural.
What is unnatural goes against nature. Your body doesn’t know what to do with it, it doesn’t recognize it. But your body is part of nature so it does what it’s supposed to do. Your body attempts to protect itself from the foreign invader by partitioning it off with inflammation. Inflammation is the natural way the body protects itself from harm. Like with my knee, it hasn’t finished healing yet, so when I eat tortilla chips made with gmo-corn and fried in gmo-corn oil (around 95% of all corn is gmo), my knee swells from inflammation to protect my injury from the harmful, unnatural substance passing through my body. The unhealthy oils don’t seem to bother my husband as much as they do me, but certain meats cause him lots of pain.
I’m sure the unhealthy meats affect me too, but it’s not so obvious… yet. In nature animals live outside in the sunshine and eat their natural foods. Not anymore. The meat you buy in the grocery store and the meat used in restaurants, fast food chains and prepackaged convenience foods are factory-farmed. What that means is that they live and die indoors in overcrowded, inhumane, disgusting, filthy quarters. They are packed into a factory — not just after they’re slaughtered, but their whole lives. They are not able to move around, get sunshine or eat their natural diet.
Beef — it’s what’s for dinner — was likely a very sick cow since it stood indoors in manure most its life, was fed gmo-corn and gmo-soy instead of green grass, and had to be on growth hormones and antibiotics so it would grow fast to get to market faster and not die prematurely from all the filth and disease. Google it (actually, I like the search engine, Ixquick.com) to find the latest stat, but something like 85% of all antibiotics are used in food “production. ” Yum, let’s pig-out on pus. Speaking of pigs, they’re raised indoors too in the same awful conditions. Gmo-corn and gmo-soy are not their natural diets, they don’t get sunshine, and they don’t get to move around. Imagine being imprisoned, put in a straight-jacket for life, fed prison food, got sick and no one cleaned you up. Don’t worry, just be sure to heat your meat to a high enough temperature so you don’t get sick too.
Chickens are healthy because they are lean, right? Wrong! They’re factory-farmed too in the same deplorable conditions, except their beaks are cut off so they don’t injure each other more. They get freaked out in such tight, loud, scary conditions and their flight or fight response kicks in. Nowhere to go, so they fight. No sunshine, no natural feed. For years we’ve heard that meat and eggs cause high cholesterol and heart attacks.
Fat is bad for you; it makes you fat. Eat lean meats and a low-fat diet. Sadly, we didn’t know what we needed to know. The meat and eggs that are bad for health come from the factory-farmed animals; meat and eggs from animals raised in clean, natural conditions and fed their natural, wholesome diet are not just good for human health, but extremely good for human health. Why? You’ve probably heard of Omega-3 and Omega-6. Omega-3 is the KING of anti-inflammatory.
It takes sunshine, exercise and pesticide-free foods that are natural to the animals’ diet for Omega-3 to be produced in the right ratio to Omega-6 (too much Omega-6 causes inflammation). Animals raised indoors or not fed their healthy, natural diet do not have the right proportion of Omega-3 and Omega-6. Instead, these foods cause inflammation. It’s why my husband gets arthritis pains in his shoulders and arms after eating out. I bet there’s something else you didn’t know, unless you’re a fan of Dr. Weston A. Price, like me. The body needs minerals for good health. It’s not enough to eat foods high in minerals (which you probably aren’t if you’re eating like most Americans).
In order for the body to use the minerals properly, you have to get sunshine, exercise, and eat fats from animals that were raised in the sunshine and ate their natural, healthy diet. One of my kids ate extremely healthy foods and no junk foods because of his allergies, and he brushed and flossed his teeth regularly, but he still got cavities all the time. It was amazing how anyone who ate so healthy had such poor dental health. After learning what I’m sharing with you now, I added grass-fed beef and grass-fed butter to his diet and sent him outside more, and his teeth stopped getting cavities. His body is now using the minerals he eats from the mineral-rich organic greens and vegetables. Without the right fats in your diet, you starve your body nutritionally. Minerals are alkaline-forming and anti-inflammatory.
Where do you find them? Minerals packaged in bottles on store shelves aren’t in their natural form, they don’t grow into pills! The best way to get plenty of healthy minerals is to eat them in their natural source which is organically-grown greens and vegetables. Unlike vitamins and fiber, minerals don’t cook out, so they are abundant in cooked dishes as well as salads. How about the can of green beans in your pantry? Unless they’re organic, they were likely grown in mineral-depleted soil treated with massive amounts of chemicals that are inflammation-causing and overload the liver which causes more health problems. Organically grown crops are rotated regularly and grown in healthy, rich soil with lots of organic matter and healthy organisms.
Pests don’t like balanced, healthy environments; they can’t thrive. When you’re growing organic, you absolutely, positively have to keep your soil and the environment healthy and balanced – which is good for you and your health! Like any other food, vegetables are categorized by their properties. One family of vegetables are called nightshades and they tend to cause inflammation unlike most other vegetables that are anti-inflammatory. The nightshade family includes tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and peppers. If organic produce is not good for your budget, like me, you can easily grow some in containers in a small space. To my surprise, it was fun, easy, relaxing, and I love doing it.
A good anti-inflammation diet and can do wonders for someone suffering from arthritis, inflammation, aches and pain. I encourage you to try it for three days and see what a difference it makes. If you can make it seven days, you’ll see even more benefits. What is a good anti-inflammation diet? Here’s what it would include: Here’s the best-kept secret I can share with you. A small amount of meat, an ample amount of fat, and lots and lots of vegetables, some cooked and some raw, and a handful of nuts or seeds (easily prepared in a certain way) makes the best, tastiest, balanced and satisfying meal. You’ll be amazed how your aches and pains disappear and how much better you feel.
This probably doesn’t seem like much to go on, or much to eat, and that’s because it’s just a peak of a vibrant new world of food and health! I use a modified version of the Paleo diet combined with the dietary principles found on the Weston A Price website. But that’s a lot to begin with, so the simplest is start with a Paleo diet that includes ample healthy fats. There are thousands of mouth-watering Paleo recipes, most of which are anti-inflammatory. (Amazon.com has a huge selection, many are very low cost and some free, and you can preview them before you buy. ) After you’ve eaten Paleo for a couple of months and your inflammation pain is much improved, then go to Amazon.com and search for “Weston A Price” for additional resources. Why modified Paleo?
Because the concept started out low-fat but now many who follow this way of eating realize the need for healthy fat. It’s our primary fuel source (not carbs), is essential for brain health, body health, and emotional health. Fats make food taste good, make us feel full, and the right ones fuel our energy for many hours. Why Paleo first? I love eating Paleo, it’s a great place to start for many reasons. In our family we have many food allergies, finicky eaters and other inflammation-based health concerns such as balancing blood-sugar and thyroid function. A Paleo diet eliminates all, or most all food allergens while opening a vast variety of easy recipes with common ingredients.
Eating Paleo makes it easy to balance blood sugar and thyroid function and eliminate inflammation. Sugar, grains and legumes often contribute to inflammation, they’re not included in the Paleo diet. It’s like following an elimination diet that doesn’t feel like one. I’ll share with you my method I use for myself to make sure I’m getting enough, but not too much fat in my diet. I try eating between one and four ounces of protein per meal whether it’s meat, nuts or cheese. My calorie goal is about 1,500 calories since I’m a small-framed, middle-aged woman, so half of that is my target range for fat calories. 700 calories is around 6 or 7 tablespoons of fat a day.
More than that and I’ll start putting on fat, less than that and I get too hungry or grouchy (grrr! ). And here’s why I need to grow some of my own organic produce: my daily goal is 10 servings of produce. If the veggies are cooked, a half a cup (4 oz. ) is a serving size, and if it’s fluffy, like lettuce, one cup of shredded, bite-size pieces counts as one serving. That may sound like a lot of veggies, but since I add plenty of butter, coconut butter or olive oil and seasonings, my mouth waters just thinking of all the great foods! Buttered broccoli, carmelized carrots, huge salads with (raw, organic) cheese, olives and nuts, guacamole, caprese, gazpacho, antipasto, kabobs, jalapeno bacon poppers, sweet potato pie… and the list goes on as my stomach growls!
I know eliminating inflammation-causing foods sounds scary at first and you think you’re going to feel deprived, but it’s a matter of how you see things. At first your emotions get the best of you and block your capacity to see the bigger picture of how much better you’ll feel AND the vast multitude of food choices you actually have. It’s something you slowly figure out as you move forward. There’s a delicious, healthy version of just about every food out there, it’s just a matter of mental attitude, time and creativity before you find it. Have you noticed that sometimes your aches and pains flare up more when you’re stressed? You feel stress because it’s real and stress causes chemical and biological reactions in the body, the big one being inflammation. How you feel is very important.
Feelings are felt in a different part of the brain than the intellect. Scientists now tell us there are three distinct parts of the brain: the intellectual, the emotional and the instinctual. The intellectual brain doesn’t really get what the emotional brain is feeling unless you tell it in terms it understands. When you use words to express how you feel, the light bulb goes on and the intellectual brain goes to work to figure out how to cope with the stress. Using words to connect the emotional and intellectual parts of the brain helps move you from a feeling of helplessness and chaos to seeing hope on the horizon. It empowers you to move forward. The part of the brain that controls body functioning is always listening to the other parts of the brain and responds accordingly.
The fastest way to change your body chemistry is to communicate to your brain with your brain. Brain power is more than mind over matter; your brain is your command center. Talking is effective whether to yourself, your pet, another person or as prayer. I’ve also found writing to be profoundly helpful. As you write your thoughts out, your unconscious mind communicates with and through your conscious mind and you discover insights, connections, and other things you didn’t realize you knew or felt. If you’re writing in your journal, you don’t have to worry about what you’re saying, how to say it, or who it might offend; you just speak your mind and heart. Another benefit of journal writing is that you become more aware of how you feel and what you do.
After a while, you find yourself “journaling” in your mind which helps the parts of your brain communicate with each other more often and improve your stress management. The next time you feel stressed, tell someone how you feel or pull out your paper and pen (actual or virtual) and start writing! What do you usually eat for breakfast? What do you often eat for lunch? What do you find yourself eating for dinner most often? How about snacks and desserts, what do you eat most? What do beverage do you drink the most?
Do you consume some of the same foods or drinks everyday or every meal? List the foods and beverages you consume regularly that contain sugar or sugar substitutes, soy, vegetable, corn, canola, safflower, sunflower or peanut oil, margarine, dairy, meat, wheat, gluten, corn products, artificial flavors, artificial colors, preservatives, conventionally-grown produce, can goods, prepackaged convenient foods, fast food, restaurant foods, or genetically-modified ingredients: These are possible culprits that may be causing you arthritis, inflammation, or other aches and pains. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 low, 10 high), how would you rate your stress level? If your score is 6 or above, keeping a journal may help reduce your stress level. Considering all the options offered in this chapter, what is ONE thing you could do to make a positive change toward minimizing your inflammation-based aches and pains? Is this one thing something you want to do? If so, why?
If this one thing is something you want to do, what do you need to do to be able to successfully implement it? I warmly thank you for your invaluable insight!