What if there was ONE unifying cause of all your health and wellness issues? If there was one thing you could target that would resolve your blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, dementia, even bad skin and aging? Well there may actually be a root cause of all these conditions and more. That thing is INFLAMMATION. Chronic inflammation is widely recognized as the central pathologic feature of all the things that kill us the most, such as heart disease, diabetes, strokes, and even cancers. But even if you consider yourself healthy and disease-free, stopping chronic inflammation can be your ticket to slowing the aging process, better skin, less infection like colds and flus, and even faster athletic recovery and less injury.
Everyone is familiar with acute inflammation. It is the body’s natural response to injury, infections, or any type of damage. The redness, warmth, and swelling that happens when we injure ourselves is the way that the body heals. The process is complicated, and it involves things like cellular mediators, hormones, oxidative stress and coagulation factors. But if we didn’t have those biologic mechanisms, we wouldn’t make it out of childhood. What happens when that inflammatory process that is so beneficial when you twist your ankle or catch a cold, never shuts off? The result is CHRONIC INFLAMMATION and a myriad of conditions, many of which are life-threatening. The problem with a chronic inflammatory response is persistent oxidative stress and free radicals, which run roughshod through your DNA, cells and organs to produce damage. For example, it is free radical and oxidative damage that destroys the sensitive lining of your blood vessels, makes your heart arteries stiff (raising your blood pressure), and even changes cholesterol into a form that becomes sticky and eventually blocks your arteries and leads to arteriosclerosis and heart attacks. And it is also free radicals that age the skin prematurely and cause wrinkles.
Although there are many sources of chronic inflammation (such as smoking, toxins, etc), the main causes are the foods we eat. Animal products, processed sugars and white flour all produce those inflammatory reactions. The good news is that the acute inflammation dies down in about 4 hours. The bad news is that then it’s time for lunch and the process starts all over again! But if the thought of chronically being bombarded with inflammatory mediators scares you, there is a fix. ANTI-INFLAMMATORIES. And the place to find these amazing substances is in plants. Not in a pill or a bottle, but in actual unprocessed plant foods. The scientific term for these compounds is phytonutrients. These are plant derived substances that have a wide array of amazing properties, such as removing free radicals, deactivating cancer-causing substances, improving immune function, and stopping inflammation in the vessels and organs. Unleashing the anti-inflammatory power of phytonutrients is simple: eat plants, and eat lots of them. It is also best to eat a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds, because there are thousands of phytonutrients (one vegetable can contain dozens of them) and they act together synergistically to exert the maximum health effects.
The takeaway message is that it isn’t necessary to treat a host of conditions with different methods. Attacking the underlying chronic inflammation will resolve the majority of health issues, from the minor to the life-threatening. And it is as easy as a trip to the produce section of the grocery store or the farmer’s market