Thursday, January 28, 2010

Food And Inflammation; Dairy's Dirty Little Secret

Inflammation. It can show itself in forms as obvious as joint pain, acne, and asthma , to forms less obvious and often silent, like heart disease.

In the last few years there have been more studies on how diet has a direct affect on the inflammation in your body. In other words, certain foods we eat have shown to increase inflammation therefore triggering pain and discomfort.

Among those common food related pain triggers (or common allergens) are meat, dairy, eggs, wheat, soy and certain citrus fruits. Many of these foods play major roles in issues such as joint pain, migraine headaches, asthma, digestive problems, and may be the triggering factor of many autoimmune diseases.

Interestingly enough, a large part of your immune system actually hangs out in your intestines and GI tract. When your body is intolerant to a certain food, your immune system kicks in which creates inflammation.

For example. As we age, we loose the enzyme to digest dairy. When our bodies can't digest something, it can cause our immune system to recognize that food source as trouble and may trigger an inflammatory response.

Lactose intolerant? You see commercials and advertisements for over the counter remedies everywhere. We are all lactose intolerant to some extent.

If you really stop to think about it, we are the only species that drinks milk from another species. Does it really "do a body good?"

When I stopped eating all dairy over three years ago, one of the first things I noticed (besides a significant decrease in joint pain) was that my nails weren't as brittle and were much stronger.

But more interesting than my finger nails, is that when you look at the countries that have the highest consumption of dairy (sourced form the cow) per capita, they also have the highest rate of osteoporosis per capita.

Food for thought, no?

So what can you do to fight inflammation?

You can start with eating a mostly plant based diet made up of real food. In other words, get rid of that processed crap.

A few years ago I read Michael Pollan's book "In Defense of Food" where he outlined a few simple rules that I always stick to when grocery shopping. A few of them being;

1). Shop the perimeter of the grocery store (or better yet, your local farmers market, when you can.). It's where all the healthy stuff is.
2). If it has more than five ingredients, don't buy it.
2). Make sure those five ingredients can be pronounced by your average third grader.
3). If your great great grandmother wouldn't recognize it as food, don't buy it.

Eat foods like leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, whole grains like brown rice and quinoa (that is not only hight in protein but also in fiber). Beans, nuts, seeds and legumes are also another excellent source of protein and high in dietary fiber.

Foods high in Omega 3 fatty acids have been proven to lower inflammation, aide in cancer prevention, increase immune function, and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. It was also shown that Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferrers who took Omega 3 supplements had benefits comparable to those taking NSAIDS (Non-sterodial-anti-inflammatory-drugs.)

Foods that contain high amounts of Omega 3's are flaxseeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, and pecans, or if you're into fish choose cold water oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies and sardines.

The most important thing is to realize that you don't have to sacrifice taste in order to be healthy. It wasn't until I went mostly vegan (with the occasional exception of fish...Escolar you complete me) that I realized how much I had been missing, and how much flavor and depth are in the foods that we often ignore.

Keep your eyes open for more recipes...Coming soon!

Happy eating!


m.a. said...

Well, this weekend, I'm going to do that scary thing when you get rid of all of the terrible things in your pantry.

I'm going to attempt to do without a lot of things, but I really like yogurt and the soy alternative just isn't the same, unless you know of any that are awesome...

Jenni said...

No...It's not the same. I was never really a fan of yogurt, therefore I never missed it.

Sometimes you just need to take baby steps, or cut back on other things, but keep the things you really enjoy and have them as a treat!

There's nothing wrong with that!

HealthNut2 said...

With all due respect, I disagree with much of what you said. The mostly plant-based diet which includes grains has proven to damage my health. When I removed ALL grains and sugars, added ORGANIC produce, grass-fed beef, lamb and wild game, as well as healthy free-range fowl to my diet, my health improved exponentially.

Furthermore, I have discovered that eating from the perimeter of your grocery store no longer constitutes healthy eating either. Unless you specifically choose organic produce, ALL produce in traditional grocery stores is laden with pesticides or genetically modified. To date, our government refuses to label GMO foods. All meats in general, are grain-fed and raised on antibiotics and hormones to fatten them up, and most fish sold in grocery stores is farm raised, and therefore contains traces of mercury.

These so-called "perimeter" foods in traditional grocery stores while a step up from boxed, canned or jarred processed foods, are for the most part void of nutrients and can even be detrimental to one's health. Naturally raised beef, fowl and ocean fish are the exception.

Also, while some people may metabolize grains without harm, it appears most do not. I am always shocked to see there are still grain and soy promoters for health. Unless you are eating your grains straight off the shaft directly from the field, all grains are processed. There have been many studies that show grains cause inflammation in the human body.

Think I'm full of it? I challenge anyone to one month of no grains, no dairy, organic produce and clean, grass-fed meats and wild salmon, and see how you feel. I'm 63 yrs. old, weigh 118 lbs, and have absolutely no joint pain. This was not always the case. Change your diet --- change your life.

Jenni said...

HealthNut2, I appreciate your comment! Actually, I do promote organic produce and have written many posts about it's benefits. Not sure why you disagree with much of what I said...Seems to me the only thing we disagree on are, as it seems, grains? And I'm not sure you understand that this is a gluten free vegan blog? So the grains of which I speak are primarily whole grain brown basmati rice and quinoa, both of which are typically not processed and have actually shown to decrease inflammation in the body.
I myself do not eat any meats except for wild caught fish (on occasion), and what I mean by shopping the perimiter of the grocery store is keeping it simple with your diet by whole choosing foods in their natural state and avoiding the processed foods that are typically found in the center isles.
I encourage you to check out the rest of the blog, I think you'll see that we agree on more than you had initially thought!

HealthNut2 said...

thank you Jenni

HealthNut2 said...

thank you Jenni

Jenni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenni said...

My pleasure! Thanks for stopping by, it's good to receive comments from like-minded folk who have taken control of their health! :)

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Kathy said...

great post Jenni! I could not agree more.