Inflammation – a term we come across quite often, but do we actually know what it is? Did you know that it could cause headaches, constipation, loss of appetite, or several other indications? Understanding what leads to this state holds the key to reversing the situation.
While most of us are born healthy, we mess up along the way and invite a state of dis-ease.
You know that gut feeling inside you which tells you something is wrong, although it all looks fine on the outside?
Human evolution gave birth to the concept of health and disease. It is the human intellect that created medicine and developed it. It is the need for comfort which allowed innovation. The luxury because of innovation created a space for destruction—particularly in the human mind and the body.
Simply put, we went from apples to apple pie, and it is high time we go back to the apple. Your gut will thank you.
Your gut feeling is your stomach thinking out loud to take a step back from luxury to comfort and further back to basic requirements. This retrograde advancement will create a path for holistic human health.
But how do we do it in the 21st century – sustainably?
Here we bring to you a complete guide on inflammation, and how to handle it through simple changes in your diet. And of course, in a sustainable manner.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is inflammation?
- 2 HOW TO AVOID CHRONIC INFLAMMATION?
- 3 HOW TO ADOPT AN ANTI-INFLAMMATORY VEGAN DIET?
What is inflammation?
It is essentially our body’s response to an injury. The injury varies from a physical external injury, which is seen by the naked eye, to an internal injury at a cellular level, which is not seen.
The causes of inflammation are vast, just like the signs and symptoms. Pain, redness, swelling, joint stiffness, headache, constipation, muscle ache, loss of appetite, even loose motions are all inflammation.
In women, cramping pain in the abdomen during periods, mood swings are also due to inflammation.
In menopausal women, sudden changes in body temperature, itching, and burning in the body are also a sign of long-standing inflammation.
Is Inflammation Bad for You?
Quick recovery from short-term infections is a sign of good immunity. But persistent health problems are a sign of long-standing issues and need to be corrected.
For this, we need to understand acute and chronic inflammation.
Acute inflammation lasts only for 5 – 7 days in the body. The tissue damage or the damage at a cellular level is small and often the body can bounce back quickly. The pain, redness, swelling last only for a couple of days. This is not something to worry about and is treated with dietary changes and a doctor’s prescription.
Fever, cold, cough because of sudden weather changes are examples of acute inflammation. They are indicators of an active metabolism.
Chronic inflammation lasts for several months and even years. The body fails to identify the source of primary infection. It keeps fighting for a long time. An unhealthy diet, irregular sleep patterns, sedentary life, and unknown infections together keep the body injured for a long time and cause metabolic dysfunctions.
Sometimes the immune system cannot identify healthy body tissue and considers it also as a source of infection. Disorders, as a result, are auto-immune disorders. They cause significant damage to the body and require a very holistic approach to treatment, which majorly includes corrections in the diet.
Cancer too is long-standing inflammation wherein the body’s cells multiply and attack the surrounding tissue.
HOW TO AVOID CHRONIC INFLAMMATION?
First, it is important to get a sufficient amount of sleep. Sleep repairs the body and regulates hormones. The cells rebuild themselves, excrete what is unnecessary. This will ensure a positive metabolism and a reduced risk of getting chronic diseases.
Fat burns in sleep. The hormonal balance will help ensure a good body weight. Sleep refreshes the mind, and we all know the positive impact of good mental health.
Get the body moving
Leading a sedentary lifestyle is like shooting yourself in the foot. Of the several benefits of moving around – be it walking, running or any other exercise, they all lower chances of chronic inflammation. Not just adults, but kids these days are physically inactive as well. We must encourage them to walk more, run more, and sweat more. To inspire the younger generation is the responsibility of the one they look up to. If adults and the elderly are physically engaged in various activities – society will benefit in the longer run.
Food is the best medicine
Last but not least, adopt a natural diet. A balanced vegan diet – will prevent and treat many chronic conditions. A vegan diet has anti-inflammatory benefits beyond measure. It keeps the stomach light and tight.
Ever wondered the reason for a bloated body? It is inflammation because of an injured gut.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO RECONSIDER YOUR FOOD CHOICES ?
Doctors and nutritionists around the world are now convinced that a good natural diet is the best possible prescription for inflammation.
According to a WHO report, 71% of all deaths are because of non-communicable diseases. This is equivalent to 41 million people who die each year globally because of lifestyle disorders.
Non-communicable diseases include heart attacks, stroke, asthma, diabetes, hypertension, thyroid, inflammatory bowel disease, and cancer.
They affect children, the elderly, and pregnant women equally.
The major risk factor in lifestyle disorders is an unhealthy diet. Eating processed food, meat, fast food, unwanted oils, and too much fat increases the blood cholesterol, affects the liver and, as a result, slows down metabolism. This leads to insulin resistance in the long run and causes disease.
A natural diet rich in fiber, nutrients, phytochemicals, and all essential vitamins and minerals is essential to help lower cholesterol levels and control blood glucose. With good metabolic parameters, the human body functions well. This leads to a lesser risk of developing any disease.
A book called Inflammation, Lifestyle, and Chronic Disease: The Silent Link talks about the role of inflammation in long-standing diseases. It investigates the link between lifestyle and disease. It also presents research on how suppression of long-standing inflammation can help prevent and treat chronic diseases.
HOW TO ADOPT AN ANTI-INFLAMMATORY VEGAN DIET?
A vegan diet is a conscious choice.
Start small. You don’t have to go all out and buy everything at once.
Start with eating only fruits and vegetables once a week or once a day. Take notes of how your body is responding to it. You don’t have to use all the spices and herbs mentioned in a google list. Start with what is available in the kitchen.
Buy groceries as per requirement. Use them. Build an affinity for new vegan recipes.
For instance, you can switch out the ham in your sandwich with tomatoes, beans, lettuce, and cheese. With time, you can find a vegan alternative for cheese and avoid dairy too. The protein part of a salad can be chickpeas instead of chicken slices.
As you get used to this diet, you will automatically develop a liking for natural food. Instead of a lime soda –you will prefer fresh lime juice. Soda causes inflammation, but fresh juice is refreshing to the gut.
This way, the body has time to get adjusted to a new palate.
It takes time and effort to make these changes.
It is important to slow down and rethink our choices.
The oil which is used to cook our food is also plant-based – but there is an enormous difference between palm oil and olive oil. The latter is healthier.
Diet is only one aspect of being a vegan.
Many strict vegans like Joaquin Phoenix, even avoid wearing leather to support animal welfare.
It is not economically possible for everybody to make all changes at once. But with time, it is a possibility for everyone. It is a great initiative for human and animal welfare alike.
The ecological footprint is a measure of human impact on the environment.
An anti-inflammatory vegan diet improves the ecological footprint directly.
Animals don’t get sick often. Because they live the way they are built too.
As intellectually advanced beings we must make choices that work to our advantage.
HEALTH AND HOMO SAPIENS
An abstract from the Position of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that “appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and athletes. Plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products because they use fewer natural resources and with much less environmental damage.”
VEGAN OR VEGETARIAN
Choose whichever suits your lifestyle the best.
A vegan is an individual who abstains from the use of animal products, particularly in the diet.
Vegetarian diet includes dairy–milk, cheese, butter, and honey–which are all from animals directly or indirectly.
A vegan diet is a mix of the below-mentioned food substances, most of which are available in every American household.
o Fresh fruits and vegetables
o Nuts and seeds
o Whole grains – rice–polished and brown, wheat, millets, quinoa, oats, corn, barley, buckwheat, amaranth
o Legumes – chickpeas, black beans, lentils–brown, red, yellow
o Soy products
o Spices – turmeric, cumin, cardamom, cayenne pepper, ginger, garlic powder, chili powder, onion powder. Some more spices include mustard seeds, fennel seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, paprika, chili flakes, and many more.
o Herbs – basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage, bay leaf, parsley, cilantro, mint, curry leaves, dill
NOTE: Those who are allergic to any of the items mentioned above or any item which is omitted–like soy, nuts, or gluten, can consult their doctor or nutritionist for customized plans.