Nutrition and Inflammation

January 2010

Inflammation is one of the major causes of many health related issues. It is a major player in everything from Arthritis to Heart Disease to Yeast Infections.

It can be caused by too much of something or too little of something, and by external factors (like shoveling snow) or Internal Factors (like emotional imbalances).

The good news is that we can take steps to reduce almost all kinds of inflammation. One of the easiest ways is to look at what we eat and don't eat. Like it or not, our dietary preferences are a major source of inflammation for many of us. What makes this doubly sad is that what we can use what we eat to dramatically reduce our inflammation, regardless of its source.

First, let's look at some very common dietary sources of inflammation. They are:

  • All Meats, in varying degrees with Red Meat topping the list.
  • All Diary products, in varying degrees.
  • All products made of or with the most common grains (Ayurveda says rice is Satwa or neutral). Buckwheat, Oats, Barley, Millet are considered to be neutral.
  • All Fried Foods
  • All Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils
  • All Trans Fats
  • All foods with Added Sweeteners (except small amounts of raw honey)
  • Fruit Juices with no pulp which are very high in natural sugars (grape juice, apple juice, orange juice)

Do these items constitute a significant part of your normal diet? If so, they are a major cause of Inflammation in your Body, Mind and Spirit.

Whoa, hold on there! How did my Mind and Spirit get into this equation?

You must remember that in Eastern Philosophies, you cannot separate the Mind and Spirit from the Body. Our unconscious mind is aware of dis-eases we are not conscious of. Unwellness anywhere in our physical system can affect our emotions and general feelings about our life. If you still have trouble accepting this concept, ask yourself how feeling physically unwell affects your energy levels, your mood, your outlook on life. See what I mean?

One of the simplest ways to combat this is to incorporate more Anti-Inflammatory foods into our diet. These can include items such as:

  • Fruits, such as all berries, apples, cherries (tart are best).
  • Mono and polyunsaturated fats
  • EPA & DHA Omega 3 oils. Being a vegetarian, I get mine in pill form which uses algae as its source. Contrary to what most articles say, ALA is not a good source for DHA because the human body cannot convert it efficiently enough to do us any good.
  • Spices, especially Turmeric, Oregano, Tulsi, basil, cinnamon, thyme, rosemary, all hot peppers and paprika
  • Nuts and Seeds including Walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
  • Legumes especially, any red colored and Kidney shaped beans, mung beans, all sprouted beans
  • Fermented Dairy and Soy products
  • Vegetables, especially Broccoli and the whole Cruciferous family, kale, arugula
  • Teas, especially green and chrysanthemum

This is not an issue to take lightly. Even if the root cause of a problem is not some sort of Inflammation, some where down the list of effects you will almost assuredly find Inflammation of some sort. For example, old age is a general reduction in many of the causes of inflammation in younger people; yet, the very lessening of the causes of some kinds of inflammation can in-of-itself cause another kind of inflammation.

In general, any dietary item listed as cooling in both the Chinese and Indian medical resources will be a very good choice to lessen inflammation.If it appears as cooling in only one system, it is still probably fine; but, I suggest that it is not necessarily wise to randomly mix and match foods from the two systems, since the combination of foods is as important as any individual food. So for the most part, it is best to stick with foods recommended in one system; And, if it appears in both, then so much the better.

Emotionally, I am sure we all agree stress is a killer. Whether it comes from fear, anger, hate, too much or too little love, low self-esteem, a sense of hopelessness, etc., it all boils down to one thing: Inflammation somewhere in our being.

Spiritually, we can feel free, imprisoned, yearning, confused, etc. As you can see, some of these states of mind can very easily cause stress.

All states of stress disrupt the normal flow of our Internal Energy. Any variation from our normal flow of Internal Energy will cause stress, and therefore Inflammation, to appear somewhere in our being.

Not all, but most of the major conditions which are fatal stem from too much Inflammation somewhere in the body. If you want to live as you should, you must take steps to reduce Inflammation as much as you can, in as many ways as you can, as often as you can.

Taking steps to insure that the flow of our Internal Energy becomes as close to normal as possible for as long as possible is what this web site is all about.