Inflammation is a term we hear a lot these days, but what does it actually mean for us? I was doing a talk last night about my book and juicing and someone asked this very question, and so I thought I would give it an airing!
The definition in the dictionary is this: ‘a localized physical condition in which part of the body becomes reddened, swollen, hot, and often painful as a reaction to an injury or infection’. And basically I agree, but for me it goes much further than injury or infection.
Arthritis, Coeliac disease, Crohns disease, eczema , IBS and psoriasis are a few of the more commonly known inflammatory diseases but inflammation can cause problems in all sorts of ways; some of the symptoms include skin problems, aching joints, gut problems, cramps, swelling and pain or just a feeling of lethargy. The cause of inflammation is usually the result of the immune system kicking up a fuss because it has become overloaded, or because it has somehow got its wires crossed. And the reason for the immune system becoming overloaded is often to do with our gut under-performing.
I always start with the gut in my clinic - if your digestion isn’t working properly and you are not breaking food down properly then you are not going to be able to absorb the goodness that is in it for a start. But what really causes a problem for the immune system is that food particles, viruses and bacteria get through the gut wall and into the blood stream, causing your immune system to have a nervous breakdown and start to attack things that it probably doesn’t need to, and this causes inflammation!
Another major player in inflammatory conditions is stress - this causes the gut to become more permeable and so we are back to what I have said above.
To combat it, you need a three-pronged attack. Firstly, you need to remove or at least reduce potential causes and these include things like dairy, gluten, alcohol, caffeine and refined sugars.
Next, try if you can to reduce your stress - maybe do a bit of yoga or there are really good apps for meditation, such as Calm - Meditate, Sleep, Relax , or Headspace (I need a bit of guidance to help me focus!). Also getting enough sleep; sleep is underrated in our world so try to get more of it, you will be amazed at how differently your body feels when it is allowed to rest and repair. I know it is difficult to fit sleep in, but do try.
Anti-inflammatory diets are not only good for reducing inflammation but are alkalizing, energising and will help you feel brighter all round.
And lastly, eat right! Anti-inflammatory foods are not only good for reducing inflammation but are alkalizing, energising and will help you feel brighter all round. Include things like oily fish, nuts (especially almonds), lots of green leafy veg and avocados. High fibre foods such as brown rice, nuts, seeds, fruit and veg will help to remove toxins from the body and this will help to reduce any inflammatory responses.
Good fats are essential - they help the body to go down an anti-inflammatory route, so make sure you are getting your omegas! Turmeric is one of my favourites, it contains something called curcumin, which is a marvel with this sort of thing as is ginger, garlic and onions. Pineapple and papaya are not only anti-inflammatory but they also have digestive enzymes. Cabbage, juiced or otherwise has something called L-glutamine which can help to re-seal your gut, or you could try a herb called slippery elm, which when mixed with water is very soothing and healing to the digestive tract. There are lots of books available on the subject from Amazon, but the rules I have stated here are the basic principles.
Another option is that you can do an intolerance test; I have had a lot of success with these (I use a lab called Cambridge Nutritional, they have always been great and I would thoroughly recommend them. You send a little blood drop off to the lab to test on lots of different foods, and when you find out what the body is reacting to, you cut those foods out. Then get to work healing the gut, which will mean the immune system calms down and therefore the inflammation, and then you can start to reintroduce the foods that you have taken away and see if any symptoms come back… easy peasy!
If you are feeling a bit out of sorts it could be down to these factors, so be kind to yourself, listen to your body, don’t be scared to give yourself a break from certain foods and drinks while being mindful of how different foods make you and your body feel. If you are really stressed try to take more time to redress that, and in return you will feel far more able to cope with anything that comes your way.
Juice: Cleanse. Heal. Revitalize: 100 Nourishing Recipes and Simple Juice Fasts by Rosemary Ferguson, (Ebury Press) is £15.99 and available to buy from www.amazon.co.uk .