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2 common habits that force inflammation to spread inside your body (and how to reverse it)

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(Article re-posted with Permission from www.mixwellness.com.)

High blood pressure has always been known as the silent killer, but inflammation is steadily becoming the new kid on the block about serious underlying health conditions. Conditions caused singlehandedly by a lifestyle that can be silent but deadly, affecting every facet of our health, leading to the development and progression of many diseases.

Inflammation, at its core, is the body’s effort to fight infection. In an acute situation, this is Mother Nature at her finest, protecting your body from bacterial and viral invaders. After the “war” is won, your body goes back to its normal state of affairs, and the inflammation subsides.

However, when we continually expose our bodies to injury through stress and foods that our bodies were never designed to process (trans-fats, sugar, refined grains, etc.), chronic inflammation occurs.

Public Enemy #1: Stress

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stress

It’s well known that stress wreaks havoc on the mind and body, but with research coming out of Carnegie Mellon earlier this month, the link between stress and inflammation is stronger than ever.

Cortisol, the body’s stress hormone is designed to be released when we encounter stressful situations. It’s the hormone responsible for the body’s natural “fight or flight” response.

But gone are the days where we are in an epic battle of life or death with our next meal, and such stressors are short-lived. Oh no, that was mere child’s play. We are chronically stressed thanks to our overbooked, time-constrained daily regimes. Piano lessons, anyone?

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When prolonged stress is present, the effectiveness of cortisol to regulate inflammation is compromised. Tissues become desensitized to the effects of cortisol, which leads to ongoing and worsening inflammation. You see where I’m going with this? Another vicious cycle is resulting in the development and progression of the disease.

Public Enemy #2: Standard American Diet

american food

In a recent article by Dr. Dwight Lundell, a well-respected heart surgeon, the culprit is cut and dry: the low fat, high (simple) carbohydrate recommended by the diet dictocrats and mainstream medicine for years. Specifically,

“the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flour and all the products made from them) and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn, and sunflower that are found in many processed foods.”

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Here’s the science behind it. When we consume simple carbohydrates like white flour and sugar, our blood sugar spikes. This results in our pancreas secreting insulin, whose main role is to bring our blood sugar back into normal ranges.

When we continually spike our blood sugar several times a day, not only do we become insulin-resistant, because of our pancreas cannot keep up (further leading to type 2 diabetes), but it is also “like taking sandpaper to the inside of your delicate blood vessels.” This is where inflammation occurs.

Adding insult to literal injury, the aforementioned “food” consumed that caused the blood sugar spike, was more than likely baked in one of the many omega-6 oils that just about every processed food contains (which supports a longer shelf life). 

And while omega-6s are indeed, essential to life, the correct balance with omega-3s is critical. A 3:1 ratio (omega-6s:omega-3s) is ideal and what produces optimal health, but due to the Standard American Diet, imbalances can run as high as 30:1.

Why is this a problem? When such an imbalance is present in the body, cells produce chemicals called cytokines, which directly cause inflammation.

But wait, it gets worse. Much worse. The extra weight many individuals are carrying around from these “foods” creates a vicious cycle of fat cells continually releasing cytokines in response to habitually elevated blood sugar. And then it happens again with the next crappy meal. And the next one…

Over time, this consistent beating results in heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Turn Back The Clock

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So what’s a Standard American to do? First things first stress less. I know, easier said than done, but think about downsizing your commitments in addition to creating some outlets for stress relief (exercise, yoga, meditation, hobbies, etc.). Start saying no. It’s liberating.

Second, eat real. Eliminate the processed, low-fat, no fat “foods” that have gotten us into this mess.

Eat food:

  • That our grandparents would have identified as food: whole, fresh, (naturally) colorful, and nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables
  • Food that goes bad
  • Rich protein sources from grass-fed meat, wild caught fish, and pasture–raised poultry and pork
  • Whole grains and healthy fats
  • Grass-fed dairy and REAL butter.

Yes. You. Can.

“Forget the ‘science’ that has been drummed into your head for decades. The science that saturated fat alone causes heart disease is non-existent. The science that saturated fat raises blood cholesterol also very weak. Since we now know that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, the concern about saturated fat is even more absurd today,” states Lundell.

Trust me when I say this. The human body has the amazing ability to rebuild itself from years of damage. Trading in highly-processed, inflammatory food for nutrient-dense real food can single-handedly reverse arterial damage and inflammation, and add years to your life. It’s never too late.

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Kristen Boucher

Kristen Boucher

This post was generously contributed by Kristen Boucherof MixWellness.com.

Kristen Boucher is a registered nurse, healthy living junkie, health & wellness coach, real foodie, full-time working wife to an amazing husband, mama of two beautiful girls, creator of The Superwoman Slim Down: A Real Food Detox & Cleanse for Real Women, and Founder of MIX | Wellness Solutions For A Balanced Life, where she inspires busy women to lose weight, kick cravings, stress less, and cook delicious, healthy, and family-friendly meals so they can gain confidence, double their energy, and save money without crazy diets, countless hours at the gym, or quitting their day job.

Kristen can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+. You can sign up for her spunky newsletter, featuring secrets for weight loss, limitless energy, true happiness, and yummy real food recipes here.


Kristen Boucher
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