A Body on Fire: The Fat-Inflammation Connection
Most of us are familiar with inflammation. It is the body’s natural defense system against infections, irritations, toxins, and other foreign molecules. A specific cascade of events occurs in which the body’s white blood cells and specific chemicals mobilize to protect you from foreign invaders. Classic signs are pain, swelling, and redness. In fighting various ailments such as a sore throat, rash, or migraine headache, inflammation is a good thing. However, the natural balance of the immune system, which produces just enough inflammation to keep infection, allergens and toxins under control, can get disrupted by various foods. When this occurs, the immune system shifts into a chronic state of alarm or inflammation, spreading a smoldering fire throughout the body. This fire in the heart causes heart disease, in the brain causes dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, in the whole body causes cancer. New research links obesity and inflammation. Being overweight promotes inflammation and inflammation promotes obesity in a terrible, vicious cycle. Cooling off excess inflammation is critical to your wellness . Avoid or cut back on foods that promote inflammation -sugars, trans fats and hydrogenated fats, alcohol, refined grains, red meats, commercially-processed foods, and artificial food additives. Include in your diet foods that will boost your immune health and help control inflammation: berries, omega-3 fatty acids, extra virgin olive oil, turmeric, ginger, green tea, mushrooms, pineapple, papaya, avocados, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and sweet potatoes.
Fats: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
There are essentially three different kinds of fat: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Healthy fats enhance brainpower and help you lose weight, and bad fats drain your brain. “Good” fats are fats that turn on the genes in your DNA that increase your metabolism, help you burn fat more quickly, become healthier, and promote brain health. Examples of foods containing good fats are salmon, nuts and seeds, olive oil, avocados, flaxseed, and coconuts. “Bad” fats are the ones that affect slow your metabolism adversely, making it difficult to lose the weight you would like to and lead to cognitive decline. These fats can be found in vegetable oils (including corn, soy, and safflower oils) and saturated fats from beef, pork, lamb, chicken and dairy foods. “Ugly” fats are a different animal entirely. These are man-made fats that simply cannot be properly digested by your body at all. These fats interrupt the natural operation of your cells that have the capacity to affect your health in radically negative ways. These fats include trans fats and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats. Food containing these fats include cake and pancake mixes, cookies, crackers, frozen meals, French fries, and some breakfast cereals, corn/potato chips, and frozen pizza. The type of fat is more important the amount of fat you consume. Good fats promote a healthy body and a healthy brain. That’s the skinny on the fat.
Sugar: Not So Sweet
The average American consumes 150-180 pounds of sugar per year. Soft drinks and other sweetened beverages account for 66 percent of these calories in the form of high fructose corn syrup. Consider eliminating these empty calories from your diet, as the fructose goes directly to the liver and the glucose increase (blood sugar) affects the pancreas, triggering insulin spikes. As a result, your appetite will increase which will promote weight gain, and over time, can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. If the label on your food contains “high-fructose corn syrup” or “corn sugar” you can be sure it is not a whole food full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Minimize or avoid these foods. The can cause inflammation in your body.
Food is much more than calories; it is information. Food communicates with your genes to positively or negatively impact your health. What language is your food speaking?
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