Detriment of Chronic Stress
To understand the importance of a healthy diet, we must understand the product of an unhealthy lifestyle. Our bodies constantly respond to daily stressors (Physical, Biochemical, and Mental/Emotional). Any stressor will increase inflammation in the body. Acute inflammation is a healthy response to temporary stressors, such as your finger swelling up in response to a cut. This allows your body to heal and prevent infection from spreading. Chronic inflammation, however, is the result of unhealthy lifestyle and chronic stress. Low-grade systemic inflammation is the underlying cause of almost every chronic condition plaguing our modern society.
Why Talk Inflammation?
The Downfall of the Modern Diet
Food is no longer food. Period. Ingredient lists are long lines of artificial ingredients, chemicals, and toxins. Sugar is added to almost everything. Meat is cage-raised and pumped full of corn, antibiotics, and hormones in addition to the horrific living conditions that expose animals to disease. Fruits and Vegetables are covered in pesticides and other chemicals to make them bigger, prettier, and last longer on the shelves.
Highly refined, processed foods are the main source of calories for the majority of Americans. We are consuming more, but getting less nutritional value and more toxins. Modern weight-loss diets focus on calorie counting without considering the QUALITY of food. Food has become a MAJOR stressor to our body.
America’s Favorite Ingredient
Over 95% of canned and processed foods have added sugar. Unless you are buying fresh ingredients and preparing meals at home, you are likely eating more sugar than you think!
- Causes insulin resistance
- Depletes the body of important nutrients
- Weakens the immune system
- Causes fatigue
- Triggers reward-pathway in brain = addicting!
Anything that comes pre-packaged with a label could, and likely does, have added sugars. It’s important to check labels and be an informed consumer!
When it comes to a healthy diet, it’s not just what you are eating, but what you are NOT eating that is so important.
The Paleo diet avoids grains, dairy, sugar, and legumes. These tend to be highly inflammatory foods, so eliminating them from the diet makes Paleo a naturally anti-inflammatory diet. It’s high in nutrient-rich meats, vegetables, nuts and seeds, fatty oils (olive, coconut, avocado), and occasional fruit (only when in season).
Paleo is just one example of natural, ancestral-type eating. No matter the specific diet plan, the most benefit for health is eating REAL food and avoiding highly refined and processed foods. We can argue about what specifically our ancestors’ diet may have looked like, but we know with 100% certainty they were not eating fast food and junk food!
The type of food we choose to eat is so important, but the quality of that food is also critical. Eating cage-raised meat pumped with hormones and produce covered with chemicals is not going to promote health. This is why buying fresh and local whenever possible is so beneficial. It’s important to understand where your food is coming from and the conditions in which it was raised or grown. Visit farmer’s markets or join CSA to take advantage of fresh, local produce and meat. Talk to the farmers and ask questions about the conditions in which your food was planted and harvested and conditions that animals were raised.
Buying local also encourages seasonal eating. The idea behind seasonal eating is that eating what is available in nature allows produce to be picked at its most nutritious and natural point, and not prematurely to be able to endure transportation. This allows you to enjoy a variety of food at the time nature intended! Of course, in certain parts of the country, this is difficult to do year-round. But take advantage of the different growing seasons available to you, and enjoy what you can from local farmer’s markets. This also supports local farmers and is better for the planet, win win! A diet rich in organic produce will also help boost your immune system! Organic fruit and veggies tend to have higher antioxidant, vitamin, and mineral content and less sugar! When you eat fresh and local, you get more of the good and less of the bad!
Remember, when it comes to our overall health, removing Interference is key! We are designed to be self-healing and self-regulating. By eliminating toxins from our diet and eating a diet rich in fresh and local meat and produce, we put less stress on our body, reduce inflammation, and give ourselves the ability to function at our best!