I can’t tell you how under-diagnosed inflammation is. And it is one of the main keys to staying healthy. If your body has chronic inflammation going on, you can not function at your peak and you’re at risk for cancer, heart disease and stroke. And getting older doesn’t mean you have to deal with this or “put up with it”. You can reverse it! The common myth is that as we age, we are certain to ache and be stiff in the morning. NO! One of my favorite authors Kris Carr put it succinctly:
…There’s a silent (yet violent) kind of inflammation that can take place without you even knowing it. What you eat, drink, and think (stress!), environmental toxins, smokin’, booz- in’, and even a couch-potato lifestyle can create a fiery cascade of inflammation in your body. When your body hits an inflammatory overload, your defense system gets so overwhelmed and confused that it literally doesn’t know the difference between the invader and you. As a result, your well-meaning immune system turns on itself, destroying healthy cells, tissue, and everything else in its wake. It’s like when Al Pacino played Tony Montana in Scarface. He mows down everything in sight, yelling, “Say hello to my little friend!” In a word: shit!
So, how do you know if you have inflammation going on? Here are some red flags:
- You have an auto-immune disease like fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. (there are many others)
- You notice your body is puffy, your face is puffy, and you feel stiff when waking.
- rosacea or flushing in your face most of the time.
- asthma or shortness of breath
- frequent infections
- dry eyes
- skin outbreaks
- weight gain/obesity
How to reduce inflammation:
- Remove processed food from your diet. No more Cheetos, mac and cheese, pre-made boxed dinners. Fruit, protein, vegetables, and good fats only. (see my post on good fats)
- Have allergy testing done for food allergies IF you have an autoimmune disease or many of the major symptoms above.
- STRONGLY Consider eliminating wheat and dairy from your diet for 3 weeks and evaluate if you feel a change in symptoms.
- Ask your physician to test your CRP. I usually have a HS CRP done (high sensitivity). C Reactive Protein is produced any time there is inflammation in your body. Do NOT have it tested if you have the flu or a cold or any acute illness. Wait until it is over.
- Exercise: exercise reduces inflammation. Period. Do it.
- Add a multivitamin, Vitamin D, probiotics and fish oil to your diet. Fish oil is an especially effective anti-inflammatory.
- Reduce stress. Meditation, Yoga, counseling, talking to your family about why you’re stressed can all help.
Probably the most dramatic way to demonstrate this is in my own photos of my face before and after changing my diet. Yes, I’ve lost weight, but I’ve also lost a TON of inflammation. In fact, my CRP (a measure of inflammation in the body) is normal now (1.0). It was very high (8!) when I first began my mercury removal. To put this in perspective, anyone, especially women with a CRP above 3.0 are considered at increased risk for a cardiac event or stroke. At 8 I’m lucky I hadn’t had a cardiac/stroke event.
My husband didn’t want me to post the photos. He was afraid I’d regret it. But if it helps even ONE person figure out their story, it’s worth it. I look TERRIBLE in some of these photos. And here’s the bottom line: IT WASN’T MY FAULT, AND I FIGURED IT OUT with help, and never surrendering to despair (not that I didn’t feel despair, I did). Again, for any of you battling your weight, it ISN’T YOUR FAULT. Yes, I made bad choices, but I also had no functioning thyroid, insulin resistance from mercury toxicity and all the problems that go with hypothyroidism. So, if every time I ate my insulin levels went sky high, I WAS truly hungry. Famished. ALL the time. So, I’m being vulnerable publishing these photos because it is the right thing to do. It is a visual history of my road back to health. There is a lot of Shame associated with being overweight. If I could take the Shame away from every heavy person and say go figure out your story and get help, I’d do it.
Again, I’m going to quote Brene Brown: “Shame, for women, is this web of unobtainable, conflicting, competing expectations about who we’re supposed to be. And it’s a straight-jacket.” And here’s the deal: “Empathy’s the antidote to shame. The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle: me too.” So, I will say “Me Too, I get your pain if you’re heavy, I’ve lived it”. And I am your biggest cheerleader. I may be a few miles ahead on the journey, but lose the straight jacket and step into your life. It’s worth it!
See below for more reading on all this.
Further reading on inflammation:
How to Cool the Fire of Inflammation
Read more about CRP and what it is here.
How do I know if Inflammation is a Problem for Me?
Hyman on Huffington Post on Hidden Inflammation
Such an AMAZING journey you’ve been on Eileen. And so courageous of you to share. I’ve battled with headaches/migraines for 18 years and have made so HUGE changes to my diet and I had “thought” I was a relatively healthy eater. I had no idea the damage I had done with my “fat free” diet. Glad that’s over and HELLO peanuts & coconut oil. Mmmm. Thank you!