Inflammation is part of the body's immune response, and occurs when irritants, pathogens and damaged cells are recognised. The body will respond by trying to heal itself and defend against harm.
Think of a graze on your elbow, the skin starts to inflame and becomes red and puffy before it can heal itself. Just as you can recognise when you eat something that irritates your digestive system, you will feel and look ‘bloated’. Inflammation can happen on the outside and inside of your body.
The symptoms of inflammation are:
Causes of inflammation:
Diet – general bad diet, food allergies or sensitivities, imbalance of bacteria and fungi in your digestive system.
Foreign invaders – virus, disease, infection
Irritation – abrasions and cuts, external irritants like environmental pollutants
Intense exercise – Muscles become inflamed after use
Lack of sleep – interrupts the body's healing process and heightens levels of inflammation
So why can inflammation be bad?
Especially for me with all my sensitivities*, when I eat the wrong food, I react. Foods can cause an inflammatory response in your gut, affecting your whole digestive system and causing problems. When there is inflammation in the intestines, toxins are released into the bloodstream, making your body think there is a foreign intruder and starts to attack it.
Ever felt like this? The cause is probably inflammation!
Mastocytes and Macrophages are cells sent out to get rid of the toxic intruder – to do this, they notify the body’s immune response to begin ingesting foreign elements and alerting the rest of the protective cells throughout your body. Hence, whenever you eat that same food (or foreign intruder) the body will react the same way and think it is a toxin, starting up the protective process and causing inflammation.
Unhealthy or indigestible food entering your system is like a virus that triggers your immune response to act, which is where the bloated and sore tummy comes from. Many people respond badly to things like gluten, dairy, or fat and sugar, and may even have intolerances to them.
Here are some of the foods you could steer clear from that could possibly cause an inflammatory effect:
Processed and refined grains (white rice, white flour, white bread, pasta, crackers, biscuits)
Artificial food additives (aspartame, MSG, food colourings)
Common cooking oils (Polyunsaturated vegetable oils)
Processed and feedlot-raised meat
While these foods can cause inflammation, thank goodness there’s some that help to reduce it! Try including more of the following foods into your diet, and see if it makes a difference to how you feel.
Turmeric – an amazing superfood known for its healing power for reducing inflammation in the body. You can add it to juices or smoothies, curries, or a seasoning for your chicken. I love a turmeric latte with coconut milk! And I also use it as a main ingredient in my warm apple cider drink in the mornings to prepare my digestive system before I eat. If you don’t like the flavour, there are capsules you could take instead.
Omega 3s – found in oily fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines. If you don’t eat fish, there are supplements you can take, including flaxseed oil that is high in omega 3 fats.
Whole Grains – Brown rice, oats, spelt, kamut or quinoa are all whole grains good for your body. Steer clear of refined and processed grain!
Dark Leafy Greens – Spinach and kale are both great to include in your diet, for not just their anti-inflammation properties, but their overall goodness! They are full of vitamin E which helps to fight the molecules responsible for inflammation.
*My digestive issues are specific to me and what I have found my body reacts to. I have been able to pinpoint what foods have a negative effect on me, so have learned to keep them out of my diet – and I’ve never felt better. If you think you may have digestive issues or intolerances, please seek professional help to get the best opinion for your circumstances. Otherwise, for a more energetic, less bloated pain-free body, try cutting out processed refined foods, and include an array of fresh good wholefoods.
Emily Skye is a strength training expert and the face of FIT, the digital fitness app that helps women worldwide build strength and confidence, stay active through pregnancy and rebuild post-pregnancy. Emily holds a Certificate IV in Fitness and Master Trainer qualification from the Australian Institute of Fitness. She is also co-founder of James Cosmetics and a mother of two.
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