Inflammed

The other day at work we had a patient who had been experiencing a lot of general pain.  Not in a specific area, just everywhere.  She could barely get herself out of bed and was feeling terrible.  She had recently been for some blood tests and the results were back – her C-reactive protein levels were 30mg per L of blood.  The acceptable level is 1-3mg.  This means that she is experiencing extreme inflammation.

So, you are probably wondering what inflammation is?  I know I’d vaguely heard of it before but it wasn’t obvious to me until I broke my foot last year.  I went to see my naturopath and she showed me how my blood looked different under a microscope compared to the past – it was inflammation.  She told me that this was great in my situation as it meant my body was working hard to repair my broken bone.   So, normal levels of inflammation are good and important for a healthy immune system to fight illnesses and heal injuries.  But high levels can be awful as this woman’s example showed.  It can also lead to bad skin, mood swings, heart disease, musculoskeletal pain, arthritis and chronic fatigue.

You might now be wondering what decreasing inflammation has to do with weight loss?  Well it has a two-pronged benefit.  Firstly, the dietary changes you can make to calm inflammation will have a great impact on your overall health and in turn may help you to lose weight.  The other thing is that if you feel like crap it’s harder to look after yourself.  It can become a never-ending cycle.  Crap food in, feel like crap, no energy to cook which leads to more crap food in… So, reduce excess inflammation, increase your motivation to look after yourself, and then you will lose weight.

As I’ve mentioned, you can help calm inflammation with the right food choices.  The first thing you can do is eliminate sugar and refined (white) carbohydrates.  A great way to do this is to crowd them out with lots of healthy food.  Always choose whole grains like brown rice and quinoa and eat nutritious treats like the bliss balls I wrote about here.  Try Sarah Wilson’s “I Quit Sugar” program – it works!  It really does.

The next thing you can do is avoid trans fats.  We all know we need to do this.  Avoid “hydrogenated” fats and replace with some good fats like avocado and nuts.  Seriously, how good is avocado on whole grain bread with some salt & pepper?  It really is so much better than a burger and chips isn’t it?  (I need to remind myself this from time to time too!)

Finally, increase Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.  These really do reduce inflammation.  You could just take a high quality fish oil but how much more fun is it to play around with your food?  Add ground flaxseeds or oil and walnuts to your smoothies or salads.  You can also include a couple of serves of oily fish each week – salmon & sardines are good choices.

Overall ,  get fired up if you feel like you want to lose weight.  Get involved in your nutrition, get out and move, practice mindful eating.  Not only will you look leaner, you will feel amazing!

I’ve got a another tip coming soon!