What is the most common health issue we are dealing with today?
Diabetes? Heart diseases? Covid-19?
No! None of these!
The most common health issue today, is in fact, something that is causing all the above and much more. It is a silent killer - giving off almost no symptoms at all, spreading and growing inside us all. This silent disease that seems to have got us, healthcare professionals, feeling like we are fighting a losing battle is called "Chronic Inflammation".
What is this chronic inflammation?
It refers to a state where your body is constantly alert, looking for some invader or abnormality somewhere that needs to be curbed. Inflammation is your body's natural response to something alien or unknown entering.
Ideally, this state of alertness should last for a couple of minutes to maybe a few hours at best! However, nowadays, our urban, unnatural, adulterated lifestyle has been causing this state of alertness to become a permanent feature in our body.
This constant state of stress leads to a shift in equilibrium. Everything from weight, hormones, memory, thyroid function, digestion, etc. get negatively impacted. This is what makes chronic inflammation the root cause of all our health woes.
Worldwide, three out of five people die as a result of chronic inflammatory diseases.
What causes chronic inflammation?
Consumption of unhealthy fats: All your refined oils (even the ones with health claims), processed cheese, mayonnaise, foods fried in cheap oils like chips, namkeens, etc., butter (not the homemade white butter), margarine, basically anything form of fat, that you cannot imagine being made at home. These food-like substances are pro-inflammatory, which means they increase inflammation in your body.
Sugars: White sugar, jaggery, maple syrup, honey, molasses, syrups, malts, juice concentrates, artificial sweeteners literally anything which is sweet in taste and requires a fair bit of processing before it can be consumed, can be categorized as “Sugar”. Sugar disturbs the gut microbiome, promotes the growth of unhealthy pathogenic bacteria, causes the release of chemicals that increase inflammation throughout the body.
Excess salt: Table Salt, pickles, each and every packaged food, chips, namkeens, papads, cheeses, sauces & condiments are all loaded with sodium. Excess sodium from the salt can also raise your blood pressure and causes oxidative stress.
Gluten: Wheat & wheat products, Barley, Rye - whole grain, flour, maida, cake flour, bread flour, all-purpose flour, semolina (rava), vermicelli (sevaiya), noodles, pasta, bread, biscuits, khakhras, breakfast cereals, etc. The wheat we eat today has been genetically modified into a form of wheat that we can no longer digest. This is why most of us are developing wheat allergies these days. Gluten causes the immune system to jump into overdrive. Gluten seems through the gut membrane and causes a whole cascade of immune reactions and hence increasing inflammation.
Dairy: For most of our lives, we have been raised knowing that milk is healthy. But then what changed? We changed! Our body is not strong enough to digest certain foods that our ancestors could very easily. Lactose is one such example. A lot of people are allergic to dairy without even knowing it. Casein, the milk protein, is another molecule that can increase inflammation.
Smoking: This is pretty self-explanatory. Breathing polluted air is a close second to smoking.
High-Stress Levels: Stress levels cause a state where your body knows there’s something wrong but cannot really solve it. This, again, will lead to a rise in chronic systemic inflammation.
Sedentary Lifestyle: Understand one thing, your body is designed to do physically intense activities. You are made to walk, run, climb trees, climb mountains, and what not! Of course, those activities may not make sense today, but you still need to be active. This is in addition to your workout. You need to be on your toes more and sit less.
Solution: "Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle”
This needs to be our new normal. The way we eat, sleep, work, exercise, everything!
Let’s start with your diet. Just follow these rules:
Eat whole grains (cereals & legumes), nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables
Be predominantly plant-based
Eat animal-based products like dairy and meats up to thrice a week
Include lots of good fats (ghee, filtered oils, white butter, avocado, eggs)
Include lots of fiber
Eat as per season, geography, and your own genetic background
Eliminate the pro-inflammatory foods from above
Add a lot of variety to your diet. Don’t repeat anything more than twice a week. This includes the grain you use for your roti, the dal you make, the salad you eat, everything.
Eat a mix of raw and cooked foods to ensure the availability of antioxidants
Ensure your vitamin D levels are in order.
Anti-Inflammatory Foods to include:
Turmeric with black pepper
Coconut - meat, oil, milk, water
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, sardines, herrings, anchovies
Cruciferous vegetables like Cauliflower, Cabbage, Broccoli
Green Tea (make sure you pick the good quality ones)
Nuts and seeds especially Brazil Nuts, Flaxseeds, Almonds, Olives, Sesame Seeds
Make these Swaps! Refined Flours Whole Flours
Mithais and desserts Use natural sweeteners like banana, dates, figs
Highly processed breakfast Home-cooked breakfasts like poha, idli, etc.
cereals and breads
Packed juices, soft drinks, sherbets Buttermilk, Homemade sherbets, Coconut Water
Processed meat Lean meats, seafood
Refined oils like palm, soybean, Filtered or cold pressed oils like sesame, sunflower, rice bran, canola groundnut, mustard, coconut
Gluten rich foods - atta, dalia, rava, Gluten-free cereals - jowar, buckwheat, ragi, rice, maida, breads, biscuits, khakhras, puffed rice, bajra, rajgira
mathris, cookies, puris, etc.
A happy mind is a healthy mind. In your journey to perfect health, your mind will be your perfect partner. It has the power of creating everything you are dreaming of. So think right, think health, think happy at all times.
You can do any or all of the following to keep your partner happy:
Meditate for 30 minutes every day
Take up a hobby
Spend more time outdoors amidst Nature - go for a trek or a forest walk
Sit less - Get up every 20-30 minutes and walk around.
Go for a stroll at least once a day
Do a digital detox at least once a month
Observe Nature around you - the sky, birds, trees, bushes, whatever you can see
And of course! Laugh!
This is a starting point for you. If you can manage to do this by yourself, please start now. If you think you need some more guidance and support then I am always here for you. Just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can start!