As a Portland acupuncturist and practitioner of functional nutrition, I start at the root — the very most basic part of controlling inflammation — your diet. Rule Number One to decrease inflammation is to Eat Real Food.
Now that you’ve read Article One (http://www.solsticeacupuncture.com/nutrition-portland-stop-inflammation/) in this series on inflammation, you’ve learned about some of the causes of inflammation. You’ve also learned some of the diseases and illnesses that stem from inflammation: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, arthritis, diabetes, chronic headaches, fibromyalgia, certain fertility issues. Now it’s time to dig a little deeper.
I won’t tell you that it is easy, but it is simple. Taking care of your body means taking care of your digestion, and doing that means getting back to basics. One of the cornerstones of Chinese medicine is nutrition and the foundation of nutrition eating a whole foods diet.
You know all of those exotic, brightly [artificially] colored, pre-packaged, no-cook, fake sugar, preservative containing foods? Stop eating them. That is the first place to start. Real food is food you could find growing in the ground, on a tree, that comes from an animal, and it also includes eating foods that make your body work well and feel good.
The other thing that goes hand-in-hand with eating real food is eating organic food (see this list of the “Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen” to see which fruits and vegetables should definitely be eaten organic). Pesticides do not enhance food. They are not considered “real.” The nutritional value of organic fruits and vegetables has been deemed superior, and this is even more obvious in organic grass-fed meat. The flavor difference is not even close: organic apples make conventional apples seem like plastic fruit. For more information on the benefits of eating organic, follow this link. That sums up RULE 1: EAT REAL ORGANIC FOOD.
Why is Real Food Crucial? aka How Fake Food Causes Inflammation
It is your body’s job to try to squeeze out every bit of nutrition it can from what you give it.
If you learn the right foods to put into your body, and you do so most of the time, you will feel good. If you give your body potato chips for lunch, it has very little chance of getting any real nutrients, so you’ll get all the calories, but none of the benefits of actually having quality energy to run your body.
Here’s the thing though, your body will still try really hard to get nutrients from those chips, and this is where it will start to break down. You know the phrase “trying to get blood from a stone?” that is kind of what you are asking your body to do when you feed it food that has no real nutritional value (like most of those sugar-free, fat-free 100 calorie packs and protein bars in your desk drawer). Your body will have to work very hard to get any nutrition at all, and most likely will get a little worn out in the process. And the result is inflammation.
Your digestive system bears a huge responsibility in your overall health. It not only affects obvious things, like constipation, energy, and heartburn, but can also be a big factor in mental health issues, sleep problems, any kind of pain, thyroid function and fertility just to name a few.
If you are not getting the right nutrition, your body will not work well. The areas hit the hardest will differ for each of you, and often hit the part of your body that already has some tendency towards weakness. If you are not putting the right foods in your body, you will end up with increasing levels of inflammation, which in turn cause or worsen all of the problems I mentioned above.
Making the Change. Aka: The Food Rules that Reduce Inflammation
Although changing your diet is not easy, the way I formulate treatment plans teaches you to look at food in a totally different way. Food becomes not just a tasty thing to put in your mouth, but a way to address and gain control over your health needs. You have choices. You do not have to sacrifice pleasure or flavor. You end up with control. And aren’t we all just looking for a little bit of control?
Here are a few more keys to babying your digestion:
Eat mostly cooked food.
Eat locally, seasonally, organically.
Eat according to your body, not the latest fad.
Your Functional Nutrition Treatment Plan
Everyone’s levels of inflammation are different, and everyone has different foods that increase their inflammation. There are no one-size-fits-all food plans here. Part of what I offer for patients in my Portland acupuncture and nutrition practice who want nutrition / diet support is to guide them through the process of deciphering which foods might be triggering their health issues and what they can do about it. I then help patients make the changes they need to, which is not always easy. I help come up with recipes and meal plans, and I offer programs to help make changes to your diet whether they be big overhauls or little tweaks. I know how difficult it is to change eating habits, so whether you come to my Portland office or if we meet via Skype or phone, you will not have to do it alone. You will, however, gain control over your nutrition, and your health and reduce your inflammation, and that is priceless. Make your appointment today for a free consult.