It happens without warning. Foods eaten over an entire lifetime or praised for their nutritional benefits can suddenly trigger an acute inflammatory response. Typically, abdominal discomfort and digestive issues occur and the finger gets pointed at the usual suspects: dairy, gluten, and/or soy. Is jumping on the dairy/gluten/soy-free bandwagon the right answer? Not necessarily.
Understanding inflammation and how to minimize it reduces not only food sensitivities, but modern day disease and seasonal allergies as well. Inflammation is natural; it is the body’s innate mechanism to protect itself. An infected tooth, an ingrown toenail or a soft tissue injury can all result in inflammation. These examples of inflammation are generally unavoidable, but inflammation caused by foods CAN be avoidable. Yet, for some reason, our generation accepts a mild but chronic level of discomfort as normal – not realizing the negative effects that inflammation has on the body.
Millions of us are oblivious to the daily dose of inflammatory boosters hidden in almost every commercial food. Polyunsaturated fats such as sunflower, soy bean, canola (some), cottonseed (CRISCO) and corn oil contain Omega 6 fatty acids that naturally supercharge the body for inflammation. What does supercharge mean? That blood clotting platelets start sticking together even if the body isn’t bleeding to death, that blood vessels begin to constrict to prevent a bacteria from invading the body even if there isn’t one on site, that the immune system goes into overdrive even if there has been no invasion of a bug, and that the body begins to ache so it will stop doing what caused the inflammation in the first place. All of these responses increase a person’s risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and arthritis.
Being in a constant state of inflammation may also be the reason we react to seasonal triggers like pollen and mold. Inflammation begins in the intestine where 70-80% of the immunity cells exist to initiate the process. Those cells begin the inflammatory process for the whole body. This can lead to abdominal discomfort and digestive issues that mimic food sensitivities as well as nasal and chest congestion that mimic seasonal allergies. Though Omega 3 fatty acids counter the effects of Omega 6 fatty acids, overdosing on both is not the answer. Avoid products that contain the polyunsaturated vegetable oils that start with the 3 C’s and the 2 S’s listed earlier. Make your own meals, snacks, and desserts and don’t shy away from real foods like eggs, butter, bacon, cream and cheese. Real foods use real fat, the healthy kind. Prepared foods that even boast nutritional benefits often use the bad fats as preservatives. There is no need to point the finger at dairy, gluten and soy. It could be just generalized inflammation affecting your stomach, sinuses and chest. Get that inflammation down and your system working properly. It’s your first line of defense against heart disease and preventing sensitivities to foods and allergens like pollen.