Weight Loss Wednesday: Functional Nutrition and Inflammation
What do stress, exposure to pollutants, an upset stomach, a migraine and arthritis have in common? The answer is inflammation. Specific or generalized inflammation is a common component of all of our bodies’ reaction to all of these conditions. In fact, almost all chronic diseases include some degree of inflammation. This inflammation can in turn be exacerbated by things like stress, lack of proper hydration and exposure to environmental pollutants such as heavy metals and smog.
Functional nutrition is the idea that proper nutrition and lifestyle habits can play a role in the improvement of many of the body’s functions and even treat chronic disease. Think of it as food-based medicine. While individualized functional nutrition plans are the result of complex analysis and often involve blood tests, food diaries and food sensitivity testing, there are many principles of functional nutrition that you can apply in your everyday life to increase the efficiency of your body’s functions. Here are a few tips that you can use to calm inflammation and take a whole body, functional nutrition approach to your food.
1. Eat your colors. Vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables contain compounds that act as anti-oxidants, which can lower inflammation and therefore alleviate stress on a cellular level. Good choices include red bell peppers, blueberries, leafy greens such as kale, carrots and beets.
2. Hydrate. Water is not only necessary for optimal cell function, but is also one of the main ways in which your body flushes toxins from the body. No water, no flush, and harmful chemicals can build up, causing inflammation and making you feel worse.
3. Wash your fruits and veggies. Most of the produce that you buy in the grocery store is grown with the use of some kind of pesticide. Many of them can be harmful to humans if ingested and may cause medium to severe allergic reactions. The most severe of these involve a condition called anaphylaxis- and can include inflammation of the throat that is so severe that it can make it impossible for you to breathe.
4. Approach with caution. Foods such as gluten, dairy, eggs and refined sugars and oils can cause inflammatory reactions within your digestive tract, even if you are not found to have a clinical allergy to them. By approaching these foods with caution, and enjoying them in moderation, you are lessening the chances of provoking an inflammatory reaction.
Sense a theme here? You should. By following a diet rich in nutrient dense foods and consuming adequate water for your needs, you promote optimal wellness, cell function and detoxification, right along with quenching inflammation. So don't be afraid to get functional!