The Underlying Cause of Most Illness and Disease
See the list of common symptoms below and take the short quiz at the bottom to see how many behaviors linked to chronic inflammation you have.
Research confirms that long-term, low-grade inflammation is the basis of chronic disease and obesity. Studies also demonstrate that many foods in the western diet contribute to our spiraling poor health. The logical question then is… if food causes inflammation, and inflammation causes disease, could our western foods be responsible for the chronic deteriorating health and obesity epidemic of industrialized cultures?
How Inflammation Causes Disease
Over the millennia, the immune system evolved to fight foreign invaders (pathogens) to neutralize them and heal any damage incurred in the process. In our modern world, the assault from what your body perceives as ‘foreign invaders’ has skyrocketed. We ingest vast amounts of man-made chemicals through diets high in sugar, starches and processed fats as well as ingesting drugs (prescription and over-the-counter), pesticides and stimulants. We bathe daily in toxic soup of air pollutants, heavy metals, PCBs. These contaminants stress our immune system. When your body is not functioning well, it communicates that via physical symptoms.
Acute Inflammation: Emergency Symptoms
We’re all familiar with acute inflammation: a bruise, cut, burn, sprain, pain/itchiness, heat, redness, swelling and loss of function (example: can't walk after severe ankle sprain). Acute inflammation is the body's initial response to harmful stimuli (a bee sting or torn tendon/ligament). It is a wise response - swelling constitutes a complete quarantine, a thick barricade of inflammatory tissue to prevent enemy toxins, bacteria or viruses from spreading further throughout the body. It’s a short-term process, usually appearing within a few minutes or hours and ceasing upon the removal of the injurious stimulus and/or the initiation of the repair process.
Most of us, however, aren't as familiar with the concept of chronic inflammation.
Chronic Inflammation: Mild Symptoms Accepted as 'Normal'
Any irritant we consume or absorb has the capacity to ignite little flames in the body that overwork the immune system and may go unnoticed for years, like burning embers. For most, the change creeps up slowly, the residue of a lifetime of poor nutrition or unhealthy lifestyle choices. When it comes to chronic disease, where there’s smoke, there’s fire - that's chronic inflammation.
The 'smoke', or warning signs of burning embers, consists of symptoms like chronic head and joint pain, acne, arthritis, anxiety attacks and of course, the single most common symptom of chronic inflammation: weight gain (especially belly fat). Unfortunately many have accepted these warning signs as the normal aging process!
Disease: Small Flames Accumulate
When the strain of faulty living habits, reliance on stimulation drugs, incorrect diet and poor environment have broken down the filters of the body, toxic inflammation naturally develops which results in what is commonly known as disease. Inflammatory imbalance is like a fire in a hearth that hasn’t been watched and is starting to burn down the house. It intensifies slowly beyond its original location and eventually fries all our major systems.
The basic cause of disease, therefore, is inflammation. The treatment of chronic inflammation is extremely simple: it is not dramatic, it doesn’t cure overnight. But CURE it will if a person cooperates with nature and corrects their diet. Read more about the the cause and solution to chronic inflammation.
How Do We Heal Chronic Inflammation?
Nature does the real healing, utilizing the natural defenses of the body. Under the proper conditions and given the opportunity, nature is always the greatest healer. Those proper conditions are achieved with nourishing, wholesome food. Changing your nutrition and lifestyle will not only restore health and vigor, but reverse aging. Read more about how dietary changes can dramatically improve health.
Our western medicine culture embeds the incorrect assumption that all diseases are uniquely different and would conceivably require independent, specific drug interventions. This view of disease is not true. That's equating a band-aid to a cure. A medication simply masks symptoms but does not cure disease; if anything, the additional toxic load from the drugs simply magnifies the diseased state.
So, if chronic inflammation is the underlying promoter of chronic disease, then shouldn't the focus be on reducing inflammation rather than looking for the magic bullet medication? That’s the basis of The Paleovation Workbook – to get you started on the path to health by removing inflammatory foods from your diet. By healing your inflammation now, you’re helping to ensure that you age with vitality and strength.
Symptoms of Chronic Inflammation
- Chronic aches and pains – sore muscles, achy joints, back or neck pain, headaches
- Mood swings, irritability, anxiety/depression
- Difficulty losing weight
- Low or erratic energy levels, such as a usual afternoon slump
- Difficulty recovering from physical activity
- Seasonal allergies, phlegm build up, itchy/waxy ears
- Bloating, diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome
- Aged appearance
- Diminished range of motion
- Brittle nails or cracking skin
- Regular need for anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or other over-the-counter or prescriptions drugs
- Difficulty remembering or concentrating
- Cravings for sweet foods or grain-based foods
- Difficulty healing from injury or overuse
- Weight-gain around the waist
- Low immune system, often fighting a cold
- Suffering from one or more of the '-itis' conditions: arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, gingivitis ulcerative colitis, sinusitis, plantar fasciitis, diverticulitis, etc
- Suffering from one or more of the following conditions: asthma, acne, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, digestive disorders, hypertension, osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, pre-diabetes/diabetes, Parkinson’s, MS, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, scleroderma, or any other autoimmune disorder
How many of these inflammatory behaviors are active in your life at this moment?
The goal is to have as few as possible.
- I consume grain products (even whole-grain) breads, pastas, cereal, tortillas, crackers, chips, rice, etc
- I regularly eat sugary items like desserts, sweetened yogurt, jam, dried fruit, etc
- I drink sweetened beverages such as juice, soda, diet soda, sports drinks, sweet tea, blended coffee drinks, hot chocolate, protein shakes, sweetened coffee creamers, sweetened water beverages, etc
- I rely on convenience foods such as fast food, frozen dinners or pre-packaged items
- I consume processed gluten-free products such as gluten-free pasta, breads, cookies, crackers, chips, etc
- Agave nectar is my sweetener of choice
- I eat or use highly processed oils (vegetable, canola, sunflower, safflower, soybean, or corn oils)
- I eat hydrogenated oils like margarine, Cool Whip™, Crisco™, or deep-fried foods in a restaurant
- I follow a low-fat or low-cholesterol diet
- I regularly consume dairy products including milk (even low fat), yogurt, chees, sour cream, whey protein, etc
- I consume products made with soy or its derivatives (tofu, soy burgers, soy protein, soy sauce)
- I consume products made from corn or its derivatives (corn chips, corn starch, grits, corn syrup)
- I eat less than 6 vegetable servings per day
- My animal proteins come from animals raised in factory farms (eggs, meats, dairy, seafood, bouillon)
- I consistently sleep less than 8 full hours per night
- I regularly take over-the-counter or prescription drugs such as statins, stimulants, sedatives, hormones (birth control, testosterone, prednisone), etc
- I have elevated stress levels
- I do not read labels
- I do not concern myself with food additives such as MSG, food colorings, preservatives, etc
- I do not exercise regularly
- I am a smoker
- I don't know much about anti-inflammatory omega-3 oils, vitamin D or turmeric