The Thanksgiving AFTERMATH
Before I started the boot camp session this morning I reflected on the counsel I gave to the boot camp on November 26th, the day before Thanksgiving. I spoke to the group of them about moderation and holiday eating. My goal was to share with them the importance of understanding how difficult this time of year is when you are trying to develop a healthy lifestyle and change your relationship with food. This holiday time is a slippery slope. You must keep it all in perspective. Its one day but that one day can cause you to backslide. So, before we broke a sweat I conducted a surprise weigh-in. Everyone had to step onto the scale before session so the truth about what happened on Thanksgiving Day would be revealed. After the moans and groans everyone was weighed and all of them had gained weight, with the exception of one person who lost a little over 1 pound. I won’t say who it is for fear that they might be ostracized, (LOL). Everyone else had a weight gain of 7 to 9 lbs. “OUCH”! That’s a lot of inflammation. What? Yes, inflammation.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation’s aim is to defend the body against bacteria, viruses, and other foreign invaders, to remove debris, and to help repair damaged tissue. Inside arteries, inflammation helps kick off atherosclerosis and keeps the process smoldering. It even influences the formation of artery-blocking clots, the ultimate cause of heart attacks and many strokes. (Harvard Health.edu)
What Causes Inflammation and What Are Its Effects?
When inflammation occurs, chemicals from the body’s white blood cells are released into the blood or affected tissues to protect your body from foreign substances. This release of chemicals increases the blood flow to the area of injury or infection, and may result in redness and warmth. Some of the chemicals cause a leak of fluid into the tissues, resulting in swelling.
What you eat can fuel or cool inflammation, a key driver of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.
Inflammation is an essential part of the body’s healing system. Without it, injuries would fester and simple infections could be deadly. Too much of a good thing, though, is downright dangerous. Chronic low-grade inflammation is intimately involved in all stages of atherosclerosis, the process that leads to cholesterol-clogged arteries. This means that inflammation sets the stage for heart attacks, most strokes, peripheral artery disease, and even vascular dementia, a common cause of memory loss. Inflammation doesn’t happen on its own. It is the body’s response to a host of modern irritations like smoking, lack of exercise, high-fat and high-calorie meals, and highly processed foods.
Medical researchers and pharmaceutical companies are hot on the trail of inflammation-busting drugs. Don’t bother waiting – they are a long way off, are bound to be expensive, and will almost certainly have fatal side effects. Instead, you can turn to simple tools that ease inflammation. We’ll focus on diet here, but don’t forget about avoiding cigarette smoke (yours or someone else’s), exercising, watching your weight, and taking care of your teeth.
This is only part of the reason they (the bootcampers) all experienced a spike in their weight. Another contributing factor is lack of activity. Many of them shared about their short time away and it involved long drives and sedentary activities. So basically they went from clean eating and exercising to sedentary activities and putting poison and toxins back into the body. Their bodies reacted. All the extra fluid released into the inflamed areas as well as toxins being stored in their fat cells. You are what you eat. Sugar, especially high fructose sugars are in everything processed. Here’s a short list to help you avoid some inflammatory foods:
Get an oil change. Swap saturated and trans fats for olive oil, which has potent anti-inflammatory properties, or polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fats from fish.
Don’t be so refined. The bolus of blood sugar that accompanies a meal or snack of highly refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, French fries, sugar-laden soda, etc.) increases levels of inflammatory messengers called cytokines. Eating whole-grain bread, brown rice, and other whole grains smooths out the after-meal rise in blood sugar and insulin, and dampens cytokine production. BUT these are NOT foods that aid in weight loss. These breads are full of refined sugars. The part of the plant used to make these breads are deprived of the whole psyllium husk which is the most nutritious part of the wheat plant. They are NOT on my meal plan. PLEASE NOTE THAT WHEAT BREAD IS NOT A WHOLE GRAIN BREAD. CHOOSE EZEKIEL BREAD.
Promote produce. The more fruits and vegetables you eat, the lower the burden of inflammation. Why? They contain hundreds, perhaps thousands, of substances that squelch inflammation-rousing free radicals; some act as direct anti-inflammatory agents.
Go nuts. Adding walnuts, peanuts, almonds, and other nuts and seeds to your snacks and meals is another tasty way to ease inflammation.
Cocoa lovers rejoice? In laboratory studies, cocoa and dark chocolate slow the production of signaling molecules involved in inflammation. The trick is to get them without too much sugar and fat. Use DARK CHOCOLATE instead, a serving, not the whole bar.
Alcohol in moderation. A drink a day seems to lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a powerful signal of inflammation. Too much alcohol has the opposite effect on CRP. If you must drink then RED WINE. This also is not on my meal plan so bootcampers don’t use this article as an excuse to consume things you know I counsel against using.
Spice it up. Herbs and spices such as turmeric, ginger, garlic, basil, pepper, and many others have anti-inflammatory properties.
Putting it all together
If you are a do-it-yourselfer, pick and choose foods that ease inflammation and eat them instead of those that promote it. If you adopt an anti-inflammatory diet, you probably won’t see or feel any different. Angina won’t suddenly disappear or heart failure reverse itself. But you will be doing your heart, arteries, and the rest of you a huge favor that will pay off in many ways. To sums it all up, eat living foods. Foods that give you nutrients instead of robbing the body of nutrients. Next week I’ll list more of the foods that rob the body of nutrients as well as good choices you can make.