By Jenetta Haim, ATMS Member
Savvy health enthusiasts are becoming more and more aware that inflammation is the basis of many illnesses on a number of levels. When the body carries toxins, holds too much acid between the joints, which causes pain, or has an imbalanced PH with gut issues, chances are you will not be healthy no matter how much exercise you do, water you drink, or good food you seem to eat – now and then.
Being healthy is a choice which we make from the first time we pick up that take away burger to lying down in bed at night feeling bloated and guilty because we overdid the sugar today. Many of us already know from the health magazines, Google and numerous sources what we should and shouldn’t eat, but do listen? And when we don’t eat healthy, why do we make this choice? Is it because we have been trained to think that unhealthy foods are easy to access and more convenient, or simply because we are so overstressed and feel so rushed we put ourselves on the bottom of the list regarding self-care? Whatever the reasons we lose out, so do our kids and families.
The good news is that there are foods which we now call ‘superfoods’ that seem to do the trick in keeping us safe and keeping our inflammation levels down. Grandma might have called them vegetables because back in her day they ate purer foods in a world that was way less polluted. There were no genetically modified foods, less chemicals raining down on the veggie patch and sugar was a treat when you had been good all week and done your homework.
If you want to remain relatively healthy until a ripe old age then you must pay attention to your inflammation levels. Inflammation is the body responding to some kind of injury. It’s the body attempting to heal itself against viruses, bacteria and invaders of all kinds, but these days our bodies keep being bombarded by so much that is unhealthy that it just can’t cope, and one invasion builds on another making for a toxic body.
Other causes of inflammation can be food allergies or sensitivities which cause an imbalance of bacteria and fungi in the gastrointestinal tract, known as dysbiosis. The immune system overreacts to bacteria in the gut and there may not even be any symptoms that you notice. This is why I call inflammation a sneaky ‘illness’. It slides in there without you being aware of it and by the time you become aware, it can be too late because you are feeling ill.
Signs of inflammation can be a redness in an area of the body, heat, swelling such as a tumour, pain, excess weight around your stomach area, high glucose levels, digestive issues, skin issues, allergies, puffy eyes, gum issues and anxiety. However these symptoms can also be signs of a number of different illnesses also. One of the best ways is to test for sensitivities with a hair or saliva test. I have found over my years as a practitioner that these can be very reliable.
Once you know what foods you are sensitive to, you can work on eliminating them from your diet. Over my thirty odd years of practice I have found that there is a pattern of foods that repeatedly come up in these tests. When I get a new client I look at their levels of inflammation in unison with the symptoms they are telling me. I have repeatedly found that wheat/yeast, lactose and sugar increasingly tend to come up on most of these tests. Often I get the reply that grandad lived mostly on bread. What people don’t realise though is that there is no way we will ever have grandad’s bread mass produced in our stores. The food is different from its very inception as a seed through its growth, to its manufacturing and even the way it is packaged to you. So in these tests we are dealing with hundreds of pollutants that grandad never even dreamed existed. So, what is the answer to staying healthy in our seemingly toxic society?
Firstly we need to know what foods our particular body regards as a threat. Testing is a good way to do this because over the years I have found that the number of people with lower inflammation levels due to modifying their diet is huge. Add to this some of the ‘superfoods’ that will help you detox these ‘poisons’ out of your gut and you are soon on the way to having a better acid/alkaline balance, looking and feeling healthier.
Grandma would have told you that the bland looking celery is good for your fluid balance and if you couple that with some parsley in the salad you are doing your kidneys a big favour. Foods such as kale, beetroot, garlic and fennel were more a part of your salads back in the day when a hamburger was really just a salad served on home-made bread and not the processed stuff we are buying in our shops. If you are from a European background you would have been raised on onion, garlic and ginger with lots of pepper and your yoghurt would have been sourer like kefir, rather than the sweetened stuff in the supermarkets. Breakfast would have been perhaps some oats with blueberries and cranberry juice and dinner, a pile of veggies and you didn’t leave the table til the plate was empty.
So some of the foods we now call ‘superfoods’ are really things grandma would have taken from her garden and made you eat so you grow up big and strong. Of course add to that the fact that you were walking more and children played outside with a cricket bat rather than exercising their thumbs on an X-box and it’s easy to see why we have a society that needs these ‘superfoods’ to detox the inflammation of a sedentary, over indulgent lifestyle.
So when is it your turn to empty out the packaged foods from the cupboard, throw away the chocolate, take the kids cycling on the weekend, run with your dog, drink lots of filtered water and plant a veggie garden so you have a bit of control over the denatured foods some of our population is buying into? And unfortunately while you keep buying things will not change. We need to just stop buying into ill health and use our pay cheques to foster a healthier way of life. For ourselves, for our children, for the planet. Why not start right now.
Jenetta Haim (ATMS member number 10867) is a nutritionist and natural therapist specialising in many modalities. She runs Stressfree Management® at Gipps Road, Greystanes. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
Jenetta’s book ‘Stress-Free Health Management, A Natural Solution for Your Health’ written in simplistic chapters will give you further insight into how to get healthy and stay healthy. Check out her website on www.stressfreemanagement.com.au. Join her on Facebook at StressFreeManagement ®, on LinkedIn at Jenetta Haim or on Twitter at Destresssydney.