For me, the term "inflammation" has always brought to mind the pain, swelling and disabling of one of my arms or shoulders, due to what I thought was tendinitis or bursitis. I have a 25-year history of flareups that came out of nowhere, and against which I had no defense.
These flareups would be unbearable for the first week, rendering me unable to get dressed, perform the simplest of tasks, or even sleep. Over the next month I'd gradually regain use of the limb, and eventually all that remained was a certain rickety status quo which left me cautious about any strenuous activity.
But I've been learning that inflammation that seems to be unrelated to the digestive system, may start there.
Inflammation is a reaction to infection, injury or irritation. It can show up as pain, redness, swelling and inability to function.
Some foods can trigger an inflammatory response. As we eat these foods the inflammatory response wages on. We get acid reflux, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, heart burn and gut pain. These are indications of an inflamed digestive system.
The immune system is generally a good and helpful protector. But when it's in overdrive for too long, things can get unhealthy.
The average diet can give the immune system a drubbing. We can experience chronic health problems to which we unwittingly contribute every time we open our mouths.
The list includes joint and muscle pain, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, heart disease, insulin resistance, obesity and stroke.
It's depressing to think we may be bringing damage upon ourselves. But it's also encouraging to know that we may be able to reduce and possibly eliminate these problems.
Inflammatory foods include highly processed foods and sugar, transfats and an overabundance of omega-6 oils like corn, peanut, safflower, sunflower, and soy oils. Some are sensitive to gluten or dairy products. Nightshades like potatoes and tomatoes can cause inflammation for some.
Anti-inflammatory foods include good protein sources, and unprocessed whole foods.