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Food and Inflammation

by | Apr 4, 2022 | Articles, Mindful Movement

Now I’m not a nutritionist (although I did study for a certificate in nutrition) but I am passionate about food and I do subscribe to the idea that ‘you are what you eat’.

Recent studies of our consuming behaviour show that for some of us it is entirely possible that we are spending up to 18 hours a day eating with only relatively short breaks in between each input. Is this the way we were designed to consume our nutrients? Probably not.

We are eating on the hoof, nibbling whilst driving, grabbing bites between clients and snacking whilst watching TV. Going to the cinema has turned into an ‘eatathon’ and during my recent trip, at a social distance of course, I could barely hear the film for rustling of packets.

Food and Inflammation

It is known that each time we eat the level of background inflammation in the body increases and although this is an entirely normal reaction. Is this something we want to happen with such regularity? Perhaps not.

This is happening even if the foods we are consuming are healthy whole foods; nuts, fruits, milky drinks, consuming them at such frequent intervals may not be having the desired effect. So what is happening if we are consuming trans fats, refined sugars and too much salt; in short processed foods, with such regularity?

Who benefits from the almost constant availability of food? Could it be those with a vested interest in our consumption? Food manufacturers and retailers? Even those selling weight management programmes are advocating regular snacking so we never have to feel hungry. However hunger pangs give us the natural drive to consume, and let me be clear, I am not advocating starvation, only that perhaps consuming our daily intake across 3 nutritious, balanced meals might be a way to reduce the background levels of inflammation in the body.

Feeling Hungry all the time?

The driver for us to feel hungry every couple of hours may actually be a result of a disruption in the signalling system, such as insulin resistance, potentially occurring as a result of the habits we have acquired or the types, (read processed) of foods we have been consuming.

So although the NHS website states “generally, it is wise to view “holistic” and “natural health” websites with scepticism — do not assume that the information they provide is correct or based on scientific facts or evidence”. I agree there is a lot of ‘snake oil’ out there but there is invariably a lag between the most current research becoming incorporated into recommended practice.

Food Friend or Foe?

There is some emerging evidence that different foods affect different people differently. This suggests that an individualised approach to nutrition is appropriate. But how do we know without sophisticated tests what kinds of foods might be triggers for us? Perhaps we can develop a deeper level of awareness. Foster a deeper connection between the brain in the stomach and the body, be more in tune with cause and effect. This is a skill available to all of us if only we take care to ‘listen’. Did I sleep well after that late night kebab? Did I bloat up after the bloomer bread sandwich lunch? It is entirely possible that if we develop our understanding of how our own bodies react to different foods, we can tailor our diet towards the foods which help us to feel better.

I have a ‘tell’ which is my big toe joint. I have a bit of Osteoarthritis there and I can guarantee that it aches if I overdo it with the foods that don’t ‘agree’ with me. So don’t take my word for it, tune in to your own body and think of food as medicine. Consider the foods you eat, when you eat them and make a note of any adverse effects you experience.

Food as Medicine

Think of food as medicine providing our bodies with the raw materials needed for a healthy body and mind. We will be more likely to sidestep the sweet aisle and opt for fresh, whole-foods to nourish and sustain us on a daily basis.

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