Chances are that if your back (or any other body part) hurts, you’ve got some inflammation happening.
When working well, inflammation is a wonderful, natural process that helps your body to heal injuries.
If inflammation sticks around for too long or when your inflammatory system becomes overloaded, then you’re dealing with chronic inflammation. For more on this, check out last week’s article How Do You Know If You're Inflamed?
You may find yourself in a bit of a Catch-22: When you’re hurt, you tend to stop moving.
When you stop moving, you’re not contracting your muscles.
Without movement and muscle contractions, you’re handicapping your lymphatic system’s ability to move that inflammation out.
Without movement, inflammation can settle in and stagnate.
One of the red flags with inflammation is that when it becomes chronic it can start to negatively impact the long-term health of your joints and organs.
WHY INFLAMMATION IS BAD FOR YOUR BACK
“Chronic inflammation in the joints can damage cartilage, bones, tendons (which attach muscle to bones), or ligaments (which hold joints together); irritate nerves; and produce a long list of symptoms, including pain, swelling, and stiffness. The joint damage may be progressive and irreversible.” Harvard Health
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO REDUCE INFLAMMATION?
Although the inflammatory process is a natural part of healing, there are lots of diet and lifestyle factors that can hinder or help your body's ability to heal...
We all respond differently to different foods. Can you name a few foods that don’t agree with you?
Those are the foods you want to look at first!
If a food creates any type of adverse reaction - then yes, it’s also causing inflammation
Common inflammatory foods are: Sugar, gluten, dairy, grains, beans, soy, eggs, nuts and seeds, nightshades, nitrates used in processed meats
This does not mean that you should remove all of the above foods from your diet. It's a list of those foods most frequently correlated to exacerbating inflammation in the body.
LET'S PICK ON SUGAR
I'm going to pick on sugar because it's an easy target: It's has no redeeming nutritive value, it's a proven inflammatory agent and most Americans eat way too much of it (myself included!)
Sugar. Azúcar. Zucchero. Suiker. Zucker.
Table sugar, brown sugar, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, glucose, sweets, starches.
Whatever you call it and in whichever language, sugar is sugar.
HOW DOES SUGAR CAUSE MORE PAIN?
The Sugar Cycle looks something like this: You eat sugar and starch (which are the main calories in our modern diet), then you crave more sugar and starch, then you need more and more insulin to overcome the resistance to its effect.
More insulin = more fat storage = more inflammation = more pain
Okay, I've grossly oversimplified the process, because I don't want to get all science-nerdy and go off on a tangent about glycation in email but suffice it to say, sugar ain't helping nothing for nobody.
SIMPLE RULES FOR REDUCING INFLAMMATION
Eat more plants - whole plant foods have the anti-inflammatory nutrients that your body needs
Focus on antioxidants - they help prevent, delay or repair some types of cell and tissue damage
Get your Omega-3s
Eat less red meat
Cut the processed stuff
No more sugar or alcohol
Drink more water
Exercise, but don’t overdo it
Sleep 7-9 hours per night
These are all things that you start to do for yourself that will alleviate your inflammatory load and help you to be as active and healthy as you aim to be!
Thanks again for reading!!