What is Inflammation?
For most of us, inflammation is commonly associated with joint pain and swelling after an injury (acute inflammation). But did you know joint inflammation is only one small part of how our body experiences inflammation. Some inflammation cannot be observed, felt, or seen but is a big part of chronic diseases and aging.
Chronic inflammation is a low-grade stress on the body and can lead to diseases such as diabetes, cancers, and heart disease. Causes of chronic inflammation is anything the body finds harmful including toxins, foods, environmental triggers, bacteria, and viruses. Key contributions for chronic inflammation are obesity, alcohol, smoking, and chronic stress.
Chronic Inflammation and the Foods we Eat
The Western Patterned Diet (WPD), also known as the standard American diet, is one of the most studied diets for health risks and chronic diseases. When compared to healthier diets such as the Mediterranean diet, the WPD caused an increase in weight gain, higher cholesterol, and an increased risk of heart disease. The WPD includes high intakes of:
Recent studies concluded WPD not only increases the risk of obesity and chronic disease, but it also alters genetic expressions in the body which trigger inflammatory responses that can cause chronic diseases. Put simply, genetic expression is the reaction our genes make in response to triggers. These reactions tell our cells how they should function. Other studies identified behavior changes of subjects given the WPD including increased anxiety and social isolation.
Why This is Important for You
In comparison to the Mediterranean diet (and other ancestral diets), the WPD is harming our communities and continuing the trend of generational health problems, and these health problems are being passed on to our children.
Your health is important to us, and our goal in to share data and research that can benefit you and your loved ones and might spark an interest in changing to healthier lifestyle habits. The smallest of changes can make a big improvement on how you feel. With the recent pandemic, I hope it’s safe to say more people are aware of the importance of eating better to help reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Less inflammation in the body can improve how your immune system responds to viruses, bacteria, and other diseases. It can also improve how your body feels after a day of hard work.
What Is The Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is one of the most studied cultural and regional diets as well as the most popular among doctors. It was founded in the 1960s and consists of natural foods from Greece, Italy, and Spain. The popularity of this diet stems from health and nutritional research on locals from the Mediterranean region. The diet consists of lots of vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats from nuts and oils. This diet has proven to reduce inflammation, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and reduce the risk of diabetes. It is important to note, this diet encourages eating whole food and discourages excess saturated fats from butter, red meat, and processed meats. It is highly recommended to steer clear from highly processed or packaged foods or fried foods.
Healthy Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Choices
While the Mediterranean diet is considered a healthier lifestyle, it is important for to examine foods your ancestors ate. Your gut biome is genetically set up to process these foods and they can help reduce inflammation in your body.
Ancestral Hawaiian/ Pacific Islander Diet:
What you can do Today to Reduce Inflammation
Change is easier said than done, and I never encourage anyone to do a complete overhaul. This just leads to failure later. When working with clients, we start with one, small, simple action that can create change, and test it for two weeks. One small and simple action will lead to more small and simple actions, and so on. These stacked on small actions become lifelong habits. For today, think of one thing you want to change. Write it out. Then consider some small actions needed to reach your goal. Practice one of them for two weeks, and then add another small action (don’t forget to keep doing the first small action). If you need help figuring this out, reach out to us and we can walk you through the process.