In contrast to 50 years ago, chronic illness is now the leading cause of death in the United States, and the modern American diet is the primary contributing factor to this. In most cases, this type of illness is lifestyle-related and therefore preventable. You can learn more about how the American diet is making you sick here.
What is the root cause of chronic illness?
Chronic illness is almost always the result of chronic gut inflammation. Chronic gut inflammation results from a variety of lifestyle factors, primarily diet, but is also directly related to stress and sleep deprivation. The bottom line is that if you’re not practicing good health habits, you’re likely experiencing some form of chronic gut inflammation!
How do you reduce chronic gut inflammation?
Modern medicine is finally recognizing the significance of the gut microbiome in human health. It’s perhaps the single most important element of your overall well being, and science is finally starting to connect the dots.
While there’s still a lot of unknowns about the gut microbiome, here’s what we do know:
· It’s a complex ecosystem that houses 80% (some argue more) of your immune system
· It crosses the blood-brain barrier, which means it affects long-term cognition and brain health
· Exposure to germs isn’t necessarily a bad thing
Protecting and fortifying your gut microbiome is the single most important thing you can do to reduce gut inflammation, and therefore prevent chronic illness and disease.
5 Ways to Reduce Gut Inflammation
1. Reduce or eliminate core inflammatory foods in your diet: gluten, dairy, sugar and industrialized fats.
Gluten: gluten is a protein found in some grains, primarily wheat, and is very difficult to digest. Gluten-containing grains loosen tight junctures in the gut lining and are a major culprit of leaky gut syndrome. You can learn more about gluten here.
Dairy: keep in mind that not all dairy is created equal! Dairy is a highly inflammatory food due to the use of hormones, antibiotics, and the pasteurization process.
Sugar: this refers to any added, refined sugars you will find in processed food products. Avoid white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, other sugar-based syrups, and chemical-based sugar alternatives like aspartame, Splenda, Equal and Sucralose at all costs. Natural sugars, such as fruit and honey, are much less harmful when consumed in moderation.
Industrialized fats: highly oxidized and industrialized vegetable and seed oils are exceedingly high in Omega 6 and lacking in Omega 3 fatty acids, triggering an extreme inflammation response in the body. Avoid canola oil, trans fats, corn oil and oil blends.
2. Consume more prebiotic fiber.
Prebiotic fiber feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut. Maintaining healthy gut flora reduces inflammation, prevents autoimmune disease, promotes good digestion and supports healthy immune function. Excellent sources of prebiotic foods are mentioned here.
3. Eat a variety of plant-based foods.
Variety is key – having a strong gut microbiome means having a diverse array of bacteria in your gut, which you will get from eating as much variety as possible in nutrient-dense plants. If you tend to eat the same vegetables every week, consider adding something new every time you go to the grocery.
4. Focus on stress management.
While stress is an inevitable (and often useful) part of life, excessive, chronic stress is extremely damaging to both your gut and overall health. It’s important to find healthy ways to manage your stress on a daily basis. Exercise is great for relieving short-term stress, but also consider relaxation techniques like breathwork and meditation to release built-up, long-term stress.
5. Get plenty of sleep and exercise.
Never underestimate the power of good sleep! It’s the single most important factor in ensuring your body functions properly. It’s also the time when autophagy, or cellular cleanup, happens, which is necessary for detoxification and reducing chronic inflammation in the body.
In addition to sleep, regular exercise is a great way to promote detoxification in the body! Exercise strengthens your metabolism, encourages cellular repair, and therefore reduces chronic gut inflammation.
Where should you start?
Start with food! In order to reduce dietary inflammation, it’s important to always read ingredient labels when buying packaged products! Once you’re able to reduce or eliminate the core inflammatory food groups, mentioned above, you’re guaranteed to feel better overall. You will likely notice increased energy, better digestion, and maybe even experience weight loss!
Once you’ve addressed the dietary component, begin to integrate stress management techniques, regular exercise and focus on getting more sleep.
When it comes to food, we’ve got you covered! Our mission is to serve you with whole-food based products using clean ingredients and nothing else. Try our Millet Tots and Cauliflower Wings, available in the freezer section of grocery stores nationwide! We also offer tons of nutritious, plant-based and kid-friendly recipes for your eating pleasure!