Do you know that inflammation is what is responsible for aging your body? The conditions that we commonly attribute to “just getting old” such as: digestive conditions, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, hypertension, diabetes, and etc. are greatly affected by every single food choice that we make. Every bite we take is either inflaming, or deflaming to our bodies. We all suffer from inflammation issues to varying degrees. But the more I learn about food it becomes clearer and clearer to me that I have to make a choice about how much pain and suffering I am willing to live with every single day as I make my food choices. The fact is that most inflammatory diseases develop slowly and without symptoms…until it is far too late. Fruit and vegetable consumption makes up a mere 8% of overall calorie intake in the average American diet, while processed food consumption is at an all-time high (NFVA 2010). Americans consume 31% more processed foods than whole foods. Money spent on processed food has doubled since 1982, and the consequences have been obvious: Adult obesity rates have also doubled, and childhood obesity rates have tripled (Vo 2012; CDC 2011). The correlation between processed food and obesity was illustrated in a 2009 study that measured weight gain in relation to various levels of processed food purchases. Processed food is also strongly correlated with disease risk. A recent study found that 62% of a typical North American diet consists of processed foods. When analyzed, such a diet exceeds the recommended upper limits for calories, fat, saturated fat, added sugar and sodium, and fails to meet fiber recommendations. All these dietary characteristics increase the risk of chronic diseases (such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and stroke) and premature death (Moubarac et al. 2012). An article in the November 2012 issue of the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology says “excess energy intake, saturated fat, sugar and salt derived from processed foods are a major cause of [the] disease burden” (Dunford 2012). Let us not leave out the fact that the signs of aging-including wrinkling, crepey skin, sagging jawline and jowls, drooping eyelids, under-eye bags and puffiness-are all the results of inflammation. Dr. Nicholas Perricone says “ proinflammatory diets, exposure to sunlight, environmental pollutants, and a host of other agents assault our cells and cause them to generate inflammatory chemicals. This subclinical inflammation goes on day after day, year in and year out, leading to numerous forms of disease, including the disease of aging. Yes, aging is a disease- a chronic, uniformly progressive, inflammatory disease that is always fatal. All the devastating cell damage is triggered by just one thing-inflammation. Just as your choices can keep you young and rejuvenate your physical and mental states to a degree you never dreamed possible, so too can your choices accelerate the aging process. You can be healthy and active well into your eighties. You can start a new career at seventy. You can take up new hobbies late in life. Your cognitive function can be at its peak when you are sixty-five or seventy” (The Perricone Prescription 2002). Based on all the information given, might you consider that eating good clean food: lean protein and lots more veggies and fruits as a preferrable lifestyle? What thoughts come to mind when you think of eating clean? Does it sound bland or boring, or maybe even daunting at first? A good start is to take pride in what you put into your body and cook whole-food meals. Remember, homemade meals don’t need to be elaborate or labor intensive; they just need to be whole. Reducing your consumption of processed food can be challenging. Healthy eating habits can take years to develop. Small changes toward a whole-food diet are important and can lead to large gains in health. If you can maintain this mindset, you will be more likely to stick with the challenge and less inclined to abandon your focus on whole foods at the first sign of failure. Dr. David Black is who first brought my attention to the inflammatory properties of my diet years ago. I am thankful that his passion to see everyone in his community on a road to better health is available to us all! I can personally testify to the fact that a truly healthy lifestyle does indeed develop over time. You just need to get started! Every good decision you make is progress. The removal of offending foods from the diet can deliver a number of health benefits: weight loss, better energy, improvements in sleep, clear complexion, and much more. People who keep food journals are more likely to reach their dietary goals (Yon et al. 2007). Scientific literature has established that keeping track of what you eat and drink is an effective tactic for making dietary changes. Please join me on www.myfitnesspal.com enter your own food journal. Together, we can form our own community by connecting on the site. Social support improves adherence. In addition to starting a food journal, I am currently surveying the interest level among my clients to make a unified commitment to The Virgin Diet by JJ Virgin, CNS, CHFS. In a nutshell: we will eliminate 7 foods from our diet for a 3 week period.
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