Inflammation is a hidden killer. When we get inflammation on the outside, it is easy to see how it harms us. Think of an infected cut. There is a flush of blood and fluids to the area that makes it swell up. The excess of blood heats up the area, making it glow and feel warm to the touch. And the large number of white blood cells and bacterial cells being killed in the middle of the battle for our bodies results in the production of pus. This same process happens inside our bodies regularly, especially when we are ill, or eat something bad.
But inflammation is not actually out to get us. The fact of the matter is that inflammation is a healthy, natural response to injury, illness, or invasion. That extra fluid will flush the area. The extra blood carries white blood cells that attack invasive cells. The red blood cells carry nutrients to feed our damaged bodies. Platelets block up any open wounds. And the heat helps kill of bacteria. Inflammation is an amazing healer. When inflammation is a short-lived, stressful burst of symptoms, it is doing a very important task. And without it we would surely be ill more often and for longer periods of time.
However, when inflammation doesn’t go down, we have a problem. Either we are suffering repeat infections, which are constantly wearing us down, or we are not recovering from inflammation even after the original cause is gone. Both are considered chronic inflammation, and chronic inflammation is terrible for us. Inflammation is meant to be a single, stressful spike, to help the body defeat an enemy and recover. When this stress is dragged out, our entire body suffers.
When we eat a high carb diet, we encourage inflammation. First of all because we store glucose when we eat too many carbs. For every gram of glucose that we store, we store three of fluid. This fluid builds up, making our bodies heavy and sluggish. When we eat too many carbs we are also eating many irritating foods. High carb foods have inflammation causing elements to them, such as fructose, gluten, or lectins. If we eat a little of these elements we will not suffer. But if we eat too many our gut flora are disrupted and we will suffer inflammation.
When we eat enough fats, we reduce and limit the effects of a high carb diet. Firstly, because, quite simply, we are eating fewer carbs, and therefore fewer inflammation causing elements. Secondly, because the more carbs we eat, the more we crave them. This is down to insulin cycles. When we eat too many carbs our blood sugar rises, so our insulin rises and moves the sugars to muscle and fat tissue, which crashes our blood sugar, which makes us hungry again. When we run on fats our appetites will be much more even and we will overeat less.
Dietary fats also fight inflammation on their own. Healthy fats have antioxidant and vitamin-driving properties. Omega oils, especially omega 3, which is lacking in the modern diet, are some of the best antioxidants available. Dietary cholesterol has been found to reduce overall cholesterol, but increase good cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol also helps create hormones, establishing hormonal balance. Many different fats also carry oil-soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin E and Vitamin D. All vitamins are essential to maintaining a strong immune system. When we have enough vitamins, we fight off infections fast, and don’t need as much inflammation. So all round, dietary fats will reduce your risk of inflammation.
By focusing on fats and fiber, we reduce our intake of inflammatory foods. For many of us, white breads, dairy, and syrups are regular parts of our diets. Not to mention artificial flavorings and colors. All of these foods can be allergenic, and if we eat too much of them most of them will cause irritation. When our diet is low carb, high fat, we reduce the influence these foods have on us. Instead, we swap them for moderate portions of fish, nonsweet fruit, leafy greens, and low carb roots, all of which are richer in nutrients and fiber that have anti-inflammatory properties.