I think I was about ten years old the first time I walked through the model of the human heart at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, and started to understand how things inside the body fit together – my next science fair project was an explanation of the circulatory system. My mom (a nurse and a writer) was all about learning games, and picked birthday gifts for me like a microscrope, a “Visible Woman” (see through skin, with all the internal organs removable), and a chemistry set.
So, I started learning a little about the basics of human physiology and chemistry, but I didn’t really understand how much the two fit together until later. When I was a child, parents and grandparents smoked in front of their children, and we didn’t question regular drinks at business or social lunches. It was common to cook with butter or lard, and to add ample processed sugar or salt to just about everything. Nobody thought about the impact of food coloring and other additives. Our parents rarely read food labels – they were very trusting.
That all changed in the sixties with the “whole earth” movement. Suddenly, we were barraged with information on additives, smoking, and a variety of other things impacting physiology – air pollution, pesticides, chemicals in our water supplies. All a little scary, and initially brushed off by some as wing-nut theory without validation. But by the time we had our kids in the seventies, we were much more aware of what we fed our children.
Not that we got everything right, but we had a heightened awareness and tried to stay away from carbonated beverages, red food dye, and other obvious “junk foods.” We used fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, and discouraged sweets. We cooked from scratch whenever we could. Like our parents, we encouraged our kids to exercise.
Over time, we’ve learned more and more. In my reading on diet and aging, I’ve come across a recurring theme – inflammatory, degenerative diseases like diabetes, arthritis, asthma, and heart disease are an increasing issue (not just for the aging), especially in developed nations – and diet is a huge factor. Basically, we’re just little chemical factories, and we depend on the highest quality ingredients and regular maintenance to keep everything in balance and working.
Homeostatis occurs when there is chemical, electrical, pH, and general balance in a body’s ecological system. Merriam-Webster describes it as “a relatively stable state of equilibrium… between the different but interdependent elements or groups of elements of an organism…” Bottom line, it’s a gift, and we seem to have a talent for messing it up.
At any age, but definitely for those of us who are aging, have lapsed, and need serious renovation, improved diet and exercise are still the best medicine. With exercise, everyone can find a way to start small – like walking regularly. With diet, I’ve become increasingly convinced that an anti-inflammatory diet is the way to go. This approach has been gaining traction in the medical community, and naturopaths have long embraced it.
I stumbled across my first Inflammation book in our local natural foods store, and was amazed at the way it tracked with my health, and my husband’s. So, I started a search on Amazon.com to learn more. There are more than a dozen books on the topic (including a “Complete Idiot’s Guide” and one “for Dummies”). All include medical background, and many include recipes and meal plans. They all advocate a more natural diet.
Some keys are natural/organic foods, good fats (Omega-3’s), exercise and sleep, and starting with an elimination diet. The diet involves limited foods to start, then gradually adding others to see if they cause symptoms. Some common culprits are dairy (lactose and whey), sugars, wheat gluten, and alcohol.
As a start on my retirement improved health plan, my beloved and I have been having fun shopping and cooking together. We especially love building salads, using diced avocados & tomatoes as our “dressing” base.
Soups are next.
If you want to learn more, check out the books at the Amazon link above, or review some of the related articles listed below. It’s never too early or too late to start eliminating inflammation from your system!
- Is Your Body Burning Up With Hidden Inflammation? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Open Your Eyes to Inflammation (and take back control) (thebalancedsoul.wordpress.com)
- Anti-Inflammatory Living (nourishingresults.com)
- The Anti-Inflammatory Diet- It’s Not Really a “Diet” (lifemindvitamin.com)