inflammation

Ketogenic Living – Beyond the sugar

Inflammation is most often associated with healing and some type of wound. In the basic form, inflammation is a good thing, it is the body’s first line of defense against toxins, infections and injuries.  It is a mechanism that allows our body to respond to injury and heal itself.

When your cells are in distress, they release chemicals to alert the immune system. The immune system then sends inflammatory cells to heal the tissue. This is whats happening behind the scenes when you cut or injure yourself, the swelling and redness that you see at the site of the injury are signs that your body is working to heal itself. These symptoms might be uncomfortable, but they are essential for the healing process.

This kind of inflammation is good and the kind that we all need in certain situations.

While a little bit of inflammation in your body is a good thing,the table turns the other way when you have too much in your body.  With chronic or constant inflammation, your body feels like it is on high alert all the time, for a very good reason..

We get into trouble when our bodies have chronic inflammation, or repeated inflammation at the same site in the absence of a wound. Chronic inflammation is problematic because it causes an immune reaction, even when there is no injury.  It is chronic because if it is not diagnosed and reduced, the inflammation will persist in your body. This prolonged state of emergency can cause lasting damage to your heart, brain and other organs. Over time this can slowly begin to erode or destroy the tissues in that area, potentially damaging arteries, organs, and contributing to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease.

For example, when inflammatory cells hang around too long in blood vessels, they promote the buildup of dangerous plaque. The body sees this plaque as a foreign/enemy body and mounts a (immune) defense to attempt to heal itself. It sends more inflammatory cells, which in turn causes more plaque….which cause another immune response, and on, and on….

As the plaque continues to build in the blood vessel, the arteries can thicken, health diminishes…creating the possibility or even probability of heart attack or stroke. This is only one explanation of how inflammation has a negative effect on  our body. Chronic inflammation may lead to a host of issues, including asthma, hay fever, vasculitis, gout, atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and even cancer.

Symptoms & Causes of Chronic Inflammation

We are still learning about inflammation, but what we do know so far is that chronic inflammation  can be caused by several factors including:

-improperly healed infections
-abnormal immune reactions
-obesity

Autoimmune disease such as Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis and MS can also trigger inflammation. It can also be caused by other conditions that continually wear on your body, like inflammatory bowel disease.

Some of the symptoms of chronic inflammation are obesity, fatigue, indigestion, acne, allergies, and persistent aches and pains. If you have any or most of these symptoms, a visit to your doctor to discuss chronic inflammation should be in order.

What can I do?

Researchers are learning more about the missing links between inflammation and disease every day. But until we have more answers, your best defense against inflammation is to control the factors that you can change. You can help  by focusing on the lifestyle choices that have been shown to reduce your risk of chronic inflammation. Some of the lifestyle factors that have been shown to play a part in inflammation are smoking, chronic stress drinking alcohol excessively and in particular, obesity. In the case of obesity, studies have shown that having excess abdominal fat is one of the greatest contributors to chronic low-level inflammation.

The Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Keto Foods

To pinpoint the origin of ketogenic living,  you would have to go back to the 1800’s and the time of William Banting, an English undertaker who upon examining many deceased individuals realized the Brits were incredible unhealthy and their diets were rich and overindulgent in carbohydrates. He released a publication entitled Letter of Corpulance detailing the low carb, high fat diet that would bear his name, the Banting diet

The modern day ketogenic diet  as we know it had its start  in the ‘20’s, where it started out as a tool to reduce symptoms in epileptic children. It has been used over the years to help stabilize blood sugars and improve overall health in many medical conditions. Current day research is revealing benefits that would apply to the general population as well as those experiencing difficulties with metabolic disease.

There is promising research happening right now studying the positive effects of the ketogenic diet on Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, T1 and T2 Diabetes, Autism, Cancer, and Mental Illnesses. The research on the anti-inflammatory effects of a keto diet are becoming especially compelling, because the keto diet can be anti-inflammatory due to the foods that it eliminates, as well as those foods it includes.

As processed sugar is a known major contributor to inflammation, it is high on the list of foods to avoid, but it is one of many. The first thing that gets eliminated on a keto diet are carbohydrates (sugars) with a high glycemic index. However the high fiber carbohydrates like leafy greens, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts which are moderately included in a ketogenic diet are believed to be anti-inflammatory. The keto diet also emphasizes eating healthy fats and oils, which include anti inflammatory olive, avocado, coconut oils and omega 3’s and steering clear of inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids and inflammatory vegetable oils.

Other Ways to Reduce Chronic Inflammation

The ketogenic diet can have some significant benefits in helping reduce inflammation, but it is only a part of what you can do to help. Here are some other ways to reduce chronic inflammation.

  • Get more exercise
  • Consume more omega-3 fatty acids, while reducing omega-6
  • Eat antioxidant rich foods
  • Reduce nightshade vegetables (such as tomatoes and peppers)
  • Reduce stress
  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Stop smoking, if you do

Many of you reading this are already on a ketogenic diet and some possibly assume that Keto is only about dropping the sugar. As you can see from the list of common foods to avoid, its about more than that. Yes, it’s about controlling your glucose and insulin responses, but it’s also about clean eating and getting chemicals out of our bodies, eating foods that reduce inflammation, and to decrease fluctuations in hormones. Keto is a pathway to optimal health.

One of the single best piece of keto advice I’ve heard since being on the ketogenic way of eating, is to try and choose foods that don’t have a list of ingredients. Instead, choose real foods, like vegetables and fresh meat and fish. Choose foods just like the ones your grandparents would have eaten. Turns out, Grandpa really did know best.

That’s it for this time! Thanks for joining me for another East Coast Keto Life Lesson.  There’s still a lot to learn and we’re glad you’re along for the ride!

Keep Keto-ing with one foot in front of the other. Keto seconds lead to keto moments, Keto moments lead to keto days. Keto days will take you on a successful keto journey life time. We’ll meet you THERE!!

Before and After

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