Inflammation is at the root of nearly every modern, chronic illness. Cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, autoimmune disease, and even cancer can all be connected with the body’s inability to keep up with the bombardment of inflammation we experience on a day-to-day basis. It’s the catch-22 of living in an industrialized world. We are surrounded by plastics, air and water pollution, synthetic chemicals in our health and beauty products, and processed junk being sold as food.
Research shows that as developing countries which were once nearly free of so-called “Western” diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, start to adopt the unhealthy lifestyles of industrialized nations, obesity and non-communicable disease rates skyrocket. This goes to show the enormous role environmental factors play in today’s disease epidemic.
The good news is that you decide what you eat, drink, and put in and on your body. I find it incredibly empowering to know we have so much control over our health. You can minimize your exposure to the top sources of inflammation when you know what they are and where they come from. Then you can tweak your diet and lifestyle to reduce inflammation levels and start on the path to optimal health. Let’s take a look at some of the top sources of inflammation to help you identify the root cause of your symptoms and prevent or reverse chronic illness.
A poor diet accounts for 1 in 5 deaths worldwide. It surpassed smoking as the number one cause of death and disability in the U.S. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is full of inflammatory foods such as gluten and dairy, fried foods, corn, soy, sugar, and highly processed junk. These foods wreak havoc on your gut and set you on the path to autoimmune disease and chronic illness. Gluten is linked to over 55 diseases, making it the worst offender by far, followed closely by dairy products. Other inflammatory trigger foods include grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Eating an anti-inflammatory diet that includes plenty of leafy greens, healthy fats, and clean-sourced protein is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of chronic illness. A daily smoothie made with my Organic Greens powder is a surefire way to maximize your intake of vitamins and minerals and support your body’s inflammatory response. The easily dissolved powder is rich in the superfoods and phytonutrients missing from our modern diets.
2. Leaky Gut
When you have a leaky gut, it’s as if you’re throwing a drawbridge wide open for toxins, microbes, and immune-triggering food particles. These particles then flow freely throughout your bloodstream, where they can do some serious damage. A high-carb diet containing many inflammatory foods is one of the main culprits behind leaky gut. Other factors include medications, gut infections such as SIBO and Candida overgrowth, and stress.
The particles that escape into your bloodstream are seen as foreign invaders by your immune system. Your immune system uses inflammation to attack them in the same way it fights off a virus or bacterial infection. However, as your gut remains leaky, even something as simple as eating lunch causes this reaction because food particles are invading your bloodstream. Your immune system is constantly sending out wave after wave of inflammation, to the point where your body becomes chronically inflamed.
To naturally support a healthy gut lining and help seal the leak, I recommend following the 4R approach. My most comprehensive weapon for overcoming leaky gut is GI-Revive It contains L-glutamine, aloe vera, deglycyrrhizinated licorice, slippery elm, and marshmallow root for sealing and rebuilding a healthy gut lining. Other important gut-repairing supplements to include for optimal wellness are digestive enzymes, a high-quality probiotic, and collagen.
Environmental toxins are a major source of inflammation as they are all around us — from the food we eat to the water we drink to the air we breathe. They’re also in the products we use on our bodies and in our homes. We are exposed to all of these toxins every day:
- Medications such as antibiotics and birth control
- Mercury and other heavy metals in fish and amalgam fillings
- Plastics, including BPA
- Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and GMOs in non-organic produce
- Hormones in our food (especially dairy products)
- Air and water pollution
- Chemicals in our cleaning products and beauty products
- Cigarette smoke
Taming the toxins is an important step in fighting off inflammation, so what can you do to minimize your exposure?
Avoid Unnecessary Medications
Consider whether you really need to take certain medications. Antibiotics in particular are some of the most over-prescribed medications, with nearly half of outpatient prescriptions being completely unnecessary. If you are taking birth control for your skin or mood imbalances, these pills are merely masking the symptoms of a deeper problem while adding fuel to the inflammatory fire. I recommend getting to the root of your symptoms so you can ditch superfluous medications for good.
Reduce Heavy Metal Exposure
Reduce your exposure to heavy metals and other pollutants by filtering your air and water, and consider seeing a biological dentist to safely remove amalgam fillings. Reference the Environmental Defense Fund for lists of fish that are highest and lowest in mercury to make smarter choices about what you eat. You can also support your body’s detoxification with Glutathione. No other nutrient works harder to detoxify your body. Concentrated in your liver, glutathione is your body’s most important molecule when it comes to detoxifying heavy metals such as mercury, aluminum, and cadmium.
Ditch the Plastic
Ditch the plastic and replace your water bottle and storage containers with glass or stainless steel.
Try to buy organic whenever possible. If going completely organic is out of your budget, prioritize meat and buy grass-fed, pasture-raised meat and wild-caught fish. Also, prioritize buying organic produce if it listed on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen. These tend to carry the most pesticide residue.
Choose Non-Toxic Beauty and Cleaning Products
I recommend toxin-free beauty and cleaning products for daily use. My favorite non-toxic personal care brand is Beautycounter. And the best way to ensure you’re getting safe cleaning products is by making your own. The Autoimmune Solution Cookbook is not only a fantastic resource for recipes that support your health and your inflammatory response, it also includes simple, easy-to-use recipes for natural DIY household cleaners.
Don’t Drink or Smoke
If you haven’t done so already, then it should go without saying that you should quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption. These two bad habits are a burden on your immune system and your body as a whole. They accelerate aging and increase your risk of chronic illness.
Underlying bacterial and viral infections could be adding to your systemic inflammation levels. The presence of a virus such as Herpes simplex or Epstein-Barr, or bacteria including Lyme, H. Pylori, and E. coli trigger your immune system to release antibodies. If you have an autoimmune disease and changing your diet and lifestyle has not helped reduce your symptoms, I recommend testing for infections that may prevent you from reaching optimal health.
Stress is more than just a feeling — it’s an inflammatory state. When your body is met with a physical, mental, or emotional challenge, it releases hormones. This includes the primary stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol signals your immune system to gear up for fight or flight, and your immune system responds by producing inflammation. Once the danger has passed, cortisol then signals your immune system to calm down. However, when you are chronically stressed from a poor diet, sleep deprivation, or a stressful work environment and more, your body never gets the signal to “cool off” and inflammation runs rampant. This suppresses your overworked immune system, leaving you susceptible to infection, autoimmune disease, and other chronic illness.
Reduce your stress levels with a nutrient-dense diet, plenty of sleep, and stress-relieving activities such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or some much-needed “me-time” to emphasize self-care. You deserve it, and your health depends on it!
Tame Inflammation The Wehling Way®!
Now that you know where inflammation is coming from and how to stop it, you have the power to take health into your own hands and watch your brain fog, fatigue, autoimmunity, and other painful symptoms disappear. By supporting your body, your immune system, and your inflammatory response with these lifestyle strategies, YOU can prevent and reverse chronic illness, and enjoy a life of vibrant wellness.