By now, you are probably tired of me saying listen to your body and adjust your diet based on your body’s needs. You are probably frustrated and asking, how should I listen to my body, and what are you talking about?!! Therefore, I have decided to dedicate this post on the language that your body tends to use to communicate with you and what you need to look for. The way that your body communicates with you is by sending you two kinds of signals. the first kind is easier to understand and that is by pain and discomfort. The second kind, on the other hand, is much harder to realize and that is by becoming resistant to weight loss and starting to gain fat in places that you don’t want.
I would like to call our body’s language “inflammation”. Now let’s talk more about this.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s attempt at self-protection; the aim being to remove harmful stimuli, including damaged cells, irritants, or pathogens – and begin the healing process. There are two kinds of inflammation, “good inflammation” and “bad inflammation”.
Good inflammation is when something harmful or irritating affects a part of our body, there is a biological response to try to remove it, the signs and symptoms of inflammation, specifically acute inflammation, show that the body is trying to heal itself. As your body heals, the inflammation subsides and eventually goes away.
Bad inflammation is when our body reacts to something that is not generally harmful. An example: an allergy where our immune system overreacts to relatively harmless foods (think: peanut butter, shellfish, eggs) or substances (think: pollen, dust, latex).
Poor habits like eating an unhealthy diet, not exercising enough and consuming too much sugar can contribute to a bad type of inflammation also called “chronic” inflammation. These habits turn the immune system “on” and help it stay activated for a long period of time. Along with other factors, chronic inflammation can lead to chronic illness.
Overweight, inflammation, and food allergies are intimately related. Inflammation causes our master weight control hormone, leptin, to be less effective, thus causing weight gain, and both food allergies and being overweight cause inflammation.
As an adult (over age of 20), as we gain weight, our bodies do not add more fat cells, in most cases. The fat cells we already have become larger and are filled with more fat instead. They may leak as they are stretched more and more. Then immune cells called macrophages come in to clean up the mess. The macrophages release inflammatory chemicals in the fatty tissues as they are cleaning up. This inflammatory response may be the mechanism behind many of the negative effects of being overweight on health.
Your body counteracts this bad inflammation by producing anti-inflammatory chemicals. Some of these interfere with the function of the hormone leptin. In optimally healthy people, leptin is responsible for automatically maintaining weight at the right level. Some people do not gain weight no matter what they eat. If they overeat, their well-functioning leptin control system boosts their metabolism and decreases their appetite to restore them to their best weight. When leptin is made ineffective by inflammation, the dysfunction is called leptin resistance, meaning that even though you have normal or high levels of leptin your leptin does not work to suppress appetite and speed metabolism, thus maintaining a healthy weight.
5 ways to reduce inflammation in our body:
- Fist of all, get to know your fats and oils. In our western diet, we tend to consume far more Omega 6 compared to omega 3. This imbalance of Omega 6 to Omega 3 in our body causes inflammation. For more information regarding what cooking oils are best to consume in order to decrease this kind of inflammation in the body please refer to my post on Choosing the best edible oils.
- Avoid highly processed foods
- Lower your triglycerides. You can do this by reducing your intake of simple carbs, such as processed sugars, processed flours, etc.
- Sleep– Poor sleep has been implicated in problems with leptin
- Last but not least, know and address your hidden food allergies and sensitivities.
I believe, it would be good to spend some extra time to explain this last point regarding food allergies. You might wonder how you can discover your hidden food allergies. There are two ways to find out if you are reacting to foods.
- One is a blood test for IgG antibodies to foods. This is useful and can pinpoint trouble areas, but it is not 100 percent accurate.
- The second is a simple and well-accepted treatment called elimination/ provocation.
The last point means you get rid of the top trouble foods for 1 to 4 weeks, then reintroduce them one at a time and see what happens. I would like to think of the reintroduction phase as when you start introducing solid foods to a baby. Here is how it goes:
- Step one get rid of foods that most commonly upset the immune system such as gluten (wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt, kamut), dairy (milk, cheese, butter, yogurt), corn, eggs, soy, nuts, nightshades (tomatoes, bell peppers, potatoes, eggplant), citrus, and yeast (baker’s yeast, brewer’s yeast, and fermented products).
- Step two, reintroduce each one of these foods one by one for three consecutive days before reintroducing the next.
- Step three, have a food journal and take note of your energy level, your bloating, pains, discomfort, your weight, and how you felt each day in general. You can use any kind of food journal that you like or you can download my food journal below.
These simple steps will help you identify and eliminate foods that you are allergic to.
Remember as we age and depending on our environment, our body’s reaction to food can change, so make an effort to go through these steps at least once every couple of years, so you are not missing on any nutritious and delicious food or food groups for no reason.
Get more familiar with your body and how it reacts with what you eat. You can do this by going through a series of simple steps explained above and recording them.
Feel free to leave me a comment or question or if you find this post helpful. I would love to hear from you. Meanwhile,
Stay happy and healthy