What lies behind pain is ALWAYS inflammation.
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing! In fact, if you sprain your ankle, the inflammatory response to that acute injury is actually what you want. It’s part of the HEALING process.
It’s the low-grade, silent inflammation – you may not even know about it – that causes chronic pain. It also leads directly to illness, whether that means diabetes, IBS, arthritis, cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, or other chronic conditions.
But if that sounds simple – inflammation is always behind pain – it leads to the next logical question… Where does the inflammation come from?
Assuming there was no acute injury, inflammation is an ACID problem. The acid may be coming from what you eat, how much stress you’re experiencing, environmental toxins, or a sedentary lifestyle, but whatever the reason, acid is the source of the inflammation.
That’s why you need to do whatever you can to control the acid entering your body. You can’t control each and every toxin in the environment (wouldn’t that be nice?), but you can control what you eat. And you can take steps to lessen your stress load like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga.
Foods That Cause Pain
So which foods trigger an inflammatory response that leads to pain?
50% of Americans consume a half-pound of sugar EVERY DAY. All of that sugar is literally making us sick and in pain.
What happens is that when you eat sugar, blood glucose levels spike. In order to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, the pancreas releases more and more insulin. If this happens long enough and often enough, it becomes a chronic inflammatory issue, leading to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and more.
The pancreas is one of the most important organs in charge of maintaining alkaline balance. Chronic, low-grade acidosis increases body toxicity over time, making you more vulnerable to injuries and illness.
Bottom line: if you get sick or injured frequently, the hidden culprit may be the sugar in the foods you eat.
Think of the minor aches and pains you get as a helpful warning sign of potentially bigger issues like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer down the road. You CAN turn your health around. Remember that with each thing you put in your mouth, you’re choosing to FUEL disease, or to FIGHT it!
By the way, artificial sweeteners are no better! They also lead to inflammation, and some of them are directly linked to cancer and other serious diseases.
Anti-Inflammatory Swap: My advice for kissing sugar goodbye is actually NOT to start by addressing the sugar in your diet. Begin eating alkaline foods rich in good, healthy fats, which will help shift your body from running on sugar to running on fat:
- Coconut oil
- Flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds
- Raw nuts and nut butters
- Wild-caught salmon and other low-mercury fish
Also, add more foods high in magnesium and other minerals – dark leafy greens like watercress, kale, spinach, romaine, and chard – because if you crave sugar, your body is really craving and deficient in magnesium.
[Read: The Real Key to Ending Your Sugar Cravings for Good]
In terms of wanting sweetness, opt for organic liquid stevia or lo han berry.
In the US, most of us have bought into the highly-funded marketing campaigns claiming that dairy is healthy. Hook, line, and sinker.
But there’s a reason the #1 allergy in children is dairy.
Milk contains casein, a milk protein that is difficult for humans to digest. Actually, even cows aren’t meant to digest it after infancy! It clogs up and slows down the digestive system in humans, which is where a lot of inflammation begins.
Casein protein has been linked to cancer, especially breast cancer in women.
Cows also consume a diet high in omega-6 fatty acids from corn and soy. These are the pro-inflammatory fats – drinking cow’s milk is a recipe for heart disease. We’ll talk about that more in a moment.
Beyond that, when you drink milk, you’re also getting a dose of antibiotics, growth hormones, pesticides, and painkillers. That’s because 80% of all antibiotics in the US are fed to livestock, as well as a huge amount of other drugs.
Anti-Inflammatory Swap: Coconut milk, almond milk, hemp milk, and cashew milk (note – consume cashews and cashew products in moderation as they can become contaminated with fungus) are easy swaps!
Nut milks are a great alternative to cow’s milk, and they supply more calcium than cow’s milk. Make sure you’re choosing unsweetened nut milks (no cane sugar). And I suggest you buy organic nut milk produced without carrageenan, a dangerous stabilizer that more and more brands are removing. But read labels to be sure.
[Read more about the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to nut milk.]
#3: Chicken and Many Meat Products
There’s a long-chain omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid called Arachidonic acid, or ARA for short. Like other omega-6 fats, ARA is a pro-inflammatory acid found in poultry, eggs, red meat, and vegetable oils.
However – and this may surprise you – chicken carries over 3 times more of this pro-inflammatory fat than beef!
Our modern diets have led to a huge increase in omega-6 fats because of the increase in processed grain consumption, meat eating, and vegetable oil use.
This is why research shows the average American has 19 times more pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats than anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats in their system at any given time.
In many cases, this ratio is 25:1, and I have even seen 50:1! This means no balance for the inflammation in your brain, your heart, your gut, and anywhere else in your body that’s causing pain.
Along with chicken, you want to avoid processed meats like bacon, sausage, hot dogs, cold cuts, and beef jerky. They contain nitrates and other preservatives that have been linked to inflammation and in some cases cancer.
Anti-Inflammatory Swap: If you’re going to eat meat of any kind, always go for organic, grass-fed, and free-range. Fish is the best option. And red meat is far better for you than chicken. If you eat eggs, be sure to eat the yolks, which contain omega-3 fatty acids to balance out the ARA in the whites.
#4: Table Salt
For you to be healthy and full of energy, salt is a necessity. Believe it or not, your body is electric and it runs on salt. But it has to be the RIGHT kind of salt, and that is where the problem lies.
There are salts that HEAL, and salts that KILL!
Table salt as part of a processed, carbohydrate and preservative-filled diet that too many Americans eat leads to heart disease and inflammation
However, the science is unclear on whether salt itself is the culprit. On the SAD diet (standard American diet) 80% of the salt people consume comes from processed foods, so it’s hard to separate the baby from the bathwater, so to speak.
What is clear is that removing table salt (sodium chloride on many labels) from your diet will also remove many of the processed foods that certainly aren’t helping us.
Anti-Inflammatory Swap: You DO NOT need to eat a low sodium diet in order to avoid the inflammation and pain brought on by salt. You just need to eat the right salts.
Standard sea salts contain some naturally occurring minerals like potassium, iron, and zinc. Unfortunately, they can also contain trace heavy metals due to oceanic pollution.
My recommendations, always, are to choose Celtic Grey salt, Redmond Real Salt, or Himalayan mineral salt.
#5: Vegetable Oils
As vegetable oil and processed grain consumption have risen to unprecedented rates, so has the amount of pro-inflammatory omega-6s in our modern diet.
Even if you don’t cook with canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, margarine, safflower oil, sunflower oil, or grapeseed oil (the worst omega-6:omega-3 ratio out of any food or oil), you’re consuming it through any non-grass-fed animal protein, farmed-raised fish, and lots of processed foods, as discussed above. Pretty much every processed food with a label is contaminated with these inflammatory fats.
When you consume a heavily acidic diet high in omega-6 fats, chronic and excessive inflammation occurs, and chronic disease is the result. Because your brain is primarily fat, a diet that heavily favors omega-6 fats causes inflammation of your brain.
Again, the ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 should be 1:1, and no more than 4:1. In reality, it’s often 25:1 or more. So is it any wonder that we have a serious problem on our hands with heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other inflammatory diseases?
Excessive intake of omega-6 and inadequate intake of omega-3 predisposes us to an exaggerated inflammatory response, which is at the core of every healthy condition from fatigue to pain to chronic disease.
Anti-Inflammatory Swap: Switch to extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil for raw purposes, and coconut oil when cooking. But the most important thing you can do to combat the risk of too many inflammatory fats is getting your daily dose of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats.
It’s very difficult to eat a diet rich enough in omega-3, and unless you eat salmon 3 meals a day, you are deficient without a supplement.
Our Acid-Kicking Daily Omega-3 is the best quality supplement on the planet. It’s the ONLY one with the ideal 2:1 ratio of EPA to DHA in a highly concentrated form. So you can take less and get more benefit from it. Plus it’s heavy metal free and guaranteed for potency and freshness, so no fishy taste.
#6: Fried Food
Let’s be honest, when was the last time you ate a fried food and felt great after? There’s a reason this stuff makes you feel like garbage!
These foods are often fried in the oils we just discussed, so they too are loaded with inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. Plus, they are usually loaded with meat, dairy, or processed carbs that do little for you nutritionally. Even relatively better options like falafel negate the benefits of chickpeas when they are fried in oil.
Anti-Inflammatory Swap: This one is a cooking swap rather than a food swap. Baking and roasting are much better alternatives for your health than inflammatory frying. The best option of all is raw, which is anti-inflammatory and leaves food full of its vital nutrients.
#7: Gluten and Processed Carbs
The problem with bread, pasta, crackers, pastries, chips, and other processed snacks and carbohydrates is that most people don’t think their pain and health problems are caused by the foods they’ve been eating their entire lives. They just think, “There must be something wrong with me,” or “This is just the way it is for me.”
What happens when people just learn to live with pain and symptoms is called Leaky Gut Syndrome. Gluten is so acidic that it creates openings, like craters, in your gut. Because of these perforations in the intestinal wall, the body’s army can’t stop acid from getting into the bloodstream.
If you regularly experience diarrhea, gas, or bloating, you probably already have a leaky gut. Because gluten sticks like glue to your intestines, you’re likely to feel bloated for days at a time after consuming it.
In addition, many of these foods are also made using the inflammatory fats we talked about already.
Anti-Inflammatory Swap: My favorite carbohydrate is quinoa, which is not a grain, but a seed. So it’s full of healthy fats, protein, fiber, and nutrients. It’s an easy swap for rice and any ancient grains. If you’re looking for a swap for bread, go for Ezekiel bread, which is processed according to ancient traditions and therefore, far less inflammatory to the digestive system.
The Pain & Inflammation Killer (That’s Not a Pain Killer!)
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GET OFF YOUR ACID!