Inflammation….I have my struggles with inflammation! I Imagine a lot of you also have inflammation and you may not even know it.
As some of you know I do have Hashimoto thyroiditis, and one of the culprits with Hashimoto is inflammation. The more inflammation I have, the worse the Hashimoto symptoms are. Some of my symptoms are joint pain, bloating, headaches, brain fog and absolute exhaustion. These are the worst and most annoying symptoms that I have, and other people may have totally different symptoms.
Inflammation is part of the complex biological response of body tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants.
However, in some chronic diseases, like arthritis and thyroiditis, the body’s defense system — the immune system — triggers an inflammatory response when there are no foreign invaders to fight off. In these diseases, called autoimmune disease, the body’s normally protective immune system causes damage to its own tissues.
Inflammation is the cause of many other illnesses or conditions. Pretty much any illness or disease that ends in “itis” is inflammation. (From MedicineNet.com :itis: Suffix meaning inflammation) So think arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, thyroiditis, colitis, appendicitis…. you get the idea. A lot of these will give you aching, pain, fever, chills, headaches, fatigue and flu-like symptoms. When inflammation is flaring up, you generally feel pretty crappy. Some studies are even pointing to chronic inflammation as a cause of depression, diabetes and fatty liver disease.
There are numerous OTC and prescription drugs that you can use to control inflammation, or you can dig deeper and try to get to the root cause…what is causing the inflammation in the first place? That is always the route I choose to go, as I would rather treat the cause, rather than the symptoms. (My Dr. knows that this is how I do things and we just monitor my situation and see how I feel.)
Some of the absolute biggest causes of inflammation (and autoimmune conditions) is what we eat. Our crappy diet of junk food, fast food, bad fats, huge amounts of simple and unhealthy carbs, alcohol and sugar are giving us all sorts of chronic ‘itis’ illnesses and diseases.
Food sensitivities are also another huge trigger. A lot of these sensitivities show up as we age, due to toxic overload and leaky gut syndrome. With leaky gut syndrome we have damaged the lining of our guts and the body is not getting rid of toxins as it should be. There is tons of reading that can be done on this subject alone. Some common food sensitivities are dairy, gluten, and peanuts, but like everything else, your body, it is a really personal thing.
When I was diagnosed with Hashimoto Thyroiditis, I went on a really strict eating plan, and I had so much relief. I pretty much ate vegetables, fruits, some meat and healthy fats. I eliminated grains, diary, sugar, chocolate, alcohol, potatoes and any processed food. It made a huge difference, the joint pain was gone, the headaches, bloating, and brain fog were gone or vastly improved. I felt human again.
Over the last year I have let my diet slip abit, and could usually tell instantly when I ate something I should not have. I mean sometimes it is really hard to eat in a strict way all the time. I have always stayed totally grain free though. It is imperative to remain gluten and possible grain free when you have an autoimmune issue. Since we went to Las Vegas in September, I have had a bit more trouble with my eating… I had cheesecake while I was there, and a few other foods on my ‘this will make me feel like crap’ list. The biggest thing for me is sugar. I have a horrible sweet tooth. Once I have some sugar, I want more. I am like an alcoholic with it, and there is no such thing as ‘ everything in moderation’ when it comes to me and sugar. Sugar is hugely inflammatory too.
So we came home from Vegas and I tried to get back to healthy, but what happens in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas! My sweet tooth got on the plane and came home with me, and then Christmas came, and then I started eating more potatoes, and chips. Even though they were organic chips with only 3 ingredients, potatoes seem to bother me. I started giving into my cravings for some yogurt. Oh and I started making peanut butter balls… after all used organic peanut butter and some local honey…all healthy stuff. EXCEPT when PB is a food that you are sensitive too.
I even wrote a post for New Years about happiness and always eating the cheesecake…oops, maybe I won’t ALWAYS eat the cheesecake.
Finally last week, my immune system had enough….. I was loaded up with inflammation. Every joint in my body hurt, my shoulders were huge hot spots, I had a headache, and the extreme fatigue came back, and depression and lack of motivation too. I quickly recognized what was going on, and I made the decision to smarten up. No more chocolate, sugar, yogurt or potatoes. And guess what….within 3 days the joint pain is gone, and I am starting to feel more normal again. Not to say its easy…. I would almost kill for some chocolate. But I am pushing through it, because I know when I get through the next few days I will feel so much better and the cravings will go away. ( as a bonus this clean eating is also good for balancing other hormones, and gives you so much more energy and clarity as well. )
Ok… so that’s my story, now back to talking about inflammation. IF you suffer from any of the “itis” conditions I urge you to start making changes with your lifestyle. You do not need to live with the pain and the symptoms of your inflammation (or your autoimmune illness). The 3 big things are food, stress and lack of exercise. I know that you can not eliminate all stress immediately, but do what you can and start making small changes today. Figure out what is causing you stress, is it real? Is it happening now, can you change it? Start prioritizing what is important….and when you are not feeling well, health takes priority whether you make it a priority or not. How much time do you spend feeling crappy, thinking about how you feel crappy, or trying to make yourself feel better. Go outside everyday for a walk, get some fresh air and sunshine… and yes I know that is my solution to everything. But it does work wonders.
The biggest thing you can do is watch what you put in your mouth, changing your diet will bring big changes quickly. Try eliminating grains, dairy, sugar and alcohol for 14 days. See how you feel. There may be other foods that you find bother you also… you already know they bother you. Do you feel bloated after a feed of mashed potatoe, or a bowl of bean filled chili? Maybe cut those foods too. Load up on lots of vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, sweet potato and some meat.there is so much you can eat! Be positive and optimistic about the changes.
Try it… its hard, BUT YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS! I have faith in you.
( My best attempt at a picture of a woman who does hard things! Slay that inflammation…. )
Let me know what you think, is inflammation causing you to have ‘itis’ illnesses?