| By Big Jeff Pearce |
Everyday, there is some new thing in the news that you should be afraid of, something you shouldn’t be eating or something that is causing cancer. Needless to say, a lot of it is scare tactics designed to get viewership or readers. However, the topic of this article, inflammation, is very real. This isn’t the Boogie-man or Sasquatch; inflammation is very real and has been ignored for quite some time. The reality is that inflammation is something that, while necessary, can cause some huge problems.
Inflammation has been linked to some fairly unpleasant diseases and can exacerbate others. Inflammation is linked to Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, cancer, coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Parkinson’s disease and many more. Frankly, inflammation is something that all of us, sedentary or athletic, need to actively try to reduce.
What the Heck is Inflammation?
Inflammation is both good and bad. We’ve all hurt ourselves and saw the area swell up like a balloon. Inflammation is an inherent part of the healing process and without it, our wounds, cuts, scrapes, etc. would never heal. Living without inflammation would then present kind of a problem right? There are two types of inflammation, acute and chronic.
Acute inflammation is the response to a harmful event, as described above. It increases the movement of plasma and white blood cells from the blood into the injured area. I’m sure you can see how important this response is. Chronic inflammation is the presence of inflammation over an extended period of time in a particular area. This is what causes a lot of the problem. This can largely be linked to diet.
In your body, you have inflammatory and anti-inflammatory compounds. These compounds are sourced only from fats. Omega-6 fatty acids are responsible for pro-inflammatory compounds, while Omega-3 fatty acids are responsible for anti-inflammatory compounds. Ideally, you should have an even ratio of both so that your body can shut down the inflammatory process effectively. Without those compounds present within your body, you become a victim to inflammation. You may be thinking to yourself, my body is really well nourished, I’m good. Wrong.
It may shock you to learn that, on average, North American diets contain a ratio of 17:1 pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory fats. But, don’t freak out! There are a lot of easy things that you can do to start fixing this right now!
Fix Your Diet
Yeah, fix your diet. Duh. Eat more anti-inflammatory, omega-3 sources to balance out your already over saturated omega-6 diet. For those of us that enjoy getting our fats from real food sources, here is a list of foods that provide fats for anti-inflammatory compounds in your body.
Best Omega-3 Fatty Acid Sources:
- Wild Salmon
- Chia Seeds
Here is a list of some foods that provide the body with the tools to create anti-inflammatory compounds:
- Brussels sprouts, spinach, chard, kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers and tomatoes.
- Beans, nuts and seeds
- Any kind of onion
- Herbs & Spices: parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, mint, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon.
A huge mistake many people make is that they think that all omega fats are created equal. Guess what, they aren’t. I’ve heard some of my fellow gym rats talk about how there is no difference between getting omega-3 capsules and getting omega-3-6-9 capsules. Guess what, there is a hyooooggggeeee difference! The whole aim of this article is to highlight how important it is to bring more anti-inflammatory fats into your diet so that you can even out the ratio of pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory fats. So, supplementing with Omega-6 is just shooting yourself in the foot and contributing to increased prevalence of pro-inflammatory compounds in your body.
Also, all omega supplements are NOT created equal. Quality needs to be considered as well. Just getting a random bottle from the grocery store may not make the cut here. Ideally, they should be in a dark, light free, sealed bottle. They are sensitive to heat, light and oxygen. Ideally, you want a clean source from wild salmon and/or wild sardines and mackerel, not a farm fish source. Omega-3s are notoriously easy to corrupt or ruin.
Other Anti-Inflammatory Supplements
There are a variety of different anti-inflammatory compound supplements out there. When choosing one of these, make sure that you verify the ingredients on the label. Some of these supplement blends don’t have all of the good stuff that you want in there. Also, make sure that you are getting a supplement that uses good quality sources and not just bottom of the barrel stuff. Make sure that the capsules don’t contain things like shellac. Yeah, shellac! Shellac is a resin made by bugs that is used in things like paint primer and wood finish. Can you believe that some supplement manufacturers used to use shellac in their capsules? Some still do. Be careful. Your supplement should contain some (or ideally all – good luck) of the following ingredients:
- Vitamin D
- Boswellia Serrata
Take a good look at your diet and think about the litany of diseases that I rattled off in the beginning of this article. What can you do to improve your diet and prevent any of those diseases from touching your life? Take what you’ve learned, apply it and spread the word like inflammation in a freshly stubbed toe.
Jeff Pearce, Editor-In-Chief
Big Jeffrey Pearce, is a physical culture writer, editor, personal trainer, and a lifetime natural bodybuilder from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has been bodybuilding and strength training since he was 16 years old and remains a dedicated gym rat to this day. Big Jeff is one of the strongest athletes you will ever meet, routinely bench pressing 500lbs and tossing up 150lb dumbbells for reps in a typical workout. An honors graduate from the University of Toronto, Jeff’s brains also match his brawn. Jeff has a passion for writing and has been in featured in Muscular Development. Jeff also coaches high school kids on the benefits of strength training and nutrition.