I have been working with many clients on the anti-inflammatory diet. It works on many symptoms and very well for injuries to speed up healing, too. Many of my clients have some kind of pain which is the main result of inflammation. But other conditions that are inflammation based are Crohn’s, IBS, auto-immune issues including Lupus and arthritis, skin issues like rosacea and others. I have some that respond quickly to the anti-inflammatory diet, while others it can take a wee bit longer to take full effect. I know for me, it took 6 months to get the inflammation under control with diet and supplements using Nutrition Response Testing every 2 months (should have done it every month looking back now). But the common issue is – are you fueling the fire if you eat even just a little bit of an inflammatory food?
When you are inflamed, it is basically like your body is on fire. It can be in the joints, it can be in the skin, it can be in muscles or the GI tract, or in Cardiovascular disease, in the blood vessels. It can just make you really tired and sleepy. It is becoming more common to understand that most health issues are based on an inflammatory based diet. But most of us don’t know any better, and our doctors won’t suggest a change in diet. And this is mainly due to ignorance and not realizing that nutrition can either fuel the inflammatory fire, or it can help snuff it out. Sometimes the inflammation manifests as pain. Sometimes GI distress and bloating. Sometimes just debilitating fatigue. But do you know which foods fuel the fire for you??
I have a client with Lupus. When she came to see me 2 months back, she had been taking a slew of medications, some to negate the side effects of others. So the list was rather extensive. She was ready to put out the fire with my nutrition help. And having followed me on Facebook the past few months and seeing that I could be pain free with a completely degenerative hip condition, she knew I must be on to something! Was she ready to be just like me? Maybe not to the extreme I was doing the anti-inflammatory diet, but with my guidance, I knew we could get her pain free and help her get off some of the medications over time.
We started with wheat free, then gluten free. Next was sugar free. And yes, my client did eat those components every now and then, but when she did, boy was she surprised at how her symptoms flared up! Yes, the wheat and sugar were definitely fueling her fire, and making every joint in her body ache and causing her to sleep and sleep and sleep. The fatigue was almost debilitating. Once we put out that fire with no sugar and no wheat/gluten, she was able to get off her Prednisone and be pain free! Yes, pain free.
With this client, it took about 6-8 weeks to notice the difference. Do we still have more fire to put out?? Maybe, but for now, we seem to be in a good place.
Another client has been diagnosed with a rare auto-immune condition that affects the skin and makes it susceptible to tearing. And some pain in tendons, too. We have started with the wheat free plan, and also avoiding brown rice which for many is also inflammatory and very hard to digest (despite all the healthy recommendations). Oats, buckwheat, quinoa, white or wild rice and amaranth are good grain alternatives if you are looking to replace wheat/ gluten. This wheat-free part seemed to be relatively easy, but no significant change in symptoms. Ok, next, can we put out the fire removing sugar? I hope so!
After a few weeks, we check in and client says she is not feeling a significant improvement. She is off sugar except the creamer in her coffee and some other small amount of sugar. But could it be that even that small amount is enough to fuel the fire? In my experience, yes. I have found that one needs to eliminate the offender (in the case sugar) completely for 2 weeks minimum, and preferably 3 months before you try to re-introduce and find out if you can tolerate even a bit of it. Yes, fueling the fire even with just a little bit of sugar can cause the symptoms to persist. This is not to say that for the rest of you life you will never be able to eat sugar again. But while until the symptoms subside, best to avoid inflammatory foods completely, 100% so as to ‘suffocate’ the fire.
With this client, as with me last year, I had some improvement with no wheat, some with no sugar, but as I kept finding other sources of inflamation via Nutrition Response Testing, I identified brown rice and petroluem/isopropyl alcohol as additional culprits causing inflamamtion. No, I did not eat petroleum or Isopropyl alcohol, but I did use AquaPhor (petrolatum/ medicated Vaseline type product which also had the alcohol!) and occasionally hand sanitizer (isoproplyl alcohol is the main ingredient!). Well no wonder my hip still ached! I was absorbing it thru my skin and it was fueling the fire! Regardless of the fact I was taking some supplements to control inflammation (see box on right for Inflavonoid IC and Omegagenics 500 concentrate), it was not until I managed to eliminate the fueling items that the supplements worked and I could stop taking Advil for my pain. Did I mention I also slept one hour less per night?
Sometimes, you have to avoid the inflammatory food for life. But only you can decide whether fueling the fire is worth the symptoms or not. Like for me, a soft pretzel is not worth getting brain fog, joint stiffness and bloating. But a chocolatey brownie with walnuts??? I could eat a small piece for sure! Would I eat anything with brown rice or brown rice syrup? No way! I found out yet again last week, that even half a muffin made with gluten free flour (brown rice, flax seeds and other whole grains) just made me so sleepy 6 hours later and forced me into a recovery ride instead of a spirited group bike ride. The fatigue is just not worth it for me. Maybe in 1-2+ years I can reintroduce it and be side-effect free. But until then, I will find recipes that have no brown rice flour or brown rice syrup.
The point is, you need to identify what the inflammatory foods are so you stop fueling the fire. It is a process, and sometimes it is easy, sometimes much more complex. But healing is a process. If you have had issues for 3-10 years, 2-4 weeks is probably not a realistic time frame to expect the issues to go away. But fueling the fire with even just a little bit will hasten the healing. Knowing what the next steps are in determining how to put the fire out is where I can help create that road map to follow. I will help you with alternatives to the foods you avoid so it is not as hard as it originally seems. But it may take up to 3-6 months or longer to notice a major difference.
Nutrition Response Testing was a huge help in my journey to identifying what fueled my fire. Paying attention to how I felt with foods I was eating also helped. But it had to start with the desire to find the solution and stop fueling the fire.