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Inflammation

I have talked a little bit about Inflammation and anti-inflammatory stuff, but only briefly. So today I thought I would share a little bit more about what I have learned and how it has affected my body in hopes that it might help others understand a little bit more as well.

When my oldest daughter left for college, I decided to go with her to help her get settled in. She planned on living with my parents, so there was the added benefit of getting to visit family at the same time. Leaving for college is at a particularly stressful time of the year as I had our other 3 children starting school at the same time I would be gone, and I had just been asked to teach early morning Seminary, which I would start teaching the day after I returned, and for some reason, going places away from my normal routine makes me anxious. Once I’m going, I’m fine, it’s just the thoughts of getting there that make me more stressed. I started to develop a small itchy spot on my arm and couldn’t figure out what it was. By the time I got home it had spread. I went to the doctor to discover it was Eczema. I hadn’t ever had it before, so I started to do some research about it. The one common thing I kept coming back to was inflammation and how what we eat affects the inflammation level in our bodies.

Inflammation is not a bad thing. When we get hurt the area swells, as it should, bringing more blood flow to the area to help it heal faster. But excessive inflammation in our bodies has a very negative effect on almost every part of our bodies. Inflammation is one of the leading contributors to cancers, heart disease, skin problems, joint issues, gut issues, sleep problems, lung issues, gum and mouth issues, inability to lose weight and so on. But it’s hard to find out how to control that inflammation. As a result of not being able to find the kind of information that I was looking for, I used the steroid cream to clear up my skin and then went on my way, never really totally getting rid of the eczema for long, but kind of keeping it mostly gone for most of the time. I really didn’t work as hard as I should have.

Fast forward a year and a half later to just around Christmas 2021. I was sitting at the table eating dinner when I started to feel a dull throb in my shoulder. As the evening wore on the throb became much more intense to the point that I couldn’t lift or rotate my arm. Within a few days it had subsided enough to go back to my normal routine, and I chalked it up to a random bug or something. But 2 weeks later, the same throb started, only this time intensifying. I ended up at an orthopedic doctor thinking I had somehow dislocated my shoulder or something. It was actually an old injury that had flared up due to excessive inflammation. I have a blog post from that time that details what was wrong with my shoulder called Injury. But as I visited with the doctor, he mentioned in passing the importance of diet and how it relates to inflammation in the body. This time I was listening and decided I needed to do some serious research.

There are all sorts of lists of foods that are anti-inflammatory, and foods that are really inflammatory, and these are a great place to start, but I am a numbers person. I wanted to know exactly how inflammatory or anti-inflammatory any given food was. Fortunately, I have a Heavenly Father who helps me find things when I don’t know where else to look. I happened to be in a local bookstore and just wandering for a few minutes and found the book I needed. It’s called “The Inflammation Free Diet Plan” pictured below.

There is now an app that goes along with this book called “IF Tracker”. This book is set up with a point system for foods. This has been a huge help for me in my efforts to eat better and keep my inflammation under control. Foods in this book (and that app has way more than the book) are listed in a point system. Foods that are inflammatory are given a negative point, higher or lower depending on how inflammatory it is, and foods that are anti-inflammatory are given a positive number, again higher or lower depending on how anti-inflammatory it is. The goal being to stay on the positive side of things, meaning anti-inflammatory. This has been a life saver for me. It’s easy to follow and the app makes it easy for me to calculate even the things I make from scratch as you can add your own recipes and it calculates it all for you.

How has this affected me? I rarely have any eczema, and when I do start to get itchy, it’s usually because I haven’t been monitoring my diet very well. I rarely have to use the steroid cream anymore as I can now control it with my diet. One thing I have always had is excess gas and gut issues. My family has gall bladder issues and I had always assumed that it had something to do with that. But as I have been staying on the anti-inflammatory side of the range these issues have almost completely disappeared. I have had less problems with my joints as a whole and have had no more issues with my shoulder at all. I also found it interesting that the water that I had retained to some degree or another since having children, had all disappeared. Overall, I feel better and have more energy when I am following the plan. The thing I like most about it though, is the flexibility. I can eat inflammatory foods as long as I balance them out with anti-inflammatory foods because like I said above, inflammation has its purposes as well. There is no cutting out food groups. It’s about eating smarter and balancing what I eat. I am so grateful my Heavenly Father is mindful of me and how my mind works, and that He helped me find this book that taught be a ton about inflammation and helped me get back to feeling better. If you have inflammation issues, or any issue that you think might be affected by what you eat, this book and app are a great resource to help you get back on track and feel better.

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