Dear JJ: My doctor recently said I had chronic inflammation. I thought inflammation was a natural part of healing, but could this be keeping me from losing weight?
Last week I explained how chronic inflammation often becomes overlooked yet contributes to nearly every disease on the planet while holding your weight hostage. I discussed five fat-regulating hormones that inflammation could knock out of whack.
Many things trigger or exacerbate chronic inflammation, and chief among them becomes your diet.
Some foods fight inflammation; others create it. Food intolerances like corn and conventional eggs, sugar, and omega 6-rich vegetable oils become pro-inflammatory. Wild-caught fish, freshly ground flaxseeds, and almonds, on the other hand, come loaded with anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids.
Today we eat way too many inflammatory omega 6s. Researchers say while humans evolved eating an approximate-equal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids, today's diet contains on average 15 times more inflammatory fats.
Like most things in life, balance becomes key. "We need inflammation to heal," writes Dr. Jonny Bowden in The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer, but "we also need anti-inflammatory compounds to act as correctives when there's too much inflammation."
You can dial up those anti-inflammatory benefits with these nine strategies.
1. Ask your doctor for this test. Test, don't guess: A C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) test measures whether you have chronic, low-grade inflammation. Even slightly elevated levels can contribute to weight loss resistance, Type 2 diabetes, a heart attack, and stroke. "Finding out whether or not you are suffering from hidden inflammation is critical, because almost every modern disease is caused or affected by it," says Dr. Mark Hyman about this important test.
2. Crank up those omega 3s. Wild-caught fish and grass-fed beef provide the essential fatty acids EPA and DHA, while freshly ground flaxseeds and walnuts pack alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). All make great omega 3 sources, which according to Bowden "reduce chronic inflammation of any kind and are therapeutic for conditions such as asthma, heart palpitations, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, and allergies."
3. Spice things up. Herbs and spices provide serious flavor, nutrients, and variety while fighting inflammation. Turmeric, which lends curry its pungent color, packs a serious anti-inflammatory antioxidant punch. Likewise, a little ginger heals your gut, aids digestion, and lowers inflammation.
4. Supplement smartly. A number of science-supported nutrients can reduce inflammation. Studies show a quality fish oil can help balance your omega 3:6 ratio, especially if you're not regularly eating wild-caught fish or otherwise want therapeutic omega-3 doses. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, likewise fights inflammation.
5. Make breakfast a protein shake. My number one strategy to stay full, focused, and fat burning all morning likewise provides an opportunity to dial down inflammation. Freshly ground flaxseed, walnut butter, chia seeds, and leafy greens are among the anti-inflammatory ingredients that blend easily into a protein shake that takes minutes to make but fills you up for hours.
6. Eat more plant foods. Studies show carotenoids and flavonoids in colorful plant foods help reduce inflammation. Those are among the zillion reasons to eat a wide variety of preferably organic non-starchy veggies as well as low-sugar impact fruits like berries and avocado.
7. Drink up, with a few caveats. Yeah, I'm talking red wine, rich in the anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting antioxidant resveratrol. If you don't drink, don't start. If you do, red wine becomes an easy-does-it drink: More is not better. h
8. Get better sleep. Studies show people who get less than eight hours of quality sleep nightly have elevated inflammation levels. Crappy sleep can also knock fat-regulating hormones out of whack, cranking up inflammation in the process.
9. Burst. Your park, stairwell, or gym can pack an anti-inflammatory punch. Studies show high-intensity interval training (HIIT), also called burst training, can fight inflammation. I combine burst training with weight resistance for a full-body workout with my Fast Blasts in eight - yes, eight - minutes, about the time it takes for the snooze button to go off. You can grab a FREE one here.
Combined, these strategies provide a powerful protocol to reduce chronic inflammation, which knocks fat-burning hormones out of balance and creates weight loss resistance while holding your health hostage.
What strategy would you add here to reduce inflammation and overcome weight loss resistance? Share yours below. And keep those great questions coming at AskJJ@jjvirgin.com.
Bowden, Jonny (2007-01-01). The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth about What You Should Eat and Why. Creative Publishing International. Kindle Edition.
Bowden, Jonny (2010-01-01). The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth About What You Should Do to Prevent Disease, Feel Great, and Have Optimum Health and Creativity. Creative Publishing International. Kindle Edition.