Using delicious fish to fight your inflammation!

 

Have you ever noticed how bears never get autoimmune disease? Okay, I don’t actually know if that’s true, but I’m going to guess that this fella above and his buddies are pretty darn healthy. That’s because they are gorging themselves on some of the earth’s most powerful forms of omega 3 fatty acids.

While I have been a plant eater for the majority of my life, as I’ve gotten more in tune with my body I’ve found that my sweet spot is eating mostly plant-based with the occasional high-quality animal protein. Sometimes this looks like pasture-raised beef, chicken, or pork a few times a month, but mostly, like that bear, my go-to is fish — specifically fish that is high in omega 3 and low in mercury such as wild-caught salmon, Pacific-caught sardines, farmed rainbow trout, and Atlantic mackerel.

The good news about fish…

I eat these fish because they are delicious but also because the omega 3 fatty acids in them reduce inflammation. For those of us with autoimmune disease, we know that the key to feeling good is to reduce the inflammation in our bodies. Omega 3 fatty acids do that by influencing our inflammatory cells.  When we eat foods with omega 3 fatty acids or take supplements, those fats go into our cells that are causing us so much pain and sickness and say, “You can relax now.” How amazing is that? One study looking at the impact of omega 3 on autoimmune disease reported that:

“[m]any of the placebo-controlled trials of fish oil in chronic inflammatory diseases reveal significant benefit, including decreased disease activity and a lowered use of anti-inflammatory drugs.”

That alone is motivation enough to add in a dose of high omega 3 fish into your diet. Am I right?

Wild-caught salmon have some of the highest levels of omega 3s out there, for one 3-ounce cooked piece you can get upwards of 1,500 milligrams of omega 3s.  Canned sardines can give you up to 1,000 milligrams per a 3-ounce serving.  Check out these recipes for quick ways to add salmon and sardines to your week.

But

The bad news about fish…

Omega 3s are the good news, but when it comes to fish, there is also some bad news. Due to humans dirtying up the planet, high levels of mercury have made their way into the ocean and into the bodies of marine life.  This is a problem because when we eat the fish we are being exposed to that mercury. And mercury exposure can cause inflammation and may even be the culprit behind some people’s autoimmune disease. On top of all that, it can cause neurological problems, birth defects, cardiovascular disease, etc., etc.

So before you go to town eating fish every day to reduce your inflammation, remember that you have to balance the two. Thankfully, the Environmental Working Group has an excellent tool to help you do just that. This calculator will tell you which fish you can safely eat and how much you can eat each week to avoid getting too much mercury.

What do you think? Is fish your thing? Do you think about the mercury in your food? Do you think about getting omega 3 on a daily basis? Let me know in the comments below.

Shush, your body is trying to tell you something.

amazing-bodtHi there.

I’ve been thinking about how our bodies are just amazing, so well designed. Now you may be thinking, “I feel like poop, I can’t lose weight, and I have three diagnoses from three different doctors telling me that my body is  definitely not amazing, in fact, my body is broken.”  I get that. I’ve felt broken for a lot of my life, but the truth is that the things that lead me to believe that —  my inability to lose weight, the never having energy, and always feeling like my brain was just in a haze — were actually just my body doing its job really well.

What?!?

Let’s back up. Our bodies are designed to protect us. When we cut our finger our white blood cells rush to the wound to protect us from the bad stuff that can come in. When we are chased by a dog, our brain sets the stress response in motion so we can either fight or fly…um…er…run away. These things ensure that we don’t die from a paper cut or just give up and let the dog eat us. BUT…

BUT…

But when these systems are called on repeatedly they start to damage our body. For example, when we let things into our body that shouldn’t be there, like highly processed food, sugar, cigarette smoke, and other toxins, our bodies creates inflammation to deal with it. And it deals with it and deals with it until our inflammation response gets stuck on attack. Then it starts to attack us…our healthy tissue.  Likewise, when we are chronically stressed, our brain is under the impression that we are being chased by that dog all the time, which means the stress response is suppressing our normal processes, like absorbing and metabolizing our food or burning fat for fuel.

The good news is that our body will usually give us some signs that things are going wrong, but we are horrible at listening to those things. Unfortunately, it often takes us so long to pay attention that we listen only when something scary happens. So listen to your body and take those signs seriously.

In fact, before we getting into the busy time of year, I would encourage you all to stop and take stock of what your body is trying to tell you. Is it overwhelmed with stressed? Is it showing signs of inflammation, like swollen joints, bowel problems, brain fog, etc? For resources on stress management, check this out.  For real food recipes to reduce inflammation you can go here. And if you are interested to see if I can help you listen to your body and get it back in balance contact me here for a free health consultation.