If you have ever experienced inflammation, you know how uncomfortable it can be. But many of us carry inflammation and don't even know it. It can be within our organs and tissues affecting many different functions of the body. It’s often hard to pinpoint the exact cause of inflammation, but one cause may be due to the consumption of animal products. Let’s take a closer look at meat and inflammation.
What is Inflammation?
First, let’s quickly define what inflammation is and why it occurs. Inflammation is your body’s response to an injury or infection. It’s a natural defense mechanism; when your body senses something needs healing, it sends out white blood cells to help fight off the invader and repair the damage. This process can cause swelling, pain, redness, and heat in the affected area—all signs of inflammation. Although inflammation is a natural, needed response in our bodies, it can also cause harm when there's too much, too often, too long. In this way, inflammation is an insidious enemy-- often hidden and silent, yet capable of wreaking havoc on our health if left unchecked. It rears its head as diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune disease, cancer, and much more. Understanding its dangers can serve as a potent defense against the development of chronic illness.
The Meat Connection
So how does meat fit into this picture? Meat can be linked to inflammation due to its high levels of saturated fats, cholesterol, and arachidonic acid which clog up our arteries and trigger heart disease and cancer. Many processed meats contain nitrites and nitrates which are known carcinogens (cancer-causing agents). Some studies have indicated that animal proteins may stimulate an inflammatory response in our bodies because they contain certain types of amino acids like arginine and cysteine which can act as pro-inflammatory molecules. Also, meat stimulates insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) which promotes the growth, proliferation, and spread of cancer. (End of Dieting, Joel Fuhrman, MD.)
But if you do find yourself suffering from chronic inflammation or other health issues, reducing or eliminating meat from your diet might be one way to help reduce those symptoms. Additionally, incorporating more anti-inflammatory foods like fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants into your meals can also help reduce any underlying inflammation in your body.
At the end of the day, everyone has unique dietary needs—but for those experiencing chronic inflammation or health issues related to their diet, considering reducing or eliminating meat from their diets could potentially make a difference in their overall health and wellbeing. Incorporating more anti-inflammatory foods like fruits and vegetables can also help reduce underlying inflammation in the body while providing essential vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal health.
*I highly recommend finding a plant-based doctor who knows the science to guide you on your journey. Too many doctors are uninformed when it comes to food and health.
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