You may know, I have suffered from Chronic Inflammation.
I got the”privilege” of figuring this out for myself, because even though I went to a plethora of doctors for the first 20 years of my life, no one ever mentioned that inflammation may be the root cause of many of my problems. Seriously, when I say “a plethora of doctors,” that’s exactly what I mean. I saw at least 4 dermatologists, an allergist, an eye specialist, multiple general practitioners, and after none of that provided any long-term success, I tried all the home-remedies I could find. I even cut out all processed food and went vegan. Even so, my cholesterol levels were too high (at age 23), my skin was riddled with eczema, I had horrible allergies (my eyes would swell in addition to sneezing and coughing), and I always had something going on – I would either be constipated, have a headache, feel fatigued, have some sort of pain somewhere, or something else.
For a few years after going vegan, (which I really thought would help), I made a lot of homemade bread, and I ate a lot of pasta. At the time, little did I know that gluten is a major inflammatory food. All that bread-y food made my health problems worse.
After 2 decades of dealing with health problems, I took made a last-ditch effort to heal my skin (that’s all I wanted at the time). I got advice from health coach Michelle Mills (who’s fabulous, btw), and I immediately cut out most oils, refined sugar, eggs and dairy (which wasn’t a problem as I was vegan at the time), and gluten. Gluten was huge! I can eat bits of the other stuff now (after avoiding them completely for nearly a year), but I’m definitely never eating gluten again.
I think the mental decision I made also helped kick-off my healing, because I began having a major detox reaction within hours of cutting out those foods and stopping my topical ointments. Thank goodness I knew what that was, or it would have terrified me. My face swelled up until my cheek cracked and one of my eyes wouldn’t open, my skin became rashy sleeves going down my arms, and I had mild body ached all over.
That joyousness lasted about a week and a half. Then I began noticing how quickly my body was healing itself! Every day for a long time, I was noticing something clearing up. To completely heal, it took about 10 months, but at least 70% of my problems were gone within 2 months. The biggest change has been in my allergies. I live in East Texas, so I’ve always struggled with allergies, but now I sneeze about once a day, and only in the spring when the pollens are coming out. In addition to the allergies, my eczema has all but disappeared, my cholesterol has improved, and all my small, random problems have gone away.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve refined my diet to minimize processed food, dyes, preservatives, sugar, and I exercise more, but Michelle Mills’ food recommendations are still the foundation of my diet. All these restrictions on my diet do make certain aspects of life difficult. For example, I live an hour away from the closest city, so I don’t have access to many of the convenience foods that exist for my diet. It can also be more expensive. I eat much more rice now because GF pasta is more expensive than regular pasta. I also buy 15 lbs of oats at a time, because GF oats in a normal size are a ridiculous price. Eating out and family gatherings can also be difficult. In this area, people really glom on the dairy and gluten in foods.
However, even though I have to be very diligent about my food, I would never consider going back. The occasional annoyances I experience because of my diet can’t rival the day-to-day comfort I have in my own body.
I’ve learned so much over the past couple years and have refined my diet and lifestyle a ton, but the initial change I would suggest for anyone trying to reduce inflammation is to cut out gluten and processed food. That alone will help a lot. That may not be the absolutely most ideal diet, but it’s likely 85-90% better than the Standard American Diet.
Good luck to anyone attempting this (and I really think everyone would benefit to some extent). Changing your diet in any way can be challenging, but you can absolutely do it.