Staying Healthy During Tough Economic Times
By David Seaman, MS, DC, DACBN
Many of us are feeling the economic crunch these days. Money is tight and the bills continue to arrive in our mailboxes. Stressful times such as these demand resiliency on our part, particularly in terms of our exercise and diet habits. Interestingly, a mentally stressed state can promote inflammation throughout the body. Avoiding mental stressors is not likely to be easy during these times, so we must consider the importance of avoiding inflammation caused by other factors, such as poor diet and lack of exercise.
When you hear the word inflammation, you probably think first about swelling, redness, pain, etc., that can occur following an acute injury, irritation or infection. In general, this is short-term, localized inflammation (confined to a certain area of the body). But inflammation can also occur without physical injury. This is general, body-wide (systemic) inflammation, and it can cause subtle biochemical injuries to body tissues, increasing the risk of developing a number of serious diseases over time.
We promote the development of systemic inflammation by avoiding exercise and remaining sedentary. Not surprisingly, we should exercise daily to help prevent inflammation, and we must also modify our dietary habits. Believe it or not, diet is actually the most important factor affecting inflammation. Scientific research suggests that most diseases are caused by chronic, diet-induced inflammation. The average American diet is high in calories and low in fiber and nutrients. Approximately 80 percent of the calories consumed by Americans are derived from refined flour products, refined sugar, refined seed oils (concentrated source of omega-6 and trans fats) and fatty meat. It is now common knowledge that eating excess calories from sugar and fat leads to postprandial (following a meal) inflammation, which is thought to function as an insidious promoter of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, obesity, hypertension, asthma, depression, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis and cancer. That's a long list of serious health conditions, all linked to a single culprit: inflammation.
Good Nutrition Is Inexpensive
Lean meat, fish, chicken, fruits, vegetables and nuts form the foundation of a diet that limits a postprandial inflammatory response. This is referred to as an "anti-inflammatory diet." Not surprisingly, this diet is recommended to help prevent the above-mentioned pro-inflammatory diseases, the treatment of which represents a massive drain on financial resources, both personally and for businesses.
A common argument is, "I can't afford to eat lots of fruits and vegetables," or "Healthy foods are expensive." I tend to strongly disagree with these arguments. A cup of coffee and a doughnut can cost up to $5. A 20 oz. bottle of soda costs more than $1. In contrast, a 5-pound bag of frozen carrots, broccoli and cauliflower costs $5 at Sam's Club, and a 1-pound container of pre-washed organic salad greens costs about $4. Both of those items can be consumed over several days by several people.