Are You Eating Your Inflammation?


Photo Credit: Fotolia

If you’re in pain, you are inflamed. No question. Inflammation is your body on fire (read more about that in this post on my blog-to-book project site Stop Everyday Pain).  To put out this fire, you need to first of all, stop throwing kindling on the flames. Then find a way to put the fire out altogether – smother it or douse it with water.

One of the things we do to feed the fire of inflammation is to eat things that keep the body chemically irritated and inflamed. What are these things that cause and add to inflammation? Processed foods, preservatives, sugar etc. are all evil but that’s yesterday’s news. Did you know that you might also be stoking the fire of inflammation simply by not eating in a balanced way. We might be eating technically well with all the right whole foods and organic meats and unprocessed naturally packaged snacks, but if the proportions are off, then our acid/base balance is also off and too much acidity is what leads to inflammation.

You’ve all heard of Omega 3 fatty acids. We’re all trying to get more in our diets because of all of the health benefits – one of them being anti-inflammatory. Chickens are even being fed omega 3s so that their eggs can be packaged and labeled as “Omega 3 Eggs”. This seems a little extreme doesn’t it? But this is what it’s come to.

Let’s take a quick look at a couple of important things that are getting overlooked in our crush to gobble up fish oil and flax seed as our main sources of Omega 3 supplementation in our quest for relief from pain and inflammation.

Is Your Fish Oil Making You More Toxic?

First of all, if we mega-dose on Omega 3 oils then there is a possibility that the body will become overwhelmed and unable to properly metabolize the oil via our natural anti-oxidative processes. So, it becomes equally — if not more – important to take in foods that will help with breaking down the inflammatory free-radicals that can accumulate from high doses of Omega 3 supplement sources. If high doses of “good” oils are allowed to accumulate in the body they can pose an inflammatory oxidative stress on our tissues – completely counteracting our good intentions.

Are You Eating More Inflammation-Kindling Than Inflammation-Dousing Food?

Secondly, there needs to be a very important ratio balance between Omega 3 fatty acids and Omega 6 fatty acids. These are both essential to us for survival so we have to eat them – our body does not make them. The problem is that research shows that when we have too many of the Omega 6 variety and not enough of the 3 variety, the result is inflammation and disease. Well, wouldn’t you know it, this is exactly what the average modern diet provides! We are all eating our inflammation by having too much Omega 6 and not enough Omega 3.

If you’re having trouble keeping those two straight you’re not alone. Think: “Omega Three will Set You Free” and whether you’re superstitious or religious or not – you’ve probably heard of the number six associated with “the devil” (666) – well, you can think of Omega 6 as just a little bit (just one third) on the evil side. It’s still important to our health but the 6s are just too easily abundant and tempting.

Here is a really quick over-simplified synopsis of where you find which Omega:

Omega 3 – to “set you free”, you’ll find in one form or another with the following

  1. leafy greens
  2. flax seed or oil
  3. fish

Omega 6 – just a little bit evil, is what you’ll get when you eat the following:

  1. grains
  2. most seeds
  3. vegetables that store energy in the form of seeds like the squashes and some nightshades

The realistic take-away is to do your very best to eat as much from the first group (leafy greens, fish and flax) as you can and just think about it before you stuff yourself with the other.

Some good online sources for more detailed discussion about Omega fatty acids: Dr. Ben Kim’s website and Acupuncturist Chris Kresser’s site

I have no personal or business affiliations with either individual.  I just found their handling of the material to be fair and balance.

Follow along on my blog-to-book site Stop Everyday Pain to discover other unexpected ways we often contribute to the fire of inflammation when we’re in pain.


[i] pH => pain: Bray GE, Ying Z, Baillie LD, Zhai R, Mulligan SJ, Verge VM. Extracellular pH and neuronal depolarization serve as dynamic switches to rapidly mobilize trkA to the membrane of adult sensory neurons. J Neurosci. 2013;33(19):8202-8215. Ugawa S, Ueda T, Ishida Y, Nishigaki M, Shibata Y, Shimada S. Amiloride-blockable acid-sensing ion channels are leading acid sensors expressed in human nociceptors. J Clin Invest. 2002;110(8):1185-1190. Wu WL, Cheng CF, Sun WH, Wong CW, Chen CC. Targeting ASIC3 for pain, anxiety, and insulin resistance. Pharmacol Ther. 2012;134(2):127-138.

[ii] Simopoulos AP. The Importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomed Pharmacother. 2002 Oct;56(8):365-79.

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