To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.
—François de La Rochefoucauld
In The Goddess Lifestyle, Goddesses eat a delicious anti-inflammatory diet. Why? Because inflammation is the root of disease. We Goddesses understand disease prevention lies in our hands, and on our plates, especially when we consider that modern disease epidemics are just that: modern.
- Cancer claimed the lives of just 4% of the population in 1900, and 23% in 2000.
- Heart disease (CVD, heart disease and stroke) was responsible for only 14% of all deaths in 1900, but 37% in 2000.
- The first heart attacks were diagnosed and recorded in 1912 as new phenomena in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
While these were most certainly not the first heart attacks ever to afflict humans, it’s clear rates have increased dramatically since 1912. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out these statistics can’t be accounted for by better disease tracking alone. No missy!
The rate at which heart disease and cancer have skyrocketed in the last hundred years directly overlaps with the shift from food as primarily homemade nourishment to an industrialized, politicized commodity. High-fructose corn syrup, GMOs, the inhumane horrors of commercial agriculture anyone? And then there are less obvious reasons, like
- lowered fat consumption
- too much sugar and starch
- too much omega-6 polyunsaturated fats from plant foods and commercially-raised animal foods.
But I’ll get to all that jazz in future posts.
For now, know that Goddesses eat to turn all this around, knowing food is the key to vibrance and disease prevention. But in order to understand why the (delicious!) foods eaten in The Goddess Lifestyle can help send disease running for the hills, we need to understand what exactly disease is.
At first, this can seem complicated when you think about all the different kinds of disease: obesity, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and so on. But the beautiful thing Goddesses come to realize about the way Nature and biology work is that there are some fundamental ideas that underpin seeming multiplicity and exclusivity. This is the case with the root of disease: it is the result of inflammation—chronic inflammation to be exact.
Granted, inflammation is a necessary and healthy response. It’s how our bodies protect ourselves. Think of how an animal’s scruff poufs up when it’s threatened. Inflammation is kind of like that, a response to some kind of antagonism.
We all experience acute inflammation in our lives, like redness or swelling when we get a cut, a bruise when we bang our knee, fever when we’re sick, or an allergic reaction to, say, pollen. With the exception of a more serious reaction (i.e. an allergic reaction to peanuts or a bee sting), these are generally not life-threatening.
Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is life-threatening. Much like that threatened animal’s scruff, your body isn’t supposed to be poufed up like that nonstop. If your body is, it scrambles to fix the problem however it can, but after some time things give way.
The following things can all antagonize inflammation, which can culminate in various diseases over time:
- chronic stress
- a diet high in processed foods
- processed trans fats
- omega-6 polyunsaturated fats.
Most inflammatory diseases begin in our guts when our immune systems have to repeatedly respond to antagonists. The gut lining is built to be semi-permeable so nutrients can enter our bloodstream and nourish our bodies. But if we are frequently subjected to antagonists, over time the gut lining becomes too permeable, and we don’t digest our food properly, or absorb its nutrients. Undigested food particles then enter our bloodstream through the intestinal wall, along with bacteria, viruses, yeast, and toxins. After a while, the immune system steps in in an attempt to attack the invaders. This is inflammation, which manifests as various allergies and diseases when it becomes chronic.
Goddesses understand foods can and do trigger inflammatory and anti-inflammatory responses in the body, making anti-inflammatory foods a Goddess’s key to health. Of course, there’s a lot of talk about anti-inflammatory foods these days, and a lot of that talk is misguided.
In coming posts, I’ll teach you how to sniff out nutrition hype (‘cause sadly there’s frikin’ tons of it). For now, know Goddesses’ favorite foods are anti-inflammatory—not to mention nutrient-dense, satisfying and tasty!
In my next post, I share a guide that teaches you which foods are key to a nutrient-dense anti-inflammatory diet–check it out!
Adapted from Erika Herman’s bestselling book, Eat Like a Fatass, Look Like a Goddess: The Untold Story of Healthy Foods.
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1 “Quarterly Surveillance Report: The Epidemiologic Transition and the Prevalence of Cancer.” Montana Cancer Control Section. October 2006. http://leg.mt.gov/content/committees/interim/2007_2008/environmental_quality_council/meetings/minutes/eqc01152008_ex13.pdf