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You might be starved: chronic inflammation and autoimmune reactivity

Farmers' market bounty, photo by Mat Hampson, Flickr

A diet of nutrient-rich foods can help reduce chronic inflammation and improve autoimmune reactivity. Photo: Mat Hampson, Flickr

The result of modern-day starvation is that, while we may eat more calories than ever, we metabolize little, gain insufficient nutrition, store extra fat, and trigger states of chronic inflammation and autoimmune reactivity. 

This week I’ll touch on the topic of modern-day starvation… one of the negative aspects of our modern condition. Total Life Cleanse delves deeply into this topic and offers practical life-affirming practices to offset modern-day starvation caused by the consumption of empty calories and toxic foods.

You might be starved: chronic inflammation and autoimmune reactivity

How can we be starved today, even in wealthy countries such as the United States?

Nutritional deficiency in the foods we eat

Unfortunately, this question is too easy to answer. By consistently choosing foods that are toxic, allergenic, and nutritionally worthless, we literally starve our cells and increase inflammation. Inflamed cells and intestines make it more difficult for the body to absorb and utilize nutrients.

Sadly, nutritional paucity isn’t limited to processed foods. Much of the fruits and vegetables we find in grocery stores do not have the same nutritional quality that they once might have had due to the poor quality of the soil they were grown in. Modern farming practices that depend on chemical fertilizers have severely depleted minerals in the soil— and soil lacking in minerals produces crops that lacks them as well.

At the same time, hybridization practices have led to fruits and veggies that may look wonderful on the outside but have little nutritional value or taste. The processed foods that fill grocery store shelves are formulated in a laboratory with the primary intention of captivating the taste buds. Such foods are mostly stripped of their nutrients and laden with chemicals. Growing research (and common sense) shows that many chemicals, colorants, preservatives, and other additives commonly found in processed foods are toxic endocrine disruptors and not safe for human consumption.

Toxins in our food cause malfunctions in our digestive system and increase rates of disease

In fact, it is likely that these toxins in our foods directly relate to the increasing rates of autoimmune disease and cancer. When we choose foods that stress our body, we eventually weaken the power of our gastrointestinal system. When this occurs, we see a decrease in our ability to properly assimilate nutrients and use them.

In other words, we become starved. When our gastrointestinal system is functioning properly, it breaks down nutrients into manageable bits, and in the intestines, they pass into the bloodstream on their way to the liver. In people with an impaired digestive tract, larger molecules—undigested proteins, heavy metals, bacteria, fungi, and parasites—can slip through the mesh-like lining of the intestines into the bloodstream and can even bypass the blood-brain barrier.

This unappealing condition is called “leaky gut.” Uninvited invaders in the blood trigger a “red alert” reaction from the immune system, and it galvanizes its forces to attack what it perceives as pathogens. When this happens on a regular basis, chronic autoimmune conditions develop. The immune system gets stuck on hyperdrive, commonly manifesting as multiple food intolerances. Eventually, a specific tissue, gland, or organ, such as the thyroid, will be attacked. This scenario can also lead to chronic brain malfunction, manifesting as forgetfulness, brain fog, depression, ADHD, and more serious brain disorders.

 

Depleted soils produce nutrient-deficient crops

“A nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself.”
—Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Conventional agro-industrial farming practices deplete soils of carbon and nutrients

Large-scale industrial agriculture has some major drawbacks. To begin, there are valid concerns regarding the use of pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, hormones, genetic modifications, and synthetic fertilizers. Additionally, the produce from industrial farms often has lower levels of micro- and macro-nutrients compared to produce coming from organic and biodynamic farms.

Just as we have beneficial bacteria in our gut, soil has a vast diversity of beneficial microorganisms that maintain fertility, combat pathogens and pests, and support plant growth. Industrial synthetic fertilizers deplete carbon from the soil, which the beneficial microbes need to thrive, thereby reducing microbial density and diversity. Over time, the loss of carbon in the soil significantly reduces soil fertility.

 

Organic farming supports healthy soils which yield more nutritionally robust crops

But there are better ways! Organic farming practices support soil-enhancing microbial diversity, and as a result are better for human and environmental health than conventional agriculture. Organic produce has been shown to be free of many of the toxic chemicals found in conventionally grown produce, and to be more nutritious.

Earth is a big planet with an ever-increasing population, and there is a common assumption that wide-scale organic farming is not capable of feeding the entire planet. Compelling data shows that is not the case.

I’ll write about that on another day.

Improve your health with a Winter (Recovery) Total Life Cleanse

In the meantime, join us for our special Winter (Recovery) Total Life Cleanse beginning on January 23, 2018. For the first time, it will be presented in virtual format so that everyone from everywhere can attend. We’ll learn what we can do to offset modern-day starvation with life-affirming practices that support good health.

And read the book, Total Life Cleanse, available in bookstores on January 30, 2018.

Jonathan Glass, M.Ac.
Ayurvedic Practitioner


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