On his way to feed cattle, my husband beeps his tractor as he passes by our home these mornings. It’s his way of letting me know he’s thinking of me.
One of my patients, who is trying hard to prepare more meals at home and eat at Mickey D’s less frequently, reports that she is feeling lighter and less bloated these days, indicating that her body is adapting to her new habits.
We are surrounded by signals. Some, such as traffic signals, serve to safeguard us. Others, like road signs, steer us in the proper direction. When we follow their instructions, life flows more smoothly. And when we don’t, we pay the price.
Signals can also motivate or prompt us to change our behavior. In my own life, I can attest to this. I’m certain that a higher number on my bathroom scale correlates with more frequent bites from the M & M jar on my kitchen counter.
According to new research, our eating choices may even cause our bodies to feel more or less pain. Here’s how it works: Inflammation arises when the body is wounded or hurts in any manner. Inflammation, in turn, causes discomfort.
Some food ingredients reduce inflammation, while others increase it. In other words, researchers now believe that the foods we eat can help or hurt us with conditions including migraine headaches, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and bursitis.
Fish and walnuts, for example, have anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats that send out signals to lower inflammation. People who eat a lot of vegetables and fruits, especially berries and cherries, can help their bodies be less irritated.
On the other hand, foods like my beloved M & M’s, which are high in saturated fat and sugar, may, on the other hand, contribute to chronic pain. Darn.
So, how about beef? A recent study reported an increase in several inflammatory markers in volunteers who ate eight ounces of beef every day for 32 days. However, they found less of other inflammatory signals, which suggests that pain and inflammation may be lessened.
This entails exactly what we’ve suspected all along. Diets that comprise a well-balanced assortment of foods consumed in moderation are the healthiest. To put it another way, my prized M & Ms are a treat, not a meal. And we need to keep eating vegetables alongside our lean beef, fish, chicken, and other high-protein meals.
Remember that the effect of one’s overall eating habits has the greatest long-term impact on one’s health. A carrot-only diet is no better for us than a steak-only diet.
The most enduring health advantages come from the amazing combination of nutrients from a wide variety of foods. And that is the most important indication of all.