With the rise in chronic illnesses like autoimmunity and symptoms such as fatigue and brain fog, it's important we understand how certain foods can undermine our health.
For me, this understanding came the hard way when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2005. This diagnosis completely altered the trajectory of my life.
Despite being prescribed an immunosuppressant medication for 15 years, I experienced an alarming 20 relapses that left permanent damage to my brain and spinal cord.
In 2018, my battle with debilitating brain fog and fatigue reached its breaking point, forcing me to resign from my corporate job as an analyst. It was at this desperate juncture that I reluctantly turned to diet as a means to potentially restore my health.
To my astonishment, within just three months of adopting an anti-inflammatory diet, my fatigue and brain fog disappeared, and I felt like myself again for the first time in years.
Driven by my personal transformative experience, I embarked on extensive research to unravel the reasons behind the profound impact of food on our well-being.
This quest led me to explore the works of leading functional medicine practitioners from around the world, unearthing the remarkable links between our dietary choices and the rising tide of chronic illness.
Before receiving a chronic illness diagnosis, our bodies often provide warning signs of inflammation and distress. These symptoms can manifest as weight gain, migraines, headaches, acid reflux, digestive issues, and joint pain—common experiences many of us have encountered.
However, if we persist in consuming inflammatory foods, our bodies eventually reach a threshold, leading to systemic inflammation and often a more serious diagnosis.
Today, as the Director Everheal, I am dedicated to sharing these insights with others, empowering them to naturally enhance their energy levels and regain control of their health.
Unveiling the Culprits: 5 Foods Which Could Hijack Your Health
1. Gluten: Silent Intruder: Gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, poses digestive challenges for individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. However, it can also trigger inflammation in 70-80% of people without such conditions.
Gluten is notorious for its difficulty in digestion. It causes damage to the gut lining, leading to “leaky gut” and a heightened immune response, often resulting in symptoms like fatigue and brain fog.
Instead of gluten, try gluten-free grains like quinoa, buckwheat, or brown rice into your diet. These grains provide essential nutrients without the detrimental effects of gluten.
2. Dairy: The Double-Edged Sword: Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yoghurt, have long been touted as essential sources of calcium and other nutrients. However, dairy can also present challenges for a some people, making it a double-edged sword when it comes to our health.
Dairy products, particularly cow's dairy, can present challenges for around 80% of individuals, particularly lactose intolerance, an inability to digest lactose (milk sugar). Moreover, dairy contains casein, a protein known to trigger inflammation and exacerbate symptoms such as fatigue and brain fog.
You could explore plant-based milk options such as almond, rice or coconut. These alternatives not only offer a range of flavours but also eliminate the inflammation-triggering proteins found in cow's milk.
3. Sugar: The Sweet Saboteur: The excessive consumption of sugar poses significant health concerns due to its role in inflammation and the development of chronic diseases. When we consume sugar, our blood sugar levels spike, triggering the release of insulin to regulate them.
Over time, this constant demand for insulin can lead to insulin resistance and chronic inflammation. Moreover, a high intake of sugar can disrupt the delicate balance of gut bacteria, contributing to fatigue and brain fog.
To satisfy your sweet tooth, opt for natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or stevia instead of refined sugar. These alternatives provide the sweetness without causing the same level of inflammation and disruption to your body's systems.
4. Processed Foods: The Convenience Trap. In our fast-paced lives, processed foods have become a convenient and alluring option for many. However, these foods, often laden with unhealthy fats, refined carbohydrates and artificial additives, are said to contribute to 95% of all chronic disease.
Consuming processed foods can increase chronic inflammation, weight gain and markedly increases our risk of chronic illness. Furthermore, the lack of essential nutrients in processed foods can contribute to fatigue and brain fog.
To escape the convenience trap of processed foods, prioritise whole, unprocessed options. Fill your plate with a vibrant array of vegetables, fruits, grass-fed proteins and whole grains.
Try cooking simple meals from scratch, to ensure a healthier, nutrient-dense diet. Here’s one of my favourite salad recipes to get you started: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VIqCutPVaCMOjaRCdzfEmA2j-xnfola9/view?usp=sharing
5. Alcohol: The Silent Deteriorator: While moderate alcohol consumption can be enjoyed without major consequences, excessive or frequent intake can have detrimental effects on our health.
Alcohol is a known inflammatory agent, causing “leaky gut” and chronic alcohol use can lead to liver damage, disrupted sleep patterns, impaired cognitive function and increased fatigue and brain fog.
When it comes to alcohol, practise mindful drinking and explore healthier alternatives. Replace alcoholic beverages with herbal teas, infused water, or sparkling water with a splash of fresh fruit juice.
Engage in activities that promote relaxation and stress reduction, such as yoga or meditation, to find healthier coping mechanisms.