Diet-induced proinflammatory state, or why my body hates me

Ok, so over the past um.. forever, my body has a had a range of problems, generally small, that at this point are putting a serious damper on my wallet and my social life.  I get sick only occaisionally, but when I do, I get SICK.  Like, strep throat for 6 straight months, or sustained fever above 103 for weeks for no apparent reason.  Or, idiopathic optic neuritis (a major risk factor for multiple sclerosis), chronic dry eye, and an allergy to my contact lenses.  Lots of random stuff, none of it especially terrible all by itself, but together…  expensive.  Keeping me from playing frisbee, among other things.

So, today I had a follow up appointment with my optometrist for the dry eyes bit.  The lacrimal plugs didn’t do much, so he prescribed me some eye drops that should stimulate tear production.  To the tune of a couple hundred dollars a month, as there is no generic.  He also asked me a lot of questions about my diet and stress levels.  I’ve always thought my diet, while not stellar, is certainly acceptably healthy.  I don’t eat McDonalds, as a rule (though I was forced to while at the hospital while my nephew was making his debut – and it was NASTY), I don’t eat excessively, I generally eat meals prepared from basic ingredients rather than processed stuff.  But, you know, I had a reese’s peanut butter cup for breakfast this morning.  And yesterday I didn’t eat any fruit.  So, not that great.

So, my optometrist started talking about a “proinflammatory diet”, and I admit I sort of started to tune out.  I mean, I’m healthy!  I’m athletic!  I’m smart – I’m a toxicologist, and I don’t need to hear about this cockamamie hippie bullshit.  But, wait – the little wheels in my little stressed out brain started turning, and the overarching message was this: listen.

And so I listened.  And took notes.  And ran home, and started reading primary literature.  And, and, and: it makes sense.  Just because my diet is better than most Americans’ doesn’t mean it is the best diet I could have.  I eat too much meat and not enough veggies and fruits.  I eat more sweets than I ought to, though I eat less than many people.  I love bread, and pasta, and generally anything made from grains.  And scientifically, I know all about the benefits of high intake of omega-3 fatty acids versus omega-6.  I know why, physiologically, the former are great, and the latter suck – omega-6 FAs are used in inflammatory processes.  Being in a constantly inflamed state can lead to all sorts of shit: degenerative diseases, heart disease, cancer.  So why won’t I eat an effing orange instead of that reeses cup?

I think it comes down to accountability.  So, even though this road is fraught with the dangers of mild exercise bulimia if I start doing the calorie thing, I think I’m going to start recording my food intake.   The quality rather than the quantity, because my weight isn’t the issue.  The issue is the constant, basal level of discomfort I am in every day, even the best days.  The issue is that I can’t wear my damn contacts long enough to go to the gym, much less play frisbee or go on a date with my husband.  The issue is the amount of money I spend on medicine and doctors visits.  If I can prevent that through my diet… well, I barely like food anyway, so why not eat things that are good for me instead of whatever seems least unpalatable at any particular moment?  I mean, if I could opt to take a pill every morning that would give me all the perfect nourishment for the day, but couldn’t have a single meal after that, I would.  But, I can’t.  So I will try this instead.

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3 Responses to Diet-induced proinflammatory state, or why my body hates me

  1. Jess says:

    This sounds like a really good idea. I hope it works! Please do keep us posted! And I’d be curious to see excerpts of the food diary if you don’t mind sharing.

  2. Bellwether says:

    It’s nice to have a little reality check every now and then that just because you’re doing well, doesn’t mean you couldn’t be doing better!

    I hope it works out for you.

  3. Alice says:

    i’m with jess – i have sort of a vague idea which foods are good and which are better, but specific example would be lovely :-)

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