Inflammation: the Good, the Bad and the Painful

By Katie Tallent

Massage therapists have a built in compassion bone.  We listen to what ails our clients and love partnering in their healing.  We offer our hands, hearts and knowledge.  Imagine waking up on a morning no different than today, looking into the mirror before work or school and discovering one side of your face is paralyzed; expressionless, flat, with a sense of heaviness and numbness.  A friend of mine, Jonathan Shuffield, had a similar experience recently and recognized his symptoms immediately as Bell’s Palsy; a condition he battled 13 years prior.  It is caused by the same virus as chicken pox and shingles.  An inflammation of the cranial nerve VII causes pain behind the ear and sensitivity to sound along with the inability to taste food.

7 days into his journey Jonathan reflects on the choices that brought him to such a humbling fight with his own body:

“I have been a horrible offender against my body for years, even decades.  I refused to hear the gentle nudges, “Jonathan, you’re working too hard, your blood pressure is rising.” “Jonathan that food will make you sick, I can’t process the sugar like I used to.” “Jonathan, you are going to get sick if you don’t slow down.” It kept knocking, BANGING on my door and I kept moving, like a petulant two year old determined to do what I wanted.  My body has tried to give me numerous wake up calls. I have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and a litany of other smaller issues.  Did I stop to listen to my body? Nope, not for a second.”  (to read more:

Perhaps Bell’s Palsy is not the battle you or I may fight.  It could be the lifelong daily struggle of rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia.  Inflammation in our body wreaks havoc, causing pain and dysfunction and ultimately a lack of quality of life where we should have fullness of life.  What our body is brilliantly designed to do, protect and heal, becomes our enemy.  Admittedly I have abused my own body and shown a lack of respect for its systems, beautiful healing abilities and ultimately its sanctity.  Jonathan’s struggle causes me to reflect and his action inspires me.

4 Ways we can acknowledge our bodies as sacred: 

  1. Protecting ourselves against stress by setting healthy relationship and work boundaries.
  2. How we move, both actively with exercise and passively with therapeutic massage-
  3. How we breathe, through meditation and prayer.
  4. And what we eat is as important as what we don’t eat.

3 Foods which increase inflammation:

  1. Sugar is sugar!  Your body sees very little difference between refined sugar, sugar in the raw and raw cane sugar.  Even if it is labeled as natural or organic, our bodies process it the same.
  2. Gluten plays hide and seek!  Remember that research is your best friend.  Gluten can be found in the most unexpected places under the guise of natural flavorings and anti-clumping agents in products such as shredded cheese.  Even when you order that grilled chicken breast at a fast food restaurant you may encounter this inflammation encourager.
  3. Beef, it’s what’s NOT for dinner!  Red meat and processed meats contain the compound Neu5Gc.  Our bodies produce an antibody to this agent producing long term, underlying inflammation.  This is where heart disease and cancer run rampant.

Now that I have criticized your eating habits please accept these alternatives to promote your own health and wellness!

4 Foods which fight Inflammation:

 1Turmeric and Ginger

Creamy Turmeric TeaChá contra a constipação: água gengibre ralado (uma colher de café) cravinho casca de limão  pau de canela e no final de ferver: algumas gotas de limão e mel para quem quiser

1 cup almond milk

½ tsp turmeric

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp honey

¼ tsp ginger

Directions: Heat the almond milk in a microwave, stir in the spices and drizzle the honey on top. Enjoy!

2.  Fatty Fish, being from Alaska you can probably guess my favorite!

Moroccan SalmonSwitch the sugar for honey and cinnamon!! Caramelized Salmon by pinchofyum #Salmon #Healthy

½ cup low-fat plain yogurt

Juice of 1 lemon

1 Tbs olive oil

3 cloves garlic smashed

1 ½ tsp ground coriander

1 ½ tsp ground cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

4 6oz salmon filets

Combine ingredients for marinade adding salmon filets and let rest for 30 min in refrigerator.  Remove salmon from marinade and blot off excess yogurt.  Heat grill med-high, cook turning once.  4-6 min per side. (Olive oil and garlic also fight inflammation)

Also add to your weekly diet:Natural and Alternative Home Remedies for Bell’s Palsy

1. Nuts are packed with antioxidants helping your body fight off and repair damage caused by inflammation in as little as 6 weeks.  Be a hippie and make homemade granola!

2. Tomatoes and Tai Chi have been shown to reduce stiffness, fatigue and pain.  Rx: twice a week for 2 week and you will see a difference.

Tell us!  What foods will you add to your diet to reduce inflammation and what foods will you kick to the curb?

I encourage you to following this link and watch the video blog by a friend, who has inspired and taught me much though his experience.  I hope his story will inspire a thirst for knowledge in your work also, for people suffering from inflammatory illness.

Special thanks to Jonathan Shuffield for his video blog and “Self is Sacred” blog contribution.


32 thoughts on “Inflammation: the Good, the Bad and the Painful”

  1. I suffer from fibromyalgia and during bad times, I can become so inflamed that I have gained 14 lbs. I cut out beef and breads and found the amount of inflammation that I experience to be much less.

  2. Diets are hard to do, but once you face the risks that you are putting your body through is when you make it the priority of what to eat and not eat. Cutting out soda from my everyday meal will help my diet. As well as red meats. Is hard to brake a habit that you have develop for years, but once you see the benifts you will fight for it.

  3. Good blog I am doing my best to eat dark leafy greens in my diet without dressing, and I have found that it can be done. I have had pet rabbits that loved the stuff natural, they could not get enough. I am taking my cue from them, I am going to try the salmon recipe looks tasty.

    1. I would cut out cookies cakes and alot of pastas and try to eat more whole foods like vegies and small portions of meats and fruits try to eat more healthier

  4. It’s hard to stick to a good diet, but it is possible. if you think you just can’t eat healthy, It’s all in your mind. You’re not battling against your body, but your battling against your mind. Yes, when you first start you are going to be hungry, but stick with it for a couple of weeks and just see how increasingly easy it becomes. And then see how much better you feel, not only mentally because you were able to have self-control but physically because your body is consuming healthy foods. thank you Katie for such a great blog.

  5. I’ve been slowly trying to alter the diet in my household. It has been rather difficult to get rid of the meat and potatoes mentality that men in this region of the country end to hold on to

  6. Wow I read this and thought to myself I don’t respect my body like I should what’s wrong with that I should listens to my body this has helped a lot thanks

  7. I have been doing a lot of research and thinking on this very subject. I have had life long problems with my health and I have only recently started to think that is because of the way I was taught to eat growing up. All of my life we raised our own cattle so red meat is always the staple of any meal. Only recently have I started to take my eating choices seriously. I have been slowly switching over to more of a vegetable and fish based diet. I have cut out sugary drinks and try to limit my lactose intake to the occasional treat of ice cream or chocolate milk. I hope that I can continue to make the subtle changes and start to see some benefits from them soon!

    PS. I love tomatoes! So eating them wasnt a problem at all for me!

  8. It has to be a complete change of life style! You have to decide if your going to live a long healthy life or a miserable possibly shorter on!

  9. I’m going to try to eat less red meats and drink more water. Also i’m going to try to add more fruits and veggies to my diet. Thanks for the recipes!

  10. Start adding healthy whole foods into your regular diet and over time you will naturally begin to want the healthy options and leave the rest behind. I think this approach sets the individual up for success versus the traditional ‘dieting’ paradigm.

  11. I Drink a lot of protein shakes that i’ve been making for a couple of years now and i throw in a good amount of protein and fruits, like a tablespoon of peanut butter, Protein shake mix you get from GNC Nutrition stores, Bananas, and milk. Keeps my diet healthy and increases my workout performance.

  12. This is just the story I needed to hear. I used to never listen to my body but lately been thinking about what i am not doing for it. So trying something new. I am trying to cut out junk food and pop also trying to cut out cheese. Up my intake on water and learn to relax more. I also plan getting back into exercising, was in Pilates for a while then quit I noticed a difference when I quit. So I am going back to it. Thank you Katie.

  13. We only get one body, why not respect it and take care of it! I think there is a bit of an art to listening to our bodies and many don’t take the time like your friend found himself doing-or not doing. I’ve tried to limit soda, chips, and chocolate in my grocery shopping cart. If it’s not in the house, there is a good chance I won’t be eating it! My daughter has been on a gluten free diet before so I’ve seen how to limit that bread and pasta intake. I don’t think it is fore everyone. I like salmon and have tried kale for the first time this past year-any recipes for kale Katie!? Balance and moderation are key. Interesting blog!

    1. 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
      4 ounces sliced pancetta, diced
      1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
      1/4 cup pure maple syrup
      1/4 teaspoon salt
      1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
      1 small head radicchio, shredded
      1 8-ounce bunch kale, stems discarded, leaves shredded
      2 tart yet sweet apples, sliced into thick matchsticks
      3/4 cup pecans, toasted if desired

      Combine the olive oil and pancetta in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until pancetta is golden and crispy. Strain the pan drippings into a small bowl and leave the crispy pancetta off to the side to cool. Add the Champagne vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper and whisk well.
      Combine the radicchio, kale, apples and pecans in a large bowl. Toss while adding the dressing, little by little, until salad is well dressed. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Garnish with crispy pancetta.

  14. I have always had a big problem with eating too much sugar. Also, many of my friends have gluten allergies and have had very strict diets for some time. Many of them have said they feel a huge difference from before. I do not have a gluten allergy but I have considered trying to rid my diet of gluten to see if it will make me feel better.
    Thank you for the recipes. I really want to try the tea.

  15. I might try that creamy Tumeric Tea, I imagine it as a warm and cozy drink.

    Flour or Corn Syrup are in at least 3/4th of all items in a grocery store causing an unaware over consumption of gluten and sugar, causing a myriad of health issue that plagues many people’s lives in the united states; cutting out all foods with either of those two ingredients will make quite a positive change for most people as this will also cut out consumption of a large range of chemicals and extensively denatured foods.

  16. It’s so important to be aware of of your putting into your body. Every time you eat your either helping your body or hurting it. It’s scary that they put so many things like GMOs , pesticides,and preservatives in our food. Some of which do not require labeling. Last year tulsa added chloramine to the water,and it can’t even be filtered out with a normal water filter. You need to be as educated as possible when it comes to your food and water.

  17. I honestly don’t know if I can give up my beef! I was born and raised on in and that would be a tough one and I’m pretty sure my whole family would think I had lapost my mind if I turned down meat at the dinner table. I love the idea of eating healthily but sticking to it is another deal, I really like food.

  18. For about 2-3 years I’ve been “living in the raw” by that I mean I try to consume as much raw organic food as possible. Even raw fish is included in my diet ( I just wish it didn’t have to be frozen & shipped all the way to Oklahoma) But A easy step to avoid sugar is to replace sugary drinks to tea and to avoid cancer foods like pork is to switch to seafood or vegan foods. Last, switching your diet and including some meditation time will reduces stress and increase your energy .

  19. I think the tea sounds interesting, and I am defiantly willing to try it. To reduce stress I work out, I go do something. I run, lift weights, but what I really like to do is stretch. I reduce my stress with stretching by focusing on my muscles and my breathing. I have been trying to change my eating habits to more organic foods and switch my drinks up to put healthier products into my body. I have been experimenting with aloe vera water lately, and i have really enjoyed it so far.

  20. I like this because it hopefully will help you to listen to your body and do not over exert yourself if you feel like something is wrong. Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of Inflammation and know what to do in an emergency situation. If you love tea make a habit to drink tea everyday so as to help either alleviate or lessen the pain your experiencing and if it works keep doing that forever. Listen to your body and you can never go wrong.

  21. Tomatoes and tai chi… Sounds like an item from a California restaurant! Great blog, love the tips thrown in here.

  22. Not too long ago I cut out all animal products and for that week (yes just a week, I know) I felt a big difference. I had more energy and wanted to move around. I found that I wasn’t as tired as I had been or as lazy. I also found that I slept better. I know that if I were to go back to that and throw in a little exercise I’d be on the road to even greater health. Thanks for all the little tips though. This blog really does help and makes me want to do some research!

  23. Fantastic read and very informative . Thanks for the delicious recipes , too. I will most definitely be sharing this article .