Professional blogger Dena Kouremetis was on hand for my latest wellness class held this past Monday at Whole Foods in Sacramento.
Nutritionist Pamela Spencer Explains Health Advantages of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
By Dena Kouremetis
Inflammation. It is generally thought of as the body’s response to pain, such as heat, redness, swelling, pain and even the loss of organ function. But that’s just one type of inflammation. The kind few of us know about is the real culprit: cellular inflammation — now considered the cause of many chronic diseases because of the way it disrupts hormonal levels throughout the body. Many experts agree that it is the root of most body evils, connecting dots we never knew existed.
Conscious Living’s Pamela Spencer, known for her up-close-and-personal approach to wellness, weight loss, illness prevention and beyond, recently conducted a riveting evening class titled “The Power of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet” at Sacramento’s Whole Foods Market located on Arden Way. Spencer’s sell-out Wellness Class regularly attract people of all age groups and from all food education levels, and this night was no exception.
Said one participant, when asked what she expected to learn about over the next ninety minutes, “I took a class last month on preventing cardiovascular disease and I learned the plaque is considered dynamite. It doesn’t do anything until inflammation causes it to explode. So when this class came up, I couldn’t keep myself away.”
Personally speaking, my husband and I had been reading up on healthy eating, weight loss and cardiac health. Perusing information online and collecting books on the topic while fanatically reading the labels of everything we ate, we became bombarded by the news of how American food manufacturers had strayed so far from what healthy eating used to be about that we felt there was little left for us to do than go back to basics – namely organic foods. This seminar, however, was to confirm that it was sugar – and the fats that turn into sugar – that must be treated like the enemy, and that a huge variety of food we had been eating most of our lives were indeed inflammatory in nature.
“I am surprised at the number of people who don’t get the connection between what they eat and how they feel,” says Spencer. She went on to describe the causes of inflammation, identified a host of pro- inflammatory foods, what an anti-inflammatory diet looks like, and which fats are pro-inflammatory and which fats are anti-inflammatory and how they impact your health.
Throughout the evening, Spencer displayed slide after slide of Omega-6 fat-laden “culprit” foods – most of which we have all come to know and love. Some are more obvious than others, such as dressings, margarine, mayonnaise and soybean and vegetable oils. Others are in stealth mode: things you wouldn’t think were enemies, such as canola oil, rapeseed oil, corn oil, and sunflower oil. “The brutal truth is that getting the Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats is a balancing act,” says Spencer. “The wrong balance contributes to inflammation at a cellular level. Most Americans are eating 25 times MORE Omega-6 fats than what is healthy. The healthiest ratio is 1:3: one Omega-3 fat for every three Omega-6 fats you take in.”
Participants also learned about how heat changes the chemical composition of foods, how anything that is genetically modified can be made into an addictive substance (thus making us buy MORE of the things labeled “low fat”, yet resulting in weight gain), and the importance of dark, leafy vegetables in a healthy diet. Also covered were the types of antioxidant, phyto-nutrient foods that aid in dampening the inflammatory response – foods such as turmeric and garlic. She emphasized the importance of including as many foods as we can find that look like they did when they were growing in nature with the exception of “nightshade” foods (potatoes, yams, and tomatoes, red peppers and eggplant) for people who have autoimmune issues.
By the end of the evening, Attendees walked away with a new appreciation for the food “lifestyle” changes they need to make to achieve better health. “I thought it was fabulous and very helpful,” said Catherine Mitchell. “I’m actually a client of Pamela’s and she has helped me tremendously. She completely changed my diet, and believe it or not, I had worked in the natural food industry for years. What I was doing wasn’t working for me. I had had five sinus surgeries and by changing my diet I have completely improved my health. I’m even training for a marathon now!”
“I have been working with Pamela for awhile too, and with the changes I’ve made, I am sleeping better, I have a lot more energy and feel more alive. I’ve noticed a big change in myself after I got serious about eliminating certain foods from my diet,” said participant Roseanne Bishop.
Yolanda Flores was among the last to leave, lingering for more conversation with the evening’s presenter. “What I found most interesting is when Pamela described how getting to the point of feeling full is not a good thing, and that it can cause a huge spike in insulin levels that can take up to three days to normalize again.”
For more information about Pamela Spencer’s signature wellness classes, visit her www.sacnutritionist.com or email or call her at (916) 996-6098. She holds a variety of classes, many with live food prep, giving attendees practical, inexpensive ways to get healthy and stay healthy through a healthy diet.
Dena Kouremetis is Folsom, CA-based veteran consumer blogger and columnist