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Natural Health

This Kitchen Staple Helped Heal One Woman’s Chronic Inflammation


Jennifer Fiore Shimalla winced, rubbed her neck as she put down the jewelry she was making, and decided to forego another day of crafting items to sell for her business. I just can’t work in this pain.

For more than 20 years, Jennifer had been suffering from osteoarthritis, the gradual wearing down of the protective cartilage around the ends of bones, in her feet, back and neck. She had been diagnosed at just 32 years old after an MRI of her neck showed such degeneration in her cartilage, and doctors had suggested immediate surgery.

I can’t fathom that at my age, Jennifer had thought, opting instead for medication to control her pain. But as time passed, her symptoms began to worsen, and soon, doing anything, including exercising, crocheting or even holding her kids, would painfully immobilize her neck. Eventually, the discomfort spread to her lower back, which required a spinal fusion and surgery on her right foot.

But afterward, her doctor shared the grim news that the arthritis in her foot had returned despite the procedure, which meant she’d not only need surgery on her left foot, but a repeat operation on her right foot.

I refuse to face another surgery, Jennifer resolved. There has to be another way to heal.

A Surprising Cure

Over the years, Jennifer had noticed that when she ate inflammatory foods full of salt or sugar, her arthritis pain flared. Though she had tried to eat less of them, now, with new surgeries on the horizon, Jennifer decided to get serious and go on an anti-inflammatory diet.

“I was taking medication before to treat the symptoms… now, I’m going to eat to prevent them entirely,” she told family members. Soon, Jennifer embarked on a new lifestyle, removing salt, sugar and processed carbs from her diet, while increasing her intake of foods rich in antioxidants, like blueberries. In days, she began to see dramatic improvement.

Inspired, she did more research and came across something that studies suggested could help even more: polyphenols.

As Jennifer discovered, polyphenols — micronutrients that naturally occur in plants — are present in foods and spices like turmeric and green tea and can inhibit signaling pathways involved in the process of inflammation. They are also powerful antioxidants that reduce free radicals in the body that exacerbate arthritis pain.

Armed with this knowledge, the 53-year-old started eating more polyphenol-rich foods —one of which was olive oil. A wellness and mindset coach and author, Jennifer knew the benefits of olive oil and already used it in her cooking. But as she researched olive oils high in polyphenols, she discovered extra-virgin olive oil was especially potent to reduce inflammation and decided to incorporate more into her diet. She began taking 1⁄2 tablespoon of Desert Miracle Cold Pressed Polyphenol Rich Moroccan Olive Oil (Buy from Amazon, $25.67) each day as well as the tablespoon or so she used to cook. To Jennifer’s delight, she saw immediate results: softer skin, greater digestive health and, best of all, no more joint pain!

“I can walk two miles with my dogs every morning!” beams Jennifer, who’s been doing her olive oil protocol for eight months. “My joints feel better, and I can see the benef its — inside and out!”

Jennifer Fiore Shimalla
Courtesy of Jennifer Fiore Shimalla

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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