When you hear the word “inflammation”, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? It might be having a cut or scrape that gets red and puffy, or maybe aches and pains in your joints and muscles. Oftentimes, we don’t associate inflammation with the things we deal with everyday like headaches, digestive issues, and feeling tired.
Inflammation is one of the root cause of many diseases, but also the reason behind the little nagging symptoms we deal with on a daily basis. If we focus on reducing inflammation, we can improve our overall health. It doesn’t require any of the conventional advice of calorie counting, exercising more, or measuring macros. Thankfully, the recommendations I’m going to make are more realistic and sustainable. Woohoo! These are changes you can implement slowly, over time, but also stick to so that you’re doing things everyday reduce inflammation and promote health. Basically, a win-win-win.
What does inflammation look like?
Think of inflammation as your immune system’s response that is essential to defend your body against everything like viruses, bacteria and toxins from food and the environment. If you’re sick, your body is managing the sickness with inflammation. If you get injured, your body manages the injury with inflammation. It’s essential for recovery, but the problem is when it’s long term and systemic. Low-grade, chronic inflammation can lead to symptoms that you never had before — enter: the excuse of “getting old” or chalking it up to genetics.
If you struggle with allergies, digestive issues, chronic fatigue, eczema, asthma, migraines, hormone imbalances, or autoimmune disease, your body is likely dealing with some level of inflammation. Chronic diseases that are on the rise in today’s world (that we didn’t deal with centuries ago) like diabetes, cancer, Alzheimers, and heart disease and can also link back to inflammation. One very important point to note is that lowering inflammation means improving the immune system, and a solid immune system is an obvious key to staying healthy.
While there is no one-size-fits-all diet, most people can’t argue the benefits of eating foods that are anti-inflammatory, while removing the ones that contribute to inflammation and a suppressed immune system.
I’m going to talk about the causes of inflammation and how to reduce it.
So first, what causes inflammation? It’s likely not just one thing, but a combination of factors that can add up over time that lead to the symptoms — the ones we say are apart of getting older or are just normal and we have to deal.
- Food – the biggest ones that promote inflammation are:
- Corn and soybean oils
- Pasteurized dairy
- Refined carbohydrates
- Conventional meat
- Trans fats
- Stress – in all forms, causes a release of hormones that attempt to manage inflammation, but over time causes other imbalances as well. This includes the good and bad stress such as
- Digestive issues – this is a lot of work for the body and puts more stress on it
- Marriage or divorce
- Moving to a new house or city
- Sitting in traffic daily
- Eating while in a rush
- Being go-go (even if you don’t feel stressed) – your body is “running on adrenaline”
- Exercise – overexercing AND underexercising. Certain exercises can also cause more stress on the body like high intensity bootcamps day after day.
- Not enough sleep
- Toxins – from the environment, what you put on your body, and what you put in your body. Toxins can come from
- Household and skin care items
- Factory-raised animals
Simply by taking these things away, you’ll notice a difference. But, beyond that, taking daily action to calm inflammation will help you to feel better than you can imagine.
Here are a few of the steps you can take to calm inflammation.
- Eat healthy fats like coconut oil, butter, and ghee. If you’re still on the saturated fats are bad boat, check out this article. Incorporating healthy fats with every meal can strengthen the immune system, suppress inflammation, and provide the brain with energy. They also help with the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K which are all fat-soluble, meaning you need fat to absorb them. Nature is smart
- Remove processed oils and unhealthy fats. If you can just make one change today, this would be it. Throw out canola oil, margarine, vegetable oil, Pam sprays, and anything that is highly processed. If you need an oil that is liquid at room temperature, use avocado or olive oil and make sure you only heat them to low temperatures.
- Remove processed sugars and choose grains wisely. The processed sugars are more obvious and can be cut out by removing. Grains are best absorbed when soaked and sprouted.
- Drink bone broth. This drink is getting a lot of attention and for good reason. The collagen, gelatin, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous make this a nutrient dense, mineral-rich superfood. It calms inflammation, supports the immune system and therefore helps to alleviate cold and flu symptoms. It also helps to improve digestion, which is important not only for making you feel better but also because constantly being in digestive distress means more inflammation within the body.
- Eat probiotic rich foods. Less inflammation in the gastrointestinal system means less inflammation throughout the whole body. The majority of our immune system is located in the gut, so it makes sense to ensure that there is more good bacteria than bad. Fermented foods help to increase the good bcteria the repair and reduce inflammation.
- Get 8 hours of restful deep sleep consistently. Even just one night of not enough sleep puts our body under stress and increases inflammation. This means strong cravings the next day as your body struggles to regulate blood sugar, the obvious fatigue, chronic headaches, and reaching for more sugar which, as we know increases inflammation as well. This is an essential time for the body to rest and repair. You can be eating all the healthiest foods, but if you’re only getting 5 hours of sleep a night, your body will still be under constant inflammation.
- Drink coffee and caffeine strategically. Caffeine can cause a stress response in the body, which might be helpful for a short boost of energy and focus. But, if you’re already under stress or you’re drinking coffee constantly to keep you going, you’re adding fuel to the fire. Try to limit to just 8oz a day, then switch to a decaf alternative.
- Exercise the right amount. Underexercising and overexercising are both stressors on the body. This is when you have to really listen to your body. You should feel energized both during and especially after a workout. If you’re more tired after a workout, and you come home exhausted with zero energy for the rest of the day, this is a sign that your body is struggling. Lifting weights, running 5 miles a day, going to bootcamps, spinning, etc. but if your body is under inflammation in other areas (from diet, stress, digestive problems) then working out is just one more thing for it to try to handle.
- Keep your blood sugar stable. This is a source of inflammation that we don’t think about often. If you’re eating only carbohydrates and sugar all day long without enough protein and healthy fat to balance it out, your body is going to be working hard to keep your blood sugar from getting too high or dropping too low. Oatmeal for breakfast, yogurt for snack, sandwich for lunch, smoothie for snack, and pasta might sound healthy, but it sends your body on a blood sugar roller coaster.
- Calm with magnesium. It’s really hard to get enough magnesium just from food with the depletion of soil in most countries. My favorite is Natural Vitality Calm, which is a magnesium powder you can mix into water and sip before bed. It helps to relax the body overall, which can also improve sleep and anxiety issues.
One of the biggest takeaways is that calming inflammation means addressing the gut, even if you don’t have any obvious digestive issues. You can do this by taking away certain foods (and lifestyle factors like stress) and adding in certain foods. Even just a week worth of changes will help you to feel better, so commit to removing the inflammatory foods for 7 days, add in bone broth, manage stress, and get plenty of sleep.
For more tips like this, be sure to request to join my private Facebook Community. If you’re dealing with signs of inflammation and want to know what you need to do to feel better, you can schedule a free 20 minute assessment and we can talk about it!