Hi there! Do your joints ache without any physical injury? Are you constipated and bloated frequently? Does your skin break out often? If you are nodding along then chances are you might have chronic inflammation. Inflammation is the cause of many diseases from mild headaches to diabetes, heart attacks, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.
Today’s article is going to be a treatment guide to help you reduce inflammation naturally. Does eating salad every day help? What about de-stressing? Do you need to give up coffee? We’re discussing all that and more.
But first, What Exactly Is Chronic Inflammation?
Inflammation is your body’s natural response to an irritant. It could be germs, viruses, foreign objects, pollutants, toxins, or an injury. If you cut yourself while chopping vegetables or have a sprained ankle then inflammation serves as your body’s protective mechanism. Without inflammatory reactions, your wounds can take forever to heal. This is called acute inflammation.
But the problem starts when your inflammatory pathways get triggered despite everything running smoothly in your body. Well, at least it may appear that way. This is termed chronic inflammation. A faulty lifestyle is the root cause of chronic inflammation. Now let’s look at some simple and inexpensive ways to beat long-standing inflammation.
Begin with Anti-Inflammatory Foods.
Nutrition holds the key to managing inflammation. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables can help to lower inflammatory compounds in your body. The top anti-inflammatory foods are green leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce, kale, and arugula. Walnuts, almonds, avocados, beans, berries, tomatoes, cherries, and grapes, they work like magic.
Studies have shown eating wholesome plant-based foods can give you a blast of phytonutrients to lower inflammation. Have at least a cup of these anti-inflammatories every day. Whip up a mean salad and throw it in your lunch bag. You can also have grass-fed meats and wild-caught fish for the healthy fats occasionally.
Wondering what to eat when the sweet cravings kick in? You can actually have a piece or two of dark chocolate on an anti-inflammatory diet. How cool is that? But remember to buy the dark chocolate that has a higher percentage of cocoa. This brings us to our next point…
Do you fill your shopping cart with soda, cookies, ice cream, cakes, and candies? If yes you need to stop doing that right away. Refined sugar can cause your sugar levels to peak and drop suddenly. It promotes inflammation and can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart problems.
You also might want to avoid refined carbs that are usually present in highly processed foods like white bread, potato chips, pasta, sweetened fruit juices, and breakfast cereals. Try to snack more on fiber-rich foods that have a decent amount of proteins to keep you full. Apple slices with peanut butter or cucumber, carrot or celery sticks with a hummus dip, a handful of mixed nuts, berries, and even small cheese cubes can reduce your hunger and irritability.
More on what to eat, be generous with Spices.
If you are focused on modifying your diet to get the maximum anti-inflammatory benefits, start adding turmeric, garlic, cumin, cloves, rosemary, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, fenugreek, and coriander seeds to your cooking. Now you might think that this is a perfect recipe to make your food more pungent and promote inflammation. But in reality, it’s quite the opposite.
Scientific evidence shows spices target inflammatory pathways and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. This is likely the reason mankind has used spices since 5000 BC. Traditionally they were used as coloring and flavoring agents, remedies for a few diseases, and even as preservatives. Go ahead and elevate your freshly squeezed homemade juices, soups, sauces, salads, marinades, and rubs with as many spices as possible.
Next, Prioritize Quality Sleep.
Are you guilty of indulging a little too much in social media or watching reruns of your favorite shows late at night? Then stop doing it asap. You will not be living to your full potential unless you are well rested for 7 to 9 hours at night. Good sleep can improve your mood and reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, dementia, anxiety, and metabolic disorders. It has a profound effect on your concentration, coordination, and energy level.
Studies found sleep loss to increase inflammatory mediators. Depriving your body of precious snooze time, even for a day, can have deleterious effects in the long run.
Try turning off all devices one hour before your sleep time. Dim the lights and make your bedroom ambiance relaxing. Try massaging your body and listening to a guided meditation to fall into slumber quickly. Focus on your breathing and have a regular sleep routine.
Next on our list is Physical Activity.
Everyone will have different fitness goals. You can hit the weights in your gym if you’re looking for a toned body or a better posture. If you want to increase your endurance, go into nature, climb a mountain or run a marathon. If you are simply feeling stiff, give your body a good stretch. The baseline is to do whatever feels natural and enough.
Despite being busy, make time to stay active. It will improve your brain health, help with weight management, strengthen your bones and muscles and ultimately reduce inflammation. Studies show regular exercise 20 minutes per day can exert an anti-inflammatory effect on a cellular level. So slide on a pair of joggers and take a quick walk around the block.
Now let’s deal with a tricky subject: Alcohol.
Are you attending parties and having too much to drink? Then you need to cut back a little. Having alcohol with existing inflammation can worsen the situation. Chronic alcohol consumption can amplify inflammation and cause multi-organ failure. Not to mention the impairment of the gut, liver, and kidneys.
On the flip side, some studies have noted mild to moderate alcohol consumption to lower the markers of cardiovascular inflammatory diseases.This clearly indicates that alcohol, within limits, can actually help with inflammation. But anything more than a glass or two you can take away all its benefits.
Looking for more, sip Green Tea.
Ditch your regular cup of espresso and go for this ancient wellness drink. Green tea is a fusion of polyphenols that help to reduce free radicals. Research has shown a compound called EGCG to give its amazing anti-inflammatory effects. It is beneficial against neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, and cancer.
Coffee can make you feel jacked up and leave you with jittery or a throttled feeling. Green tea can bring you all the goodness of coffee but without its side effects. The compound L-theanine can provide a steady stream of energy and improve cognitive function.
Moving along, try Intermittent Fasting.
Have you ever tried it? It might not be easy initially but once you know the benefits you will feel encouraged to extend the fasting hours. Experts believe that intermittent fasting can be life-altering. It has shown many promising results like balancing hormones, improving insulin sensitivity, reducing the risk of heart diseases, enhancing brain health, and calming inflammatory bowel diseases.
The science behind intermittent fasting is to limit your eating window either to 12 or 16 hours a day. That way you will be eating fewer calories and also drop some pounds. Experts believe intermittent fasting reduces inflammation. One animal study found it even arrested the growth of cancer and increased life expectancy. So give it a try folks!
Probiotics come next.
Your gut has a hard time processing all the junk food and sugar-laden beverages. Probiotics can support your gut health and can give your gut a much-needed break. Aim at having 1 serving of yogurt every day. You can also add sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi to your diet. If you already suffer from bloating and constipation, it will improve your digestive health. Probiotics help to improve the delicate balance of good and bad bacteria.
Many human and animal studies have shown probiotics to improve the inflammatory mechanism and boost immunity. Moreover they can improve skin conditions like dermatitis or eczema and reduce LDL or bad cholesterol.
Another gut-friendly tip is to go Dairy and Gluten-free.
Milk and milk products do not cause inflammation on their own. They are nourishing and are a great source of calcium, proteins, and vitamins. But they can flare up an existing inflammatory condition. The same holds for gluten-rich foods. Wheat, barley, and rye contain significant amounts of gluten that can be dangerous if you have gluten intolerance or celiac disease. Switch to plant-based milk like almond, soy, or coconut milk. Get whole grains like oats, brown rice, buckwheat, millet, and amaranth.
One meta-analysis found increased whole grain consumption to reduce systemic inflammation. Remember to add these grains on your shopping list for your next run to the grocery store.
Also, be cautious about Artificial Foods.
Don’t these cupcakes look appetizing? Did you know all those different colors can overload you with toxins? Artificial coloring and flavoring are usually added to make food more appealing. They are typically added to cakes, drinks, cereals, candy, frozen treats, and sushi. Food dyes and preservatives can trigger inflammation and weaken your gut barrier. Studies show artificial food dyes can also impair your immunological responses.That’s why it’s important to take a thorough look at the list of ingredients on packaged foods. Choose foods with natural food coloring the next time you go to restock your pantry. Your body will thank you later.
Last but not the least, De-stress.
Is there too much stress hanging over your head? Then try getting rid of the stressors one by one. Try paying your bills early. Plan your day meticulously and get your chores done on time. Take frequent breaks when your workload increases and gets the best of you. Make sure you dedicate at least 30 minutes to yourself.
Being stressed continuously can be tiring. Your brain can have a tough time coping with too many things. De-stressing can prevent inflammation. Practice active relaxation like Yoga, and meditation to keep your mind healthy. Other great tools for chilling out are listening to music, watching funny videos, aromatherapy, or simply calling up your loved ones. It’s a lesser-known fact that almost 75 to 90% of human diseases are related to stress. That’s why getting rid of stress can put an end to chronic inflammation and even disease.
The right food can act as a remedy for treating diseases. But if you’re negligent, your food can work against you to cause inflammation.