Many health conditions today can be linked back to chronic inflammation. Conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma and Alzheimers can all be linked to inflammation. The issue we face today, is that our medicines are designed to combat the symptoms of these conditions and do not deal with the underlying health issue: chronic inflammation.
So instead of focusing on medication to combat the symptoms, the best approach is to adopt of lifestyle that naturally reduces inflammation; which in turn boosts your overall health.
Such a lifestyle means balancing your diet and exercising more often. While this may seem like the basics, we have some specific anti-inflammatory habits you can adopt further below.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is a natural immune response, and usually isn’t a bad thing. This response is your body trying to defend itself against an external force like viruses, bacteria or physical trauma.
Without inflammation the body would be far less equipped to heal itself.
Inflammation can appear as visible redness that surrounds an external wound coupled with a feeling of warmth. You can also experience swelling of the inflamed area and due to the stimulation of nerves you may also experience pain.
Acute vs. Chronic
Acute inflammation comes on quickly and only lasts a few days, for example if your elbow becomes damaged the tissue or joints may need care and become inflamed as a response. This type of inflammation is usually quick to recover from.
The problems arise when we start talking about Chronic Inflammation. This type can last for months to years and is usually a result of the body not being able to eliminate the cause of the inflammation.
What triggers inflammation?
Common causes of inflammation besides physical damage to the body include diet, stress and lack of exercise.
Carrying excess weight can also trigger inflammation in the body. Further having poor gut health (imbalanced gut bacteria) can contribute to inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, depression, and neurological diseases.
How can diet impact inflammation?
It’s important to consider what goes into your body if inflammation is a concern for you. Review the list of foods below and try to reduce your intake to as little as possible.
Sugar - sugar really does wreak havoc on the body impacting not only inflammation but many other hormonal functions.
Hydrogenated / Trans Fats - Commonly found in fast food, anything fried, or anything processed.
Omega 6 Oils - These are fine for you in moderation, but over-consumption without the right balance of Omega 3 can trigger the body to produce pro-inflammatory chemicals.
Refined Carbs - Eating fast foods again which have all of the above in abundance, they can also be found in breads and biscuits. You may also want to make sure your cereal isn’t heavy in refined carbs.
Gluten - Celiacs should obviously always avoid gluten, but you may find that even if you are not a diagnosed celiac, gluten sensitivity could still be negatively impacting your health.
Casein - Dairy proteins, these are OK in small amounts for some people but its important to see how you feel. Some find avoiding casein shows decreases inflammation levels.
Alcohol - Moderation is key here, and there are healthier options (see below). Excess consumption puts strain on the liver which can trigger an inflammatory response.
A note about red wine: For most people, complete elimination of alcohol is the ideal. If you really don’t want to give it up though red wine can be a good alcohol to switch to. Red wine contains various anti-inflammatory compounds including the antiaging resveritol, and can greatly inhibit inflammation throughout the body.
Reducing Inflammation Naturally
Step 1 - Diet
The problematic foods mentioned above should be avoided entirely and you should instead focus on foods that are high in antioxidants which can help reduce inflammation throughout the body.
We actually have a full anti-inflammation diet written up here.
Step 2 - Exercise
Exercise should be a staple of your daily routine regardless of inflammation woes, as it is important for maintaining optimal health. Key here though, is that movement and use of the body decreases many inflammatory responses in the body. 20 minutes of moderate exercise is all you need.
For more information, check out our section on exercise in this article.
Step 3 - Supplementation
The below supplements are best at assisting with inflammation:
Omega-3:Especially known for reducing inflammation and promoting good joint health. Omega-3 fatty acids are an ideal supplement for maintaining a healthy inflammation response.
Turmeric: Our namesake, and our preference for naturally maintaining health. The active compound curcumin is well known for its ability to help your body manage healthy inflammation levels.
Step 4 - Lifestyle & Stress
Reducing stress triggers in your day to day can have an enormous impact on just not inflammation but also overall health. This is often underappreciated as a cause of inflammation throughout the body.
Work to identify points of psychological stress in your life and reduce them as much as possible. Daily meditation can also help in reducing stress and calm your state to better be able to deal with future stress.
If you need more information on this topic, our blog has a number of other articles that go into greater depth.