Updated: Apr 11
Chronic inflammation has been linked to hundreds of health conditions - asthma, allergies, inflammatory bowel disease (clues in the title!) and all the autoimmune diseases.
Your body creates an inflammatory response when it suffers an injury or is attacked by bacteria, viruses or toxic chemicals. It's a good thing when you cut your knee when you trip over. Your body reacts by sending inflammatory cells to the site along with cytokines that stimulate the production of more inflammatory cells.
HOWEVER your body can keep on sending inflammatory cells to a site when there's no danger! Rheumatoid arthritis is just one example where the body attacks joint tissues leading to pain and deformities.
Most people I talk to, don't seem to realise how much we can do through dietary and lifestyle changes to make a difference. So here's my SEVEN STEPS to improve chronic inflammation.
SEVEN STEPS TO REDUCE INFLAMMATION
Add lots of lovely inflammation fighting foods to your diet. Berries and fatty fish are great examples, but also try adding avocado, grapes, good quality extra virgin olive oil, mushrooms, green tea, broccoli and peppers. Aim to get at least one anti-inflammatory food to each meal you eat.
The flip side to increasing anti-inflammatory foods is, you guest it, getting rid of foods that cause inflammation. Processed sugar is a major contributor here and it's hidden in so many foods as well as the obvious cakes, desserts and soft drinks. It's also in most breakfast cereals, condiments and yogurts. Even if you don't eat much sugar there is also the danger from refined carbohydrate foods like white bread and white pasta. They breakdown rapidly in your body into sugar. Other culprits to avoid are sunflower and rapeseed oils, processed foods, especially processed meats. Also alcohol in large amounts (one reason why inflammation can increase around Christmas and New Year).
Reducing stress as much as possible is also key to keeping inflammation at bay. When you are stressed your body goes into fight-or-flight mode and that then creates an inflammatory response. I'm a big believer in creating time for anti-stress activities every day. My favourites are going for a short walk, having a bath, curling up with a cuppa for a few quite moments, listening to some restful music (I have a list of calming worship songs at the ready on YouTube) and doing something creative.
Minimising free radical damage by reducing oxidation levels in the body is another key factor. It's such a big topic that I'll devote a full post to it as well. But for now, the basics are - your body is being damaged by free radicals, your body can fight that with anti-oxidants. When you are growing your body produces masses of anti-oxidants, but this production then starts to decline, allowing more damage to take place. Anti-oxidant rich foods can help to some extent, but can in no way fill the whole gap. I take a supplement daily that reduces oxidative stress by 40% in 30 days. I'll share the full story of my journey with this product another day, but for now if you'd like more info click on the link below for product details
5. Low levels of some vitamins and minerals also increase your chances of suffering from inflammation. They are the B vitamins - B3, B6, biotin and B5, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc. Wholefoods are great sources of B vitamins. It's a great way to make a healthy switch by swapping out processed carbs for wholegrain ones - an inflammation double boost as you are getting rid of inflammatory foods and replacing with ones that will reduce inflammation!
6. Adding in Omega 3 is one of my favourite quick fixes for inflammation. A good quality supplement will help give you a daily boost. If you would like some help taking these steps towards improving your health, please book a FREE consultation with me.
7. Last, but definitely not least, is intermittent fasting (IF). Study after study has proven that doing intermittent fasting, even some of the time, improves inflammation. It's a vast subject, so look out for future posts. If you are thinking of giving IF a try, my top tip would be to look at 16:8 as a first option. 16:8 means fasting for 16 hours a day and eating for 8. Not as bad as it initially sounds as you'll be asleep for half the fasting time! And remember to always consult your medical practitioner before making any major dietary changes.
Wishing you every success in your journey to less inflammation.