14 tips to eliminate inflammation naturally
By Sara Novak
So you haven’t been feeling your best lately. Maybe you’re fatigued or bloated. You’ve gained weight and you don’t know why. You hurt after your workout, whether it’s your joints or muscles. Reducing inflammation is all about taking care of yourself down to the cellular level. It’s about loving this body that you’ve been given. If you want to look and feel your best from the inside out and ensure that inflammation doesn’t lead to disease later on, here’s everything you need to know about inflammation and what you can do to prevent it.
- What Is Inflammation
- Acute Inflammation
- Chronic Inflammation
- 14 Tips To Eliminate Inflammation Naturally
Inflammation is a term you’ve likely been hearing a lot lately. You might know it’s not a good thing. But what is it? And what can you do to protect against it? Let’s take a look at the causes of inflammation so you can get control of your health.
For starters, there are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic.
Acute inflammation happens when you have an injury and that area of the body becomes inflamed. White blood cells start growing in numbers to help fight infection. This is the short term effort of your body to heal a tissue injury. The response, whether it’s a cut, scrape, burn, bruise, etc. is redness, heat, loss of function, and swelling. This is the immune system reacting to injury in the body. It’s immediate and normally beneficial in protecting you against bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and other parasites.
Chronic inflammation is what we’re talking about here today. Its underlying rational is the same, but chronic inflammation is not beneficial. Just like acute inflammation, chronic inflammation is the body’s attempt, according to Harvard Health, to protect itself against invaders. It’s the immune system working hard. The body sees toxins like alcohol, cigarette smoke, plaque in the blood vessels, etc. as foreign invaders so it begins to attack itself in an effort to protect you from disease. “This chronic kind of low-grade inflammation may continually simmer under the surface. An unhealthy lifestyle that includes smoking, a poor diet, alcohol consumption, sedentary behavior, stress, and weight gain can cause this type of persistent inflammation.”
Diseases caused by chronic inflammation
Overtime a number of diseases can be caused by chronic inflammation. These include:
- Heart disease (high blood pressure, stroke)
- Skin allergies
- Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia
Signs of chronic inflammation
Chronic inflammation, unlike acute inflammation, happens over a long period of time. Some of the symptoms can include:
- Weight gain
- Poor mood
- Muscle aches
- Joint pain
14 tips to eliminate inflammation naturally
Luckily, there are a number of steps that you can take to reduce and eliminate inflammation in your body. Inflammation is often largely a result of diet and lifestyle, both of which you have a lot of control over. Let’s take a closer look.
1. Avoid soda, processed juices, and sweets
Sugars, especially low quality processed sugars, are a shock to the system. They don’t belong in the body and overtime they can cause inflammation and negative metabolic responses like diabetes. A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that “increasing consumption of soft drinks containing high-fructose corn syrup or sucrose has caused a rise in fructose intake, which has been related to the epidemic of metabolic diseases.” Another study published in the Journal of Nutrition “illustrates some important relationships between glycemic exposure and cardiovascular disease risk, and insulin resistance.” When you do enjoy sweet treats, use unprocessed healthier varieties like raw honey, organic maple syrup, agave syrup, and coconut sugar instead.
2. Tackle stress
A continual acute stress response causes inflammation in the body because it slows down important systems like digestion and amps up other systems like the endocrine system. Stress is a major cause of inflammation in the body and it needs to be tackled in much the same way as a poor diet. A study published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience found “interventions targeting stress risk factors, especially stress-induced inflammation, would be beneficial for the treatment of diseases.” Another study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry found that stress can cause neurological inflammation. The authors write that findings revealed stress-induced elevations in inflammation contributed to the development of anxiety- and depressive-like behaviors in study participants.
While sugar-sweetened beverages and junk food are off limits when you’re trying to stave off inflammation, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy sweet and delicious fruits. In terms of inflammation, deeply colors fruits like grapes, plums, and berries are all excellent choices. Make sure that any fruits you choose are high quality, local, and organic. Non-organic fruits could be coated with pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides—all toxins that pollute the body and therefore cause inflammation. A study published in the journal Food Function found that “emerging research demonstrates a protective role of fruits and their polyphenols in pre-clinical, clinical, and epidemiological studies of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis” both of which are inflammatory diseases.
Weight gain especially around the belly area is linked with chronic inflammation. Ashwagandha, on the other hand, has been shown to reduce fat, stress response, and blood sugar, all causes and indicators of inflammation. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that “[c]ompared to the placebo subjects, those receiving ashwagandha also had a significantly greater decrease in body fat percentage.” It’s also been shown to boost the body’s metabolism and increase weight loss in study participants. Taking ashwagandha in the morning is a great way to turn your body into a daily fat burning machine.
5. Avoid fried foods
It’s not just about the foods you eat, but the way the foods you eat are cooked. According to Harvard Health, fried foods are a no-go. French fries, fried chicken, calamari, or onion rings—if they’re fried it’s best to avoid or enjoy only on very special occasions.
An apple a day. Yeah, you know the drill. But apples are famous with good reason, they’re good for you. A study published the journal Food Chemistry found “increasing scientific evidence has shown that polyphenolic compounds, such as flavonoids, which are found in fruits, vegetables, or cocoa, can have anti-inflammatory properties.”
7. Reduce alcohol consumption
High alcohol consumption produces excessive uric acid in the body which increases inflammation. Alcohol is a toxin which, in excess, causes the body to attack itself. A study published in the journal Alcohol, found this to be true by counting C-reactive proteins, uric acid, and leukocytes in the blood of both men and women who consumed alcohol. The study showed that alcohol did increase inflammation in the body. High quality organic or biodynamic red wine is a part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation because of the polyphenols found in the grape skins. But this consists of 1-2 drinks per day depending on your body weight. Additionally, really clean forms of alcohol like tequila without mixers are also acceptable in moderation.
Inactivity is also a cause of inflammation. Make exercise a part of your life in whatever form you love. A study published in The American College of Preventive Medicine found “[t]otal self-reported weekday sitting time was associated with biomarkers linked to chronic low-grade inflammation and poor metabolic health in women.” Another study published in the renowned journal PLOS One found that “sedentary behavior may influence markers associated with inflammation.” Keep in mind that you don’t have to do extreme cardio to reduce inflammation. Take it easy and enjoy yourself. Consider walking, swimming, yoga, weight training, mobility exercises, surfing, and the list goes on.
Learn More: The Many Benefits Of Strength Training
It’s all about good fats and avocados are a great example. A study published in the journal Food Function found that when study participants added a slice of avocado to their hamburgers, they experienced a lower inflammatory response to red meat compared to when they didn’t have a slice of avocado on their burger.
L-Theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, has been shown to reduce anxiety and improve mood which can lead to fewer stress hormones coursing through the body and causing inflammation. A study published in the journal Nutrients found that L-theanine, reduced stress-related symptoms of depression, anxiety, and sleep problems.
11. Waking up with gratitude
Before you decide to be stressed in the morning, remember you’re lucky to be alive. Take a few minutes for gratitude every day. Research has shown that gratitude journaling, or writing down what you’re thankful for everyday can improve your level of happiness. A study published in the Journal of Management Education found that gratitude journaling was beneficial for student wellbeing and stress management. This is important because our stress response, as mentioned above, is closely linked to inflammatory response in the body.
12. Practice meditation
Start your day every day with a few minutes of meditation. Find a quiet place like a closet, put on some headphones, close your eyes, and begin to follow your breath. Set the timer on your phone and practice this each morning. Meditation slows our stress response so when stressful things happen in your life you don’t respond to them as quickly.
13. Breathe deeply
Before, during, or after meditation add in five minutes of deep breathing. Breathe in for 1-2-3 and exhale for 1-2-3-4-5. By extending the exhale you’re able to slow your stress response and help to calm down the entire body. A study published in the journal BMC Complimentary and Alternative Medicine found that deep breathing reduced markers of inflammation more than attention controlled mindfulness methods alone.
14. Do what you love
Set aside some time each day to do the things you love whether it’s reading, writing, yoga, surfing, skate boarding, cooking, and the list goes on. We all have those activities that bring us joy and it’s all about adding them into each day. Choosing an activity that reduces stress like journaling, spiritual retreats, traveling, and building social relationships can all go a long way to reduce the body’s stress response. Remember, when it comes to inflammation, mental health is just as important as physical health.
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