What Is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a mechanism that the immune system uses to protect your body, sending out inflammatory cytokines (signals) to various organs and organ systems in response to injury, stress, and harmful invaders (or what it perceives to be harmful invaders). Factors that can trigger inflammation include pathogens, allergens, autoimmune diseases, injury, stress (physical and emotional), hormonal imbalance and free radicals.
However, when our bodies become chronically overloaded (with toxins, emotional stress, food allergens, etc) inflammation can start to wreak havoc on a cellular level.
In fact, inflammation is at the root of most of the modern chronic conditions and health issues. It is the underlying mechanism behind all diseases ending in “-itis” (like arthritis, sinusitis, bronchitis, colitis, and many more!) as well as many major chronic lifestyle-driven diseases.
Reducing inflammation is essential to regaining your health (and often the first thing I work on with my nutrition clients), so today I’m sharing 8 ways to reduce inflammation.
Adopt an anti-inflammatory eating plan.
Notice how I avoided using the word “diet”? Rather than viewing this as a diet, view it as a lifestyle choice that you are making in order to reduce inflammation and take back your health, because truthfully, reducing inflammation is the first step in taking back your health.
In my next article, I’ll be sharing the the top do’s and dont’s of an anti-inflammatory eating plan, so stay tuned for that.
Get your beauty sleep.
We all know how important sleep is, yet it remains something we don’t prioritize. Sleep is your body’s time to heal, so if you’re struggling with any inflammatory issues, suspect you have inflammation, or just want to dramatically improve your health, quality sleep is non-negotiable. Get my tips for better sleep right here. If you want to take it a step further, turn your WiFi off at night to reduce your exposure to EMFs while you sleep.
Consider a High-Quality Omega 3 Fatty Acid Supplement.
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for digestive health, hair, skin, and nails, immunity, back and joints, eyes, brain, mood, heart, and for combatting many chronic diseases.
Most Americans on The Standard American Diet have a ratio of 1:25 omega 3 to omega 6, but that ratio should be closer to 1:2 for optimal health. Americans have the lowest intake of omega-3 essential fatty acids of any developed country.
Countless studies have shown that fish oil (a great source of omega 3) reduces inflammation and can improve a variety of inflammatory conditions, including autoimmune diseases.
My trusted brand for fish oil is Nordic Naturals because of their commitment to research, quality, and third-party testing for purity (they have very strict standards for purity, quality, and freshness). When it comes to fish oil, it’s extremely important to be using a brand that is dedicated to purity, to avoid PCBs, heavy metals, and other contaminants. *Always ask your healthcare professional before taking any new supplements.
Find a stress-management technique that works for you – and actually commit to it.
This is one of the most challenging areas for me personally and an area that I know a lot of us struggle with. I’ve outlined multiple ideas for stress-management in this article. Chronic stress, even if it’s low-grade stress, creates chronic, systemic inflammation in the body. When left unmanaged, this will eventually turn into health problems.
Move your body.
Exercise not only reduces inflammation, but improves insulin sensitivity and promotes a healthy lymphatic system. It’s also important to reach a healthy weight, as excess body fat is pro-inflammatory.
Reduce your chemical body burden by reducing your toxic exposures as much as possible.
Toxic exposures are everywhere, and while we cannot avoid all of them completely, we do have the power to avoid many of them with our everyday lifestyle choices. I’ve written a lot about this here, here, and here. Any time you take steps to reduce your exposure to harmful toxicants, you’re actively promoting health and reducing inflammation… and your body will thank you for it!
Avoid food allergens.
The most common food allergens are gluten, dairy, eggs, shellfish, nuts, corn, and soy. However, depending on many factors, including the state of your gut health, people can also be sensitive to even the healthiest foods. Any type of food sensitivity or intolerance can create low-grade inflammation in the gut.
This is where personalized nutrition comes into action – and an area that I focus on with each of my nutrition clients. We determine which foods they respond well to and which create inflammation – and develop a personalized eating plan that reduces inflammation – in each unique body. Removing trigger foods will decrease inflammation.
Spend time outside — with bare feet!
Research has shown that direct contact with the earth (standing on dirt, grass, sand with bare feet) even for just a few minutes each day can dramatically reduce inflammation and pain.
Which of these 8 strategies do you think you’ll focus on incorporating first?
Hannah is the founder of Healthfully Hannah and is a nutrition professional empowering women to live healthfully through science-based, step-by-step guidance. Read Hannah’s health journey that led her to discover the power of Functional Medicine and Nutrition. Get in touch with Hannah right here.
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