What is Inflammation?
By definition inflammation is your body's response to fighting infection and stimulating the healing process. When you twist your ankle and it swells or you get a bruise, that's inflammation. It typically comes in the form of heat, redness and swelling. Injury triggers the body to produce hormones such as cortisol and flows blood and nutrients to the site to repair it. Some inflammation is okay for us but chronic inflammation can cause major stress on the body and can lead to disease.
Why Do We Get Inflammation?
A poor diet, prescription medications, smoking, alcohol, food allergies, excess caffeine and not enough exercise can all lead to lowered immunity and excess inflammation in the body.
Signs You Might Have Inflammation:
excess body fat
high blood sugar
gut issues such as bloating or constipation
skin complications such as psoriasis or acne
perform high intensity exercise
Common Foods That Can Cause Inflammation:
Nightshades: Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and spices such as cayenne pepper and paprika are known to cause arthritis like symptoms in some.
Vegetable oils such as palm and soy oils can also increase inflammation. The ideal ratio for omega 3 to omega 6 should be 1:4 but in the standard American diet is around 1:16, which is way too high. Processed foods made with low grade and cheap oils are the culprit along with deep fried foods.
Cruciferous Veggies: Broccoli, cauliflower, kale and brussel sprouts are excellent for helping to reduce inflammation markers in the body. These foods are high in fiber and contain sulfur which helps with detoxification of the liver.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids: . Salmon, sea algae, hemp hearts, flax seeds, nuts and seeds are all excellent sources of omega 3's. If you think your diet is lacking, try supplementing with a good quality fish oil.
Probiotics: As you probably know by now, I am a huge advocate for good gut health. If your gut has been compromised from diet, medication, antibiotics or stress, make sure to replenish it with probiotic rich foods such as kefir, kimchi, saurkraut and miso. I always recommend at least two servings per day. Probiotics help to boost the immune system, combat the bad bugs and helps to better breakdown and absorb nutrients.
Turmeric: Turmeric is so healing and has been around for hundreds of years and is commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine. Curcumin, turmeric's active ingredient, acts as a powerful anti inflammatory agent. It is super soothing to the gut and is also helpful for those who suffer with joint pain. You can get turmeric in powder form in the spice aisle or you can also get the root, which is similar to ginger, in with the produce section. Make sure to take turmeric with black pepper and a little fat like coconut oil for optimal absorption.
Colorful Foods and Green Leafy Vegetables: Fruits and veggies as a whole contain anti- oxidants, phytochemicals and vitamins and minerals that reduce free radicals in the body helping to protect our cells. Add greens in whenever you can or look at adding a super food powder if you think you might be lacking.
Maca: Maca has been one of my most favorite supplements over the years and is especially good for those who workout intensely or have high stress levels. Maca is an adaptognenic root that helps to balance the adrenal glands which are responsible for producing hormones when we are stressed. Ashwagandha and other mushrooms such as reishi or lions main can be helpful as well.
Managing inflammation is a combination of practicing a healthy lifestyle. Getting enough sleep, moving your body, drinking enough water, choosing whole foods and managing stress are all part of the equation.
It can certainly be overwhelming with all the information around diets and it can be hard to know where to start. I always recommend starting with the basics like cleaning up the diet and moving a little more. I also recommend writing a food log to see if you notice any symptoms or patterns with certain foods. An elimination diet is also a good option which includes a gut healing protocol, eliminating common food allergens like the ones listed above and then re introducing them to see if you react. You can also look at taking a food sensitivity test as well which covers a wide range of foods.
If you are still experiencing symptoms and not feeling your best look at consulting with a nutritionist or naturopath who can help uncover any underlying issues.
I hope this was helpful and as always I am here for questions!
Looking for a meal plan? I designed my 7 Day Reset Guide around reducing inflammation. It is dairy and gluten free and easy to follow. You can download it here (It's free!)