Inflammation is an underlying cause of many chronic and autoimmune diseases. Not all inflammation is bad of course, it’s a natural immune response that can literally save our lives. It’s the chronic inflammation that’s the problem. Get a cut? You want that inflammation to help you heal! It’s the constant low-level inflammatory state that is the problem. Unfortunately, our modern lives help contribute to a chronic inflammatory state. This is why making everyday diet and lifestyle choices that seek to lower inflammation is an important goal of any health plan.
What are the ways to reduce inflammation?
Keep on reading to learn more.
Inflammation can bring about a number of unpleasant symptoms including headaches, bloating, weight gain/loss, brain fog, skin issues, gas, joint pain, allergies, mood issues, cravings, fatigue and more. Over time these symptoms can escalate and increase our risk for disease.
I know all too well how inflammation can wreak havoc on the body. Before I began my journey to health, when donuts and Doritos were a regular part of my diet, I fell sick. And not your everyday cold kind of sick. Full body aches, fatigue, nerve issues, dizziness and joint pain. Blood test markers for inflammation were elevated along with autoimmune factors.
I didn’t know what was wrong with me and the doctors didn’t either. I soon realized that their pill for every ill mentality wasn’t going to get at the root cause of my problems, so I took my health into my own hands. That’s when I found the paleo lifestyle and begun to drastically reduce the inflammation in my body. And it worked… I’m 5 years strong. My health isn’t perfect but I can’t imagine where I’d be now if I continued the inflammatory lifestyle I was leading.
There are a variety of ways to keep inflammation at bay, here’s the lowdown on the top 5 ways.
5 Ways to Reduce Inflammation
1. Remove the junk.
The food we eat is a large contributor to our inflammation levels. What we take off our plate can be just as important as what we put on it. Removing “junk” and replacing it with nutritious food naturally helps balance your omega 3 to omega 6 ratio (research shows omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation!) and removes a variety of harmful ingredients such as sugar, sodium, unhealthy trans fats, vegetable oils, refined carbohydrates and more. When your body has the proper fats and isn’t fighting off chemicals it doesn’t understand, inflammation is kept at bay.
Along with minimizing processed foods, vegetable oils, refined carbohydrates, and sugar procure meat and dairy from grass-fed pastured animals. Did you know that pastured animals have a higher ratio of omega 3’s? They also typically do not contain hormones and antibiotics which can cause inflammation in the body.
Finally, it’s best to reduce exposure to pesticides by buying organic when possible.
2. Add in the good stuff.
The more high-quality food we eat, the more anti-inflammatory vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients we receive! We want the good stuff! We want to eat a diet that is protective against inflammation.
Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables including as many colors of the rainbow as possible. The more colors the better (if you’re trying to lose weight, always use caution with too much fruit!).
Eat high-quality animal products from pastured animals living their natural lives. It’s not “you are what you eat”, it’s “you are what your food eats.”
And don’t skimp on flavor! Along with adding flavor to our food, spices help stop pro-inflammatory compounds. Spices such as turmeric, ginger, and garlic are notorious for their anti-inflammatory properties. Along with spices, various teas have similar effects.
3. Exercise better, not necessarily more.
Did you know that chronic exercise patterns can actually cause inflammation as opposed to lowering it? We all know exercise is great for our health, that hasn’t changed. But we need to exercise the right way for our bodies. This includes utilizing high-intensity workouts, weight resistance training, stress-reducing activities such as yoga and everyday play. Aerobic exercise is also great, but when we stress our bodies by keeping our heart rates up for extended time periods, we may be doing more harm than good.
4. Manage stress.
Stress and inflammation are interlinked. The more we stress the more inflamed we get. This is why reducing our stress levels is so important to our health! There are many ways to reduce stress including eating a nutritious diet, getting proper sleep, exercising (the smart way!), spending time in nature, listening to music, meditation, and yoga, spending time with friends and family, living a life of purpose and more!
5. Minimize toxins in your life.
Finally, it’s not only important to take the junk out of your diet, you need to take the junk out of your environment! Exposure to certain environmental toxins causes inflammation in the body. We don’t want that.
The easiest step is to start using cleaner beauty and household products by avoiding parabens, phytates, VOC’s and a variety of other harmful chemicals. There are a variety of apps that can help you shop for cleaner products including Think Dirty, EWG, and Good Guide.
It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re drinking filtered water, using healthy cookware options such as stainless steel or cast iron and purifying your indoor air through houseplants, opening the windows and HEPA filters.
Reduce Inflammation in your body:
By making proper diet and lifestyle choices I reduced my levels of chronic inflammation and lowered my risk of future disease. This is what the ancestral/paleo/primal community is all about. If you’d like to learn more about how the paleo diet can lower inflammation and help you achieve optimal health, take a FREE trial of Paleo Lifestyle Bootcamp.
This post was written by Ania Drosnes, a certified Primal Health Coach and blogger at www.livecleannourish.com. Live Clean Nourish is a paleo inspired, natural health blog that encourages readers to take health into their own hands. Ania recently released her signature program, Paleo Lifestyle Bootcamp and is offering a free trial to readers at www.paleolifestylebootcamp.com.