Inflammation is huge. It effects our workouts, our day-to-day, and our overall livelihood. It is also a signal and precursor to chronic disease. Check out this article from CBIZ’s Well Being Newsletter. If you’d like to see the .pdf version on their site with pretty images, click here!
We often think of inflammation as the redness, burning and swelling that occurs when we cut our skin, burn our mouths eating something hot or get sunburns. These are external signs of inflammation, and we immediately know to cool this inflammation with ice, water, aloe vera or any other number of known remedies.
However, we do not always see or feel inflammation that occurs inside the body until extensive damage has been done. Inflammation is at the core of nearly every chronic disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure, digestive disorders, acid reflux, all autoimmune conditions (e.g., arthritis, Type 1 diabetes, irritable bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease), eye disease (e.g., glaucoma and macular degeneration), Alzheimer’s disease, Type 2 diabetes, many cancers and several other conditions.
Nutrition and lifestyle can be integral in soothing and preventing inflammation. Even in the case of chronic disease that requires medical intervention, nutrition and lifestyle can complement an individual’s medical treatment to mitigate the effects of the condition and possibly to prevent further damage. Here are some ways to cool your inflammation.
- Eat a primarily plant-based diet, rich in non-starchy vegetables and some fruit. Plant-based diets reduce biomarkers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein (CRP).
- Reduce grain and sugar-based carbohydrates. Diets that are overly abundant on grains (whole grains and refined ones) and sugar (real and artificial) are highly inflammatory, causing insulin levels to rise, eventually keeping the hormone from getting the byproduct of glucose (blood sugar) to cells for energy.
- Eat more monounsaturated fats (found in nuts, seeds, avocados, legumes, olives, olive oil) and Omega-3 fatty acids, which are available in fatty fish (e.g., cod, herring, salmon, sardines), fish oil and in plant sources such as walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseed and others. Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, have a marked impact on reducing inflammation throughout the body. Americans typically have a 14:1 ratio of Omega-6 fats (found in meat and many grains) to Omega -3 fats. The ratio should be closer to 1:1 to 4:1.
- Diets high in antioxidants help reduce inflammation as they preserve healthy cells throughout the body. Berries, dark green leafy vegetables and other colorful fruits and vegetables are good sources of antioxidants.
- Protein is critical to the body’s ability to maintain its blood sugar and insulin levels and, thus, helps prevent inflammation. Aim for efficient sources in grass fed meats, and free range poultry and eggs.
- With autoimmune conditions especially, consider avoiding major immune system aggravators, including dairy, sugar, gluten and most grains, to reduce the inflammatory cytokines that tend to spike with their consumption.
- Exercise regularly. You don’t need to be an athlete, but daily, purposeful movement for at least 30 consecutive minutes is essential to your body’s ability to regulate hormones that are keeping your body inflamed, including insulin, cortisol and eicosanoids.
- Get adequate sleep, aiming for at least eight consecutive hours. Lack of sleep often results in sugar cravings and poor metabolism, and can induce insulin resistance.
- Lift your spirits and manage chronic stress through mindfulness exercises, laughter, music, physical activity, and connectedness to family and friends, and by removing stress triggers where possible. Insulin, cortisol and inflammatory cytokines spike during periods of stress; these interventions can act a buffers.
Reducing inflammation in our bodies can have a profound effect on how we feel in terms of our physical health and brain/mental health. While it takes daily, deliberate actions and choices to support one’s wellbeing, the impact is often well worth it with reduced symptoms, improved mood, and reversal of disease and overall better quality of life. If you have a chronic health condition, please consult your physician before making any significant diet and lifestyle changes.
Article provide by CBIZ Wellbeing Solutions; Wellbeing Insights issue 36, July 2018. To view full issue of the Wellbeing Insights, please click here.