Reducing Inflammation (and Pain) Naturally
Pain, swelling, redness, immobility, and heat — these are all common signs of inflammation, but these signs only go skin deep. Chronic inflammation also manifests on the inside of our bodies and can present itself in other ways. When inflammation triggers sensory nerve endings, it can result in symptoms such as fatigue, rashes, and chest, abdominal, and joint pain.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a natural function with a bad reputation. It’s a word most of us associate with pain, discomfort, and poor health — but would you believe inflammation is really there to help us? Without inflammation, injuries could fester and infections could turn deadly!
When the body is injured, inflammation is a signal to the immune system to send white blood cells to begin the healing process. Unfortunately, when inflammation continues for too long, it has the potential to trigger a host of other chronic health issues in the body including cancers, depression, and asthma. In fact, some say inflammation is the “new cholesterol” due to its direct link to heart disease.
In some cases, inflammation occurs when the immune system revolts against us and attacks our own bodies. Autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, and IBD, among dozens of others. There are, in fact, over 80 different autoimmune diseases.
Top Tips to Reduce Inflammation
First, let’s take a quick look at inflammatory foods that you definitely don’t want to put into your body. You probably already know all the usual suspects by name – sugar and artificial sweeteners, fried foods and saturated fats, processed meats and grains, dairy, caffeine, and alcohol. These foods can disrupt gut bacteria, spike insulin levels, and bolster inflammation. Definitely not the foods you want to be consuming if you’re prone to inflammatory responses!
So just what are anti-inflammatory foods? We’ve got a whole list of suggestions for you…and they’re delicious!
- Eat Raw, Organic Fruits & Veggies
Organic foods are a great place to start when looking to adhere to a more anti-inflammatory diet. Grown in mineral-dense soil, organic foods tend to be more alkalizing and have a higher vitamin and mineral content.
In order to keep those vitamin and mineral levels high, it’s also helpful to eat raw fruits and veggies, which are known as life-giving foods. Cooking can deplete minerals, which is why it’s important to take every opportunity you can to get eat fresh and raw so you get to enjoy the full nutritional benefits. For example, Vitamin K is found in raw, dark, leafy greens like broccoli and spinach, and is excellent for reducing inflammation.
- Add in lots of Alkaline foods
In addition to fruits and vegetables, nuts and legumes are also alkaline foods that can help balance your pH and reduce acidity. Surprisingly though, take note that acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus actually aren’t the source of acidity in the body. Instead they may actually help to restore your pH balance. Even apple cider vinegar is alkaline-forming (however, other vinegars are not).
- Fish & Plant Proteins
Believe it or not, most high protein foods, like meat, can be the culprits in building up acid in the body. In this case, plant proteins, such as almonds and beans, are great alternatives to reduce acidity and inflammation.
Need your meat? Then eat more fish. Fish oils, as well as other foods rich in healthy fats like omega 3, are proven to have a variety of health benefits, including significant anti-inflammatory effects.
Fish is also a great source of Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with a wide range of inflammatory conditions.
- Antioxidant-Rich Foods
Those susceptible to chronic inflammation may also benefit from supplementing their diets with food sources that contain bioactive molecules. For example, curcumin is the compound found in turmeric root that gives curry its bright yellow color. A powerful antioxidant, curcumin’s ability to reduce brain inflammation has been shown to be beneficial on both Alzheimer’s disease and major depression. Curcumin has been shown to not only prevent memory problems from worsening, but also to improve memory health!
Complement your curry with a little watercress salad on the side, including pears, dill weed, onion, and chives – all sources of the antioxidant known as isorhamnetin.
Add a little red wine and some berries for dessert, which are rich in resveratrol, and you’ve got yourself an anti-inflammatory party. Resveratrol is an antioxidant produced by certain plants in response to injury or when under attack by bacteria or fungi. This is what makes dark-coloured grapes and berries such excellent health boosters for your body.
And of course, you can’t forget the dark chocolate! Not only is it a treat, but the flavonoids found in cacao are extremely potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, which are great for your brain and your heart. New research also shows that consuming dark chocolate with a high concentration of cacao (minimum 70% with 30% organic cane sugar) has a positive effect on stress levels and inflammation, while also improving your memory, immunity, and mood. You read that right – chocolate really is good for you (but make sure its good quality and that you are not over doing it).
- Going Beyond Diet- get your stress in check!
While diet definitely plays a role, stress is also a major contributor to inflammation in the body. Stress can be triggered by lack of sleep, lifestyle changes, or any other number of factors. Getting a good night’s rest and making time to meditate or practice other stress-reducing activities, like yoga or Tai chi, are also very effective ways to promote good health and reduce inflammation.
All it takes is a few conscious decisions about your diet and lifestyle and you are on your way to a healthier you.
Are you dealing with chronic health issues triggered by inflammation? Do you still have more questions about how you can make greater changes towards a pain-free life? Would you love support in developing a customized approach to managing your inflammation and preventing disease? Please feel free to contact us, and we can find your best solutions together. Call us at (519) 954-7950 or email info@HealthSourceIMC.com.
To your best health!
The Team at HealthSource Integrative Medical Centre