Last week I started diving into the topic of chronic inflammation, which is a pretty in-depth and very important topic in today’s health world. Because of the vastness of this topic I am breaking up the information into multiple blog posts, so it is easier for you all to take in! Today’s post is a general guide for anyone who is trying to reduce chronic inflammation. There are numerous factors that play a part in each individual’s inflammation and it is important to remember that as you begin tackling this dis-ease, you will most likely have to create a lifestyle modification plan that is specific to your needs. These 9 steps are great to get anyone started, but because of the numerous factors taking part in inflammation as you begin to dig deeper into your personal accord you will most likely find that additional steps will need to be taken to get you living a life free of inflammation.
There are numerous factors that contribute to chronic inflammation including poor nutrition, food allergies/ sensitivities, environmental toxins, genetics, reliance on medication, stress and limited physical activity.
The above mentioned are all things that we have the ability to drastically reduce, change, or eliminate from our daily lives. The first step in doing so is by incorporating some simple lifestyle modifications into your daily life.
Below you will find my Top 9 Lifestyle Modifications to get you started in tackling your chronic inflammation.
For more information on what exactly chronic inflammation is check out last weeks blog post “Do You Have Underlying or “Chronic” Inflammation?”
And then head back here to read how you can combat it!!
1) Choose a diet rich in whole fruits and vegetables
I don’t know of any proper health or healing plan that does not include whole fruits and vegetables as an essential aspect of healing. Our food can be our medicine if we choose wisely and allow it to help us heal. In order for our bodies to heal and support themselves they need ample amounts of vitamins and minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and amino acids just to name a few… where can we find ample amounts of such things?…. That’s right! Fruits and Veggies!!!!!
The easiest way for me to ensure I am getting my fair share of fruit and veg is by using the pie chart method, where at least 50% of my plate at each meal consists of fruit and vegetables. The rest of my plate then consists of healthy proteins, fats, and starches.
2) Eat healthy fats & avoid dangerous fats:
When it comes to nutrition these days it seems every day there is some new fact to follow about what we should eat and what we should not eat. I feel that fat is one of those we hear about a lot… one day we are being told fats are good for us and the next day we are being told that low-fat diets are the way to go… So what truly is the skinny on fats these days?…
It is important to know the difference between good fat and bad fat. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are good fats. These fats are found in foods like wild-caught salmon, fresh sardines (not canned/ processed), avocado, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseed, hemp seeds, and some dark leafy greens are nutritional warriors when it comes to combating inflammation.
It is very important when formulating a proper diet for yourself that you avoid low-fat diets and instead focus on including healthy fats into your diet and avoiding unhealthy fats.
So what are unhealthy fats?
The saturated and trans fats such as those found in red meats, dairy, and processed foods.
3) Include a Well Balanced Amount of Clean Protein Sources:
Protein Protein Protein…. Such a beautiful, powerful macro-nutrient that fuels our bodies for growth, healing, and repairing of tissues, making it a key element in tackling inflammation!
But just like those fats we are so fond of, it is very important to know the difference between good proteins and bad proteins. It is very important to keep in mind the idea that “too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing.” Although protein is essential to the healing and repair of the human body, too much of it (especially animal protein) is known to be a leading cause of chronic inflammation.
There are many different ways in which our bodies react with animal proteins that contribute to chronic inflammation. Really it is a topic vast enough to have its own blog post, but I will briefly state here that the main reason animal proteins are linked to inflammation is that they elevate levels of the C-reactive protein in our bodies. In the simplest of terms, the C-reactive protein is a plasma protein produced by our liver when inflammation is suspected.
Introducing more plant-based proteins into your diet is a great way to ensure you are getting all the healthy proteins your body needs while limiting animal proteins. Sources such as beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and vegetables are all ideal protein sources.
4) Avoid Refined Sugar and Processed Foods:
The research in the area of refined sugar and processed foods, and the unhealthy roles they play in our lives is becoming very vast. At this point there is no denying it… all that delicious refined sugar and processed foods that have become a staple in today’s Standard American Diet (SAD) are being proven time and time again that they are a top contributor in chronic inflammation and disease.
Just like those unhealthy proteins we were just talking about, sugar is also known to increase the levels of the C-reactive protein related to inflammation. Among many other things, sugar also spikes our blood sugar levels, which in turn increases the production of our inflammatory cytokines, otherwise known as the chemical messengers related to our immune response.
And then to throw processed foods into the mix.. All the chemicals, preservatives, additives, artificial food dyes, synthetic vitamins and minerals, unhealthy fats, added sugars, and refined carbs… Do I need to say more?
5) Drink Lots of Water
Hydration is key in combating inflammation… it is pretty simple when it comes to what we should be drinking and why… water is life… our bodies are made up of over 60% water… that fact alone should be enough for us to understand why we need to consume plenty of water…
The recommended dose of daily H2O is 8 cups per day… for some, this can be very hard as water is not very appetizing to many people. To me, water is the most delicious refreshing thing ever, so it’s hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that to some it is literally disgusting to drink. Thankfully there are many ways in which we can make water tastier, and still reap the hydrating benefits of this liquid life.
A high-quality water filtration system can do wonders for the taste of your water, as well as ensure you are drinking clean toxin-free water. This is especially important when drinking city water that has been treated.
Adding lemon to your water is probably the most common, simplest solution for those who struggle with the mundane flavor of water. Cucumber and mint are also two easy additions to spice up your glass of H2O!
6) Drink Herbal Teas:
Drinking herbal tea is another great way to make it seem like you are drinking something more than just water. The great thing with herbal teas is that they flavor up your water, as well as add extra nutrients to it. Teas such as turmeric and green tea are both great for tackling inflammation as they are packed full of immune-supporting antioxidants known as warriors in fighting inflammation.
Here at Sei Mee Tea we have a handful of different teas that fall into this category of inflammation warriors!
Our Anti-Inflammatory adaptogen Blend is packed full of turmeric, ashwagandha, panax ginseng, black pepper, cinnamon, and cardamon. A product that can be sipped as tea, cooked into soups, and mixed into sauces and dressings, it is one of my personal favorites to have in my cupboard!
In addition to our anti-inflammatory blend, any of our green teas will also be great additions to your daily diet. My personal favorite for fighting inflammation is our Matcha Ginger blend. Both of these teas are among the top of the list (with turmeric of course!) for inflammation fighting plant foods.
Other herbs such as basil, dill, fennel, rosemary, and cloves are also showing promising results in combating inflammation.
7) Manage Stress
Stress… that unavoidable nuisance that we all are becoming way too accustomed to… It is so easy in today’s day and age to put our stress levels on the back burner while we tackle the to-do lists that will get us to the top of that ladder American society has portrayed as “The Dream”. Well, more and more scientific studies are proving the importance of bringing our stress levels to the front of our attention. High-stress levels is now linked to numerous if not all chronic disease. When we really break it down, stress is the worst toxin we can expose our bodies to!!
Stress is actually similar to inflammation in the sense that a small amount of “acute” stress can be a good thing… It sends our bodies into that fight or flight mode that ignites us to get things done, or get out of harm’s way…
As with inflammation, when it becomes chronic it becomes a SERIOUS health concern. The easiest way for me to explain the negative role chronic stress plays in our bodies is that it messes with our hormones, hormones, which are the messengers of our body systems. When our hormone levels are out of whack, our body systems will follow suit. Hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline play a huge role in balancing our emotions, the function of our immune system, and the permeability of our gut, just to name a few.
After a while, chronic stress will no doubt wear down your adrenal glands causing adrenal fatigue which results in lethargic mood and cognitive issues, digestive conditions, food sensitivities, low sex drive, food cravings, and INFLAMMATION.
There are many ways in which we can lower our stress levels, some being easier and more convenient while others may require drastic lifestyle changes depending on your own personal lifestyle.
I could talk about stress management for days, but for now, I will just share with you my favorite way to reduce my stress levels which is spending time in nature.
The importance of nature in dealing with chronic stress spans far and wide benefiting mind, body, and soul!
“Earthing” is a newer scientific term that explains the effects and importance of nature and overall health. Specifically covering the idea that walking barefoot outside allows us to connect to the healing energy from deep inside the earth, it is now being linked to all-time spent in nature. By touching a tree or sitting outside feeling the wind caress your skin, or listening to the birds chirping in your backyard for a few minutes each afternoon you can tap into that healing energy, almost instantly lowering your stress levels.
Earthing has been scientifically proven to:
Reduce or eliminate inflammation
Reduce or eliminate chronic pain
Regulate sleep patterns
Increase energy and vitality
Lower stress and promote calming of the body by cooling down the nervous system and stress hormones
Normalize biological rhythms
Relieve muscle tension and headaches
Lessen hormonal and menstrual symptom
8) Eliminate Environmental Toxins:
In today’s consumer world the inundation of toxic products is unavoidable. No matter how clean and toxic-free we try to live in one way or another we are going to be exposed. This fact is not the cheeriest or most encouraging when trying to tackle environmental toxins in your own daily life, but it is important to be aware of the reality we are dealing with when it comes to our environment today.
The most important thing we can do in a somewhat helpless situation is to reduce and eliminate environmental toxins as much as possible.
We have already touched base on the quality of our food, but I will say it again – that organic, non-GMO, sustainably raised food is going to be the cleanest route we can take in our mission of eliminating toxins from our lives.
Being aware of heavy metal contamination and endocrine disruptors is also very important. Heavy metal toxicity is being defined as a leading source of inflammation today! Heavy metals such as lead and mercury are just a couple among the list that is found hidden throughout numerous products and the food we are exposed to on a daily.
These heavy metals along with other chemicals such as Bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates, PFCS, parabens, triclosan, and triphenyl phosphate are all known to have adverse health effects on the human body, especially contributing to chronic inflammation.
9) Regulate Sleep
This Thomas Decker quote says it all… sleep ties it all together for us. Without a healthy sleep cycle, all the above mentioned lifestyle modifications will probably be way less effective. This is due to the fact that through sleep our bodies, rest, re-energize and heal. It is so essential for our overall health, especially when dealing with disease and inflammation to have a healthy sleep cycle. Through a healthy sleep cycle our bodies will have the time and energy to put to use all the good you have been doing through the above-mentioned.
Just a few things our bodies do while we are asleep…
Detox, absorb nutrients, repair damaged cells and tissues, balance hormones, circulate chemicals that strengthen the immune system, and the brain processes and restructures information received throughout your day!
All things that play a role in inflammation!
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.
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Meet the Author: Mackenzie