Can you conquer inflammation by changing your lifestyle?
Inflammation is a hot topic when it comes to managing your health. There are all sorts of remedies and solutions that focus on reducing inflammation. But what if I told you inflammation is a part of your bodies natural response? That makes it seem less scary, doesn't it? The definition of inflammation is: a physical condition in which the body becomes reddened, swollen, hot, and often painful as a result of injury or infection. (Source: Google) What isn't in the definition is the fact that the immune system uses inflammation as a guide to start fighting whatever is causing the inflammation.
There are two different types of inflammation, chronic and acute. Acute means inflammation happens very quickly and becomes severe but it typically only lasts a few days or a few weeks. Chronic inflammation takes months or years to develop and can be much harder to diagnose since symptoms may not be readily available and can be misdiagnosed. Examples of chronic inflammation are Chron's disease, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.
Inflammation can be quite painful. Often, doctor's prescribe pharmaceuticals that may be helpful in treating the pain but have other side effects. But what if you could manage inflammation with your lifestyle choices? Would you be willing to try other techniques to manage pain while you worked on getting your body into a highly energetic state so your immune system could take over and fight the inflammation?
I've always tried to remedy a health issue with natural solutions. I often feel that while my doctor may have good intentions to fight a specific ailment, Doctor's don't always view my body as a whole. Instead, they are thinking about an individual part that is having the issue. They may not realize that what they are prescribing can cause an issue with another body part. This is no fault of their own. Think about our medical system. I think we have doctor's for every part of the body. But who thinks about all the parts working together? You have to decide what is the right thing for you to do when it comes to treating your body. Just to be clear, I am not a doctor. So if you are working with your doctor on a health issue, you should discuss with him or her how to address your current health situation. You can also look for a holistic nutritionist to help you while you work with your doctor.
The benefit of fighting inflammation in the body is that it helps the immune system focus on areas it really needs to help. You may not realize this but our body wants to be healthy. The immune system will do everything it can to keep you healthy. Even with all the abuse we put our bodies through, such as not exercising, eating processed foods, eating fast foods, drinking alcohol and consuming way too much sugar. Now I am not saying you have to stop eating or drinking the things you love. What I am saying is that by focusing 80% of the time on a healthy lifestyle, you can still have a cheat day and stay healthy. The interesting thing is once you make a lifestyle change, you are more likely to keep to that lifestyle and the cheat days will be fewer and fewer.
One of the simplest things you can do to support your immune system is to eat organic, stop drinking soda and drink water (lots of it). Organic foods are free of pesticides and chemicals. Also, they have a higher nutrient content compared to conventional foods. This means, the nutrients can help support your body by giving your cells the nutrition they need to help fight inflammation. Nutrients are the key! But what nutrients?
Here are some key nutrients that you can get from foods to fight inflammation:
Bromelain found in pineapples. Bromelain has been shown in clinical human trials to reduce inflammatory conditions such as acute sinusitis, sore throat, arthritis, gout and speeding recovery from injuries or surgery. Pineapples should be eaten alone or the bromelain, which is an enzyme, will be busy helping to digest other foods.
Monounsaturated fats found in olives. Monounsaturated fats are an important component of the cell membrane which can lower the risk of cellular damage and inflammation.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids found in fish. Most of us are deficient in omega-3's because the typical diet is heavy in omega-6's. This causes an imbalance in our health since omega-3's help fight inflammation and omega-6's promote inflammation. Omega-3 helps the inflammation response because it plays a role in the production of hormone-like substances in the body. Without regulating these substances, the body becomes fatigued and more likely to succumb to disease. If you are vegetarian, brussels sprouts are one of the best options.
Vitamin D found in shrimp and sardines. Vitamin D has the ability to help regulate the immune system activity, which will help reduce the time the immune system focuses on inflammatory responses. There is some research that shows vitamin D may have benefits on hypertension and Type 1 diabetes. (Source: World's Healthiest Foods) If you are vegetarian, mushrooms are a good option for vitamin D.
Quercetin found in apples. The saying really is true: an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Quercetin is a flavonoid which is an antioxidant and it helps to fight free radicals in the body. It has anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a great natural remedy for allergies.
There are also spices and herbs that you can use to help fight inflammation. Ginger and turmeric are two that are easy to find in a variety of foods or drinks or in dried forms to add to recipes. I love making avocado toast at home and sprinkling it with turmeric and black pepper. You need black pepper with turmeric to activate the turmeric's protective properties.
While anti-inflammatory support can come from foods you are eating, to ensure you are getting therapeutic doses, supplements are needed. Unfortunately, while we can pick really healthy organic food to eat, we would have to eat a lot of those foods to get the levels of nutrients necessary to fight inflammation. Let's also face it, on a day to day basis, our routines or lifestyles may not allow for us to eat the most healthy foods 100% of the time. This is also where supplements can help us fight inflammation. Below are some recommended doses of popular inflammation fighters. As with any lifestyle change, make sure to tell your doctor what supplements you are going to take to ensure there are not interactions with any pharmaceuticals you may be taking.
Turmeric: 500 mg - 2000 mg. Look for supplements with a curcumin concentration. While this dose may sound like a lot, the Indian diet supplies 2,000 to 2,500 mg daily. (Source: Healthline) I like the brand aSquared Nutrition that can be purchased on Amazon.
Vitamin D: 400 IU - 800 IU. You can take higher amounts of vitamin D. One important factor is to have your Vitamin D levels tested. Your doctor can then recommend the amount you should take. If you are found deficient, you may need to take a much higher dose or even get shots until your levels are in normal range.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: 1,000 mg. There isn't an official dose of omega-3's but Harvard Public Health states 1,000 mg daily seems to be the daily dose that most people can get anti-inflammatory benefits from.
Quercetin: 100 mg - 250 mg. There isn't an official dose for quercetin but since this supplement can help with allergies such as hay fever, it is appropriate to try different doses and see how you feel. Start small and then increase as you see fit.
These are just a few of the foods and supplements that can help fight unhealthy levels of inflammation in the body. Also, including movement and breathing practices everyday can help your body fight inflammation. As the headline of this post states, lifestyle changes are the key to fighting inflammation and helping your body get healthy. All you have to do is decide you want to be healthy.
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