Today we are going to talk inflammation. I am sure you have heard this word bouncing around fitness and health blogs many times before. But do you really understand WHAT inflammation is, what CAUSES inflammation and HOW you can naturally reduce inflammation in your body? If you would like to learn more about this vital natural process and how to maximise your recovery from inflammation, you’re in the right place.
Inflammation happens when your body is exposed to something harmful, like an allergic reaction, trauma to muscle tissue, pathogens (germs and bacteria) or high intensity exercise. In response to these potentially harmful stimuli, your body attempts to protect itself and initiates it’s healing process. Inflammation is essentially your body’s built-in mechanical immune response.
There are two types of inflammation, namely acute and chronic inflammation. Acute inflammation begins very quickly and is associated with a lot of pain over a short space of time. Chronic inflammation on the other hand occurs over a long period of time and can last for months, even years (ever heard of arthritis?). Infections, wounds and damaged tissues (like muscles or ligaments) would never heal without the presence of inflammation, so you shouldn’t think that inflammation is bad. Inflammation is important and necessary and part of the healing process. HOWEVER chronic, long-term inflammation eventually leads to disease and cancers. So the aim is to eliminate this chronic inflammation from your life, especially inflammation caused from inflammatory foods. But more about that later.
Let’s begin by understanding the process of inflammation…
Inflammation of your muscles and soft tissues occurs as a result of injury. When this inflammation occurs, chemicals from the body’s white blood cells are released into the blood stream or affected tissues to protect your body from foreign substances. This release of chemicals increases blood flow to the area of injury or infection, and usually results in redness and warmth. When your body is faced with potential harm (like chronic infection or repeated injury) it is the body’s natural immune response to become inflamed. This cushions your cells in a hot, cellular fluid, flooding them with white bloods cells and other delicious nutrients, readying your body to fight off any bad guys. It is a natural defensive strategy. However, chronic inflammation can be the leading cause of disease and is a recipe for disaster, especially for those who want to compete as athletes or live a healthy, cancer-free life.
It is becoming increasingly clear that chronic inflammation is the root cause of many serious illnesses – including heart disease, many cancers, and Alzheimer’s disease. And when this type of inflammation persists, without a real reason to be around, it causes damage and disease. Factors like stress, lack of exercise and exposure to environmental toxins all contribute to your body’s inflammatory response. But the primary cause and irritation leading to inflammatory related disease is actually your diet.
It is important to learn how specific foods can contribute to your body’s overall inflammatory response so you can make choices and take steps to lower your inflammation levels over the long term.
Choosing foods based on scientific knowledge of how they can optimally help your body reduce an inflammatory response is a wise move. Especially since we live in such a toxic world. Following a natural anti-inflammatory diet will provide steady energy and ample vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids dietary fiber, and protective phytonutrients. Here is my list of the top 6 foods you can add to your diet TODAY to reduce inflammation and instantly become healthier.
- Green tea and Oolong tea (2-4 cups per day)
Tea is rich in catechins and antioxidant compounds that assist in reducing inflammation. It is important that you spend a little extra boodle on a high-quality tea and learn how to correctly brew it for maximum taste and health benefits.
- Animal based omega-3 fats. The best source of omega-3 fats is sustainably fished wild salmon or river trout. A Krill Oil supplement is also an excellent source, or you can find a good quality Omega-3 EPA/DHA supplement.
- Ginger is a magnificent anti-inflammatory herb and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea or grated into vegetable juice. Powder capsules are also available, but I recommend using the fresh root
- Resveratrol is a potent antioxidant found in certain fruits, vegetables and cocoa that is emerging as a modern-day fountain of youth. The science surrounding this compound is so compelling that I try include it daily in my diet. Resveratrol is found in grapes and abundantly in red wine. These are your best bet when trying to up your Resveratrol levels. However it is also found in smaller quantities in other foods including cocoa, dark chocolate and peanuts.
- Avoid foods cooked at very high temperatures, especially animal proteins. When you char animal fat is becomes extremely carcinogenic (meaning it will increase your chances of developing cancer cells in your body). Meat that is over cooked (past the point of medium rare, you know when it’s bleeding a little) is pro-inflammatory and not your body’s friend. Eggs that are over boiled or fried till they are very hard are also very pro-inflammatory. Try enjoy food that is cooked at a lower heat, and for a shorter period of time. Your body will thank you later on, I promise.
- Avoid sugar and processed foods. READ ALL the ingredients on the back of processed foods. If it contains cane sugar/fructose/corn syrup or any other ingredient that resembles sugar, don’t put it in your mouth.
My favorite past time is adding one raw meal to my daily eating plan. So I aim to eat a completely raw meal for lunch or dinner, every day. This means a giant, juicy green salad that feeds my body and nourishes all my systems. Give it a try!
Silent inflammation can wreck your health. So take the necessary steps today and you will experience extraordinary benefits from your head to your toes, bones to skin.