How To Eat To Reduce Inflammation In The Body
Have you ever asked yourself “Why do I feel great some days and crappy on others? And what do those nagging symptoms actually mean?” Maybe your body is trying to tell you something. Inflammation is not always a bad thing. Actually it’s necessary for our survival. However, inflammation can become a problem when the symptoms of inflammation are long-term. Chronic inflammation in the body can potentially lead to very serious health complications. Low-grade chronic inflammation is a big deal these days, and let’s face it, probably we all have it! Let’s how to reduce inflammation naturally.
I know I do. I have Endometriosis – an autoimmune disease that also causes inflammation in the body! Because of it, I have a number of health issues associated with chronic inflammation – from allergies, chronic pain, skin issues, IBS, the list is too long for someone who’s in her early 30’s.
Over the past few years, I’ve changed my lifestyle, went all in green. I did it just because I wanted to feel a bit better. But chronic inflammation is apparently there, making me feel and look worse than I could without it. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t eat like a truck driver, I don’t drink, I’m always on diet trying to help my body. And hey, I don’t even think I stress too much or don’t sleep enough. I live with endometriosis and because of it my priority number one is myself.
No matter how healthy your diet, low-grade inflammation isn’t going away if stress levels run continuously high. And even if stress isn’t too much of daily problem, learning how to manage and cope when it does occur is key for preventing new inflammation.
Routinely not getting enough sleep (6 hours or less) triggers inflammation—even in healthy individuals—which research suggests increases risk for metabolic issues that can lead to obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, as well as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Acute inflammation often causes noticeable symptoms, such as pain, redness, or swelling. But chronic inflammation symptoms are usually subtler. This makes it easy to overlook.
What are the 5 classic signs of inflammation?
Now, I don’t know if you have chronic inflammation, and also I’m not a doctor, but if you:
are feeling tired and not able to sleep properly;
have an allergy or autoimmune disease;
have itchy skin;
have abdominal pain;
have chest pain;
then maybe you do have chronic inflammation as well. (These symptoms can range from mild to severe and last for several months or years)
I fight with inflammation everyday. I’m not a doctor but I know what works for me and I want to share it with you. The easiest way to reduce inflammation in the body is to change the way we eat. When we eat a certain way chronic inflammation goes away (or at least it will be reduced).
They call it an anti-inflammatory diet.
WHY DO WE NEED TO REDUCE INFLAMMATION?
What I’ve learned is that if I don’t do anything to help my body I have to live in pain every single day. And when I say pain….I mean it hurts A LOT.
But the reason I want to reduce inflammation is not only the endometriosis. Chronic inflammation it’s one of the most common denominators for many diseases, like Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, depression, arthritis, acne, psoriasis – all diseases that are associated with increased levels of inflammation in the body.
The scariest thing I’ve discovered is that chronic inflammation, in the end, leads to the damage and loss of functionality of our organs. Which is not a good thing.
Chronic inflammation is about more than pain and redness. It’s also about whole-body communication. And is why inflammation can really mess up our cycles as women. Every different part of the body needs to talk to each other, and our hormones are a big part of that communication. Hormones are messengers for period health.
According to The Period Repair Manual, our immune system also has messengers. When chronic inflammation is present in the body, the immune system messengers insert themselves in the “conversation” with our hormone messengers, resulting in “hormonal miscommunication.” This miscommunication can show up in many different ways, depending on your body, genetics, and other lifestyle factors.
For me, it’s extremely painful periods, pelvic pain, abdominal pain, IBS. It’s why eating anti-inflammatory is the first and most important change I made to reverse my endometriosis symptoms naturally.
How to reduce inflammation naturally
The answer is simple: you need to stuff your plate with anti-inflammatory foods and avoid or keep pro-inflammatory foods to a minimum. Because there are so many foods that cause inflammation.
Sounds easy right?
However, it’s so much more than a diet for me. It’s a way of living, it’s my medicine, it’s how I heal my body and how I feel my best. The anti-inflammatory diet is helping me reverse my endometriosis symptoms like I already mentioned – leaky gut, IBS, acne, pain, and anxiety. On top of eating anti-inflammatory foods, I’ve also been eating MORE healthy, real food. The more nutrient-rich food we eat, the more nutrients our bodies absorb!
PIN THIS FOR LATER
1. FOODS HIGH IN OMEGA 3’s
Omega-3 fatty acids may benefit your health in several ways.
They’re important for fetal growth and development and in adults for the brain, cardiovascular and skin health.
They’re shown to be important in the prevention of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune diseases like endometriosis.
Omega-3 fatty acids are an “essential fatty acid”, meaning the body cannot make them, so we must include them in our diet.
Here comes the interesting part. Looks like omega-3 fatty acids are rare to find. However, if you consume daily flax seeds, walnuts, chia seeds or hemp seeds you should be able to raise your omega-3 levels.
But that’s not enough. It’ good to know that these plant sources provide only ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) – the shorter among the omega-3 fatty acids. And we actually don’t use ALA in our bodies. In fact, what we actually need is EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). You need to get them directly from your diet. These two fatty acids are not found in plant food sources but are present in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel.
Even that I’m following the endometriosis diet that is a vegan diet, I still eat fish from time to time. The problem is that fish is not toxin-free these days, it’s recommended to have fish 2-3 times per week. So I eat fish once per month and I drink supplementation with fish oil.
You can read more about my favorite supplements here.
I eat omega-3-rich foods like salmon/mackerel once or twice per month, and flax seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, or chia seeds daily. I take fish oil supplements every day.
2. FOODS RICH IN POLYPHENOLS
Polyphenols are a category of plant compounds that offers various health benefits.
Polyphenols are active compounds that are naturally found in fruits, vegetables, cereals, and some beverages—like wine, coffee, and tea.
They have antioxidant and anti-aging properties and are shown to prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes, and allergies. The best part is that they are also anti-inflammatory.
Some examples of polyphenol-rich foods include broccoli, spinach, carrots, cabbage, red peppers, lemons, apples, strawberries, cranberries (seriously any berries) and many many many more. Another way to get some more polyphenols is drinking tea – green tea, rosehip, ginger, nettle, peppermint or even cinnamon tea – all these are anti-inflammatory.
Green tea leaves are packed with polyphenol compounds, which can help reduce free radical damage to stop further inflammation. Studies suggest that regularly drinking green tea can help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and joint conditions.
The point is, to reduce inflammation in the body: Eat as many vegetables as you can.
These leafy greens offer an anti-inflammatory double-punch, thanks to antioxidants and bioactive compounds that reduce inflammation and prevent free radicals from creating new inflammation.
3. SPICES AND HERBS
Spices and herbs are very powerful antioxidants, have detoxifying, anti-cancer, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Spices are not only good for fighting inflammation, but they also make our food taste better! Some great spices include turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and garlic.
There are also many different herbs that can help you reduce or prevent inflammation in your body. Adding some turmeric, rosemary, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and many others to your diet is easy and also super tasty.
FOODS THAT CAUSE INFLAMMATION
Sugar is a highly refined product with concentrated carbohydrates which have a negative effect on the symptoms of inflammation. Sugar, in all forms (refined, artificial or natural) produces a more acidic environment within the body that can encourage the inflammatory symptoms. Sugar causes tissue damage and insulin resistance because it generates inflammation in the liver that impairs insulin sensitivity. And too much insulin can impair ovulation.
Carbs are not so bad. They come with all the fiber, some protein, some fat and are not harmful. I’m talking about whole grains, legumes, fruit, and vegetables. The fiber in those kinds of carbs is what the good bacteria in your gut loves. Those carbs are good for your digestion and immunity.
On the other side, foods that contain gluten actually increase inflammation in the body. Gluten affects all people differently, but research has found that gluten (and wheat) have an inflammatory response in 6 out of 10 women.
Dairy and gluten are not usually inflammatory in healthy individuals (unless you have an allergy, intolerance, or celiac disease), but they can be irritating when there’s already existing inflammation. Some people may find it beneficial to cut out dairy, gluten, or both for a few weeks while eating a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods and low in inflammatory ones.
3. OMEGA-6 RICH FOODS
Omega-6 fatty acids are everywhere in our food. And they are not so bad. We just need to control them. Actually we need omega-6 fatty acids for brain health, to look good as they are important for skin.
Let’s go back and see where are these omega-6 fatty acids…they are everywhere. From red meat, vegetable and seed oils (corn, safflower, sunflower), most fast foods. Consuming too many omega-6 fatty acids makes your body produce increased amounts of pro-inflammatory molecules – if that happens all the time, you develop chronic inflammation.
4. SATURATED FATS
Saturated fats and trans fats linger in the body and release inflammatory proteins into the bloodstream. Meat, dairy products, baked goods, butter and margarine are the usual suspects.
Does dairy cause inflammation?
Saturated fats are found in red meat, milk, and dairy foods like cheese, butter, the holy coconut oil, and anything that’s made with them. Those are also fatty foods (aside from coconut oil) known to increase the risk of heart disease and colon cancer.
If you like having a nightly cocktail or glass of wine, consider abstaining for a few days. This doesn’t have to be long-term, but cutting out alcohol briefly (while making other anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle changes) helps the body calm down and reduce existing inflammation.
CHANGE YOUR COOKING METHODS
An anti-inflammatory diet begins with choosing the right foods that reduce inflammation, but it continues with using anti-inflammatory cooking methods to prepare those foods.
Cooking food at overly hot temperatures can increase inflammation in the body.
Avoid cooking with the lack of water. Anything that makes water disappear from your food is bad news.
The best way to prepare your food is steaming. Use a vegetable steamer, rice cooker, or bamboo steamer — or create your own steamer with a covered pot and slotted insert — to gently cook a variety of foods. Take care not to overcook vegetables, fish, or seafood. Marinate foods with herbs such as rosemary and sage before steaming, and add spices such as ginger and turmeric to foods while steaming to infuse the flavor into the food.
Or just eating more raw foods.
Yes, we have a long way to go with our relationships to food and our bodies, but let’s not forget how far we can go!