Fighting inflammation starts with defining inflammation. What is inflammation? According to WebMd :
“Inflammation is a process by which the body’s white blood cells and substances they produce protect us from infection with foreign organisms, such as bacteria and viruses. However, in some diseases, like arthritis, the body’s defense system — the immune system — triggers an inflammatory response when there are no foreign invaders to fight off. In these diseases, calledautoimmune diseases, the body’s normally protective immune system causes damage to its own tissues. The body responds as if normal tissues are infected or somehow abnormal.”
According to Medical News Today inflammation is:
“Inflammation is part of the body’s immune response. Initially, it is beneficial when, for example, your knee sustains a blow and tissues need care and protection. However, sometimes inflammation can cause further inflammation; it can become self-perpetuating. More inflammation is created in response to the existing inflammation. Plaque in coronary artery disease linked to inflammation – scientists from Stanford University, California, linked 25 new genetic regions to coronary artery disease. They found that people with coronary artery disease, the leading cause of death globally, are most likely predisposed to the disease because they have gene variants linked to inflammation.”
Inflammation, in short, is the body’s attempt to fight a foreign substance or injury. It is how we heal. However, many times, with all of the toxic exposure of life, our immune systems become overworked and stay in a constant, systemic state of inflammation. This isn’t healthy.
What kind of damage can chronic inflammation cause and how do we fight inflammation naturally?
When inflammation is NOT helpful:
When the body becomes chronically inflamed, due to an overactive or dysfunctional immune system, damage begins to occur on a systemic level.
More and more frequently diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, dementia, etc. are linked to chronic inflammation.
The Mercola website has a great chart that list diseases caused by chronic inflammation. SEE THE CHART HERE.
Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine says: “Inflammation is one of the common denominators of disease. Every chronic disease is an inflammatory disease. No matter what so-called disease you have, from cancer to the common cold, inflammation is a major part of your problem. Learning how to prevent and reverse inflammation will go a long way toward preventing and reversing almost all disease, as well as slowing the aging process, keeping us healthy, biologically young and vigorous for a lifetime.”
What causes chronic inflammation?
Inflammation is caused by injury or illness, and is a necessary and good response by the body. But, in the case of chronic inflammation, the culprit is typically a little more cryptic. Chronic inflammation is caused by toxins, foods, environmental exposures, medications, or just about anything that the body views as an unnatural substance.
With today’s refined, processed, sugary diet, an environment laden with toxic chemicals, medications for every sniffle, and constant stress; is it really any wonder that we are suffering with more and more diseases related to this condition?
How does diet cause inflammation? According to Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine, one dietary culprit is this:
“How does our diet cause inflammation? One way is our excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates. Sugar and white flour are deadly poisons that have an inflammatory effect on the body. Unaware of this, the average American consumes more than 160 pounds of sugar and 200 pounds of white flour per year. Sugar and white flour increase blood sugar, and even a modest increase in blood sugar generates pro-inflammatory chemicals. Most people eat these poisons daily in the form of bread, pasta, breakfast cereal, cookies, cakes, soft drinks, candy, etc.”
Keeping inflammation under control is one of the most important steps we can take to heal our body and prevent future diseases? But how? What steps can we take to clear up inflammation that is already there and prevent future inflammation?
First, and probably most important, is healing the gut. More and more research is showing that there is a huge link between our overall gut health and overall immune system health. One of the best places to start improving gut health is with good probiotics. Naturally occurring probiotics are found in fermented foods, kombucha, yogurt, etc. These are the best and most beneficial probiotics. However, if you are like most of us, getting all these things in a natural, raw, probiotic rich form, is a little overwhelming. In that case, a great second choice is a probiotic supplement. There are many choices available, but the best choices are those that require refrigeration and are probably a little more pricey. If you can’t splurge on the expensive stuff, at least find a quality brand that requires refrigeration and comes with good reviews. Read those ingredients
There will soon be a “Gut Health” post going up. There I will discuss why we must heal our guts and how to do it.
Secondly, lowering stress, and stress hormones can greatly reduce the body’s inflammatory load. See my 3 part series on stress, reliving stress, and natural treatments for stress here: “Stress Part 1“, “Stress Part 2“, “Stress Part 3“. Stress, even the kind you don’t know you are under, creates an environment inside the body that causes an increase in inflammation.
Next, lowering your environmental toxin exposure as much as possible. Eliminate harmful chemicals in your home, look at the ingredients on anything that you put in or on your body. Take a survey of your workplace, even look at the detergent you are washing your clothes in. Harmful chemicals are everywhere, ELIMINATE everything you can. Replace cleaners, soaps, beauty products, etc with more natural and less toxic alternatives.
I am in LOVE with Pure Haven Essentials for all of my home and beauty needs.
Finally, the most IMPORTANT move you can make in fighting inflammation: DIETARY CHANGES
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Refined grains
- Processed dairy
- Overcooked meats
- Food dyes
- Nitrates & Nitrites
- Pretty much anything refined, processed, fried, over-cooked, boxed, prepackaged, ready made.
- Fresh veggies
- Fresh fruit
- Fish high in Omega 3 (from a safe source)
- Green leafy veggies
- Probiotic rich foods
- Consider switching to raw dairy
- Sprouted grain breads
Basically, eating a real-food, variety rich, whole foods diet will work to greatly reduce the inflammation load in your body.
For more information on anti-inflammatory diets follow these links.
The best known, natural, anti-inflammatory it turmeric. You can use it in cooking, teas, or even encapsulate it. I add it to almost all rice, stir-fry, meats, soups, etc now. It is so easy to use. Many people have weaned themselves from anti-inflammatory drugs by replacing them with turmeric. (DO NOT use any supplements without consulting your doctor).
Here are some great links listing many ways to use turmeric.
- LIVESTRONG: Turmeric
- Dr. Weil: Three Reasons for Turmeric
- Food Babe: 15 Ways to use turmeric
- Healthline: Turmeric & Other Anti-inflammatory Spices
- Get plenty of rest
- Do not use tobacco, alcohol and drugs
- Lose weight
- Keep blood sugar levels stable
- Keep blood pressure low
Read these other great articles on Fighting Inflammation:
- Women to Women
- The Cleveland Clinic
- SCD Lifestyle (this is a great post that even discusses tests your doctor can do to check for chronic inflammation)
- Prevention Magazine
- Time Magazine
Are you fighting inflammation? Sometimes the symptoms may be hard to spot. So many things in our lives cause inflammation. To prevent inflammation and the problems caused by it, start getting healthy, eating healthy, and using natural supplements. I promise you will feel better than you ever have.