Inflammation is an indicator that something’s up. It is one way your body may respond to injury or illness. According to Dr Lam, “In a healthy body, the fire of acute inflammation is tightly controlled: it turns on at the right time to battle invaders and start the repair process, and just as critically, it turns off so that the body can get back to its normal functions. The turning off process is controlled by cortisol, our body’s anti-stress hormone. While inflammation itself is an unpleasant process, your body is designed to tolerate some inflammation and to control it. Research has revealed, however, that low-level chronic inflammation can simmer quietly and insidiously in the body, in the absence of overt trauma or infection, and have profound effects on our physical and mental health.”
Chronic stress and inflammation
In acute situations, then, inflammation is a mechanism for healing. Chronic inflammation, however, puts the body into a state of stress and opens the body to deep imbalance. A stressed body engages the sympathetic nervous system or that fight-or-flight response which may manifest as problems with sleep, anxiety, blood sugar, sexual dysfunction, fatigue, brain fog, memory, chronic pain, and impaired immune function.
Chronic stress may lead to a leaky gut; leaky gut allows undigested foods, bacteria, yeast, and other pathogens into the bloodstream, where they trigger inflammation. It is this chronic inflammation that leads to many health issues. In this article, we will be discussing some simple ways to say goodbye to inflammation.
1. Cut down inflammatory foods
Processed foods like alcohol, dairy, gluten, and processed snacks have been revealed in study after study to show that they are offenders and may trigger inflammation. If you want to dive a little deeper, consider eliminating the top 8 most common allergens for 4-6 weeks and see how your body responds. Eggs, cow’s milk/dairy, gluten, soy, corn, peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish make up the list.
2. Improve healthy eating habits
“Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” is what Michael Pollan recommends and he’s not alone. Whether you prefer high fat low carb, the Meditteranean diet or you follow your intuition, you’ll likely find that you feel best eating fresh, seasonal, whole foods. Prepare things simply. Slow down, chew, and enjoy your meals. Healthy eating is as much about how you eat as it is what you eat!
“Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” – Michael PollanTweet
Opt for organics where possible. Download my guide of the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen for tips on where to focus your spending. You can read my blog about how to eat organic for less here.
And ditch the processed foods and fats. Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, and grape seed oil can all be part of a healthy anti-inflammatory diet.
Here are some great anti-inflammatory ingredients you can use in your smoothies. (or just enjoy on their own)
3. Keep Cortisol under control
Elevated cortisol is a sign of stress. Cortisol changes in response to illness, fear, diet, insomnia, fatigue, and chronic stress. Establish a healthy sleep pattern, get enough Vitamin C, and focus on happiness, joy, and less stress. Your adrenals will thank you, and your risk of chronic inflammation will reduce.
4. Monitor your Vitamin D intake
Vitamin D is a vital hormone for immune health. In a study on inflammation, researchers note that “Some authorities now believe that low (vitamin D) is a consequence of chronic inflammation rather than the cause.” However, sunshine and supplementation can help tip the balance and possibly keep chronic inflammation at bay! A simple blood test will confirm your levels. Consult a doctor for help determining your Vitamin D status so you can take action if necessary!
Simple shifts can make a big impact on your health. Rather than resigning to a life of chronic inflammation and hormonal imbalance, take small steps every day and get support from knowledgeable professionals.