In 2019, it’s very likely that you’ve heard a doctor or nurse mention inflammation, or heard about the benefits of an ‘anti-inflammatory’ diet.
While some inflammation is necessary and plays a vital role in protecting the body, too much inflammation can cause serious harm. So what causes excess inflammation and how can you reduce it naturally?
Inflammation 101: What Is Inflammation
Inflammation is the body’s healing process. It is an immune system response to an infection, illness or injury, and it is characterized by heat, swelling, pain, or tenderness. Inflammation can happen just about anywhere in the body: from joints to muscles to the digestive system and other organs.
There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is short-term and localized. It is generally caused by conditions such as external physical trauma (think bruises), cuts, sore throats, and even high-intensity exercises. In these situations, inflammation is beneficial and helps the body heal. It’s usually a sign the immune system is doing its job.
On the other hand, chronic inflammation is long-term, lasting months or years, and negatively affects the entire system. While chronic inflammation can be triggered by an autoimmune disease or environmental irritant, it can also be caused by the failure to relieve acute inflammation.
What Causes Inflammation?
A person doesn’t have to have an autoimmune disease to experience elevated levels of inflammation.
In fact, there are many factors that contribute to inflammation.
- Obesity – Some studies have linked obesity to increased levels of inflammation.
- Stress – Stress activates an immune response, which can lead to chronic inflammation if stress levels are constantly elevated.
- Certain foods – Foods like refined sugar and carbohydrates can contribute to inflammation.
- High blood sugar and insulin resistance – Both can contribute to high levels of inflammation.
- Sleeplessness – A lack of sleep can also contribute to elevated inflammation.
How to Reduce Inflammation Naturally
As mentioned above, some inflammation is good, but chronic inflammation is bad for the body in many ways. So, how can it be controlled?
Well, there are many lifestyle changes that can be implemented to help reduce inflammation naturally.
What You Eat Matters
Diet contributes to inflammation in the body, with some foods increasing the inflammatory response, and others decreasing it.
Foods that Cause Inflammation (AVOID):
1. Excess alcohol
Consuming too much alcohol can have many negative effects, including causing inflammation in the body. Studies show that alcohol increases CRP in the blood, which are markers of increased inflammation. Excess alcohol can also lead to “leaky gut” syndrome, which can cause inflammation throughout the body.
2. Highly-refined sugar and carbohydrates
When carbohydrates are refined to make foods such as white bread and pasta, all fiber is removed in the process. Since many “good” gut bacteria feed on fiber, research suggests that refined carbohydrates feed inflammatory gut bacteria and encourage their growth. Consequently, this can lead to obesity and inflammatory bowel disease.
3. Processed meats
Processed meats include sausages, hot dogs, bacon, jerky and deli meats. The problem with processed meats is that they contain advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which are known to contribute to increased inflammation.
4. Any Foods Containing Trans Fats
Avoid artificially occurring trans-fats like the plague! Despite some recent government crackdowns, they’re still found in some processed foods. They’re seriously bad for you in so many ways.
Foods That Reduce Inflammation (ENJOY):
- Vegetables, especially leafy greens, like spinach, kale, and arugula.
- Fruits like cherries and blueberries, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- Fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon and sardines.
- Foods that are high in healthy fats, like nuts and olive oil.
- Spices like ginger, cloves, and turmeric also have anti-inflammatory properties.
The right dietary choices can also help manage blood sugar, which can contribute to inflammation.
- The Mediterranean diet, which is rich in vegetables and fish, is one example of an anti-inflammatory diet.
Exercise and Inflammation
Although exercise can contribute to temporary muscle inflammation, it helps control levels of chronic inflammation in the body. One study showed just 20 minutes of exercise could help reduce inflammation long-term.
When combined with a healthy diet, exercise can help people maintain a healthy weight. Exercise also releases chemicals like endorphins and lowers levels of stress hormones like cortisol.
Great exercises include:
Likewise, even something as small as going for a short stroll at lunch or after work can help lower inflammation.
How to Destress to Avoid Distress
Stress is another contributing factor when it comes to chronic inflammation. Therefore, if someone wants to control the level of inflammation in the body, they should take a look at their stress levels.
Reducing stress is often easier said than done, but essential nonetheless. Bust stress with some of these ideas:
- Engage in meditation. Even five minutes can help lower stress.
- Get some exercise. Activities like yoga and walking are especially good.
- Schedule in some relaxation time. Whether it’s watching Netflix or soaking in a hot bath, taking time away from the hectic life schedules and to-do lists help bust stress.
- Get some shut-eye. Adults need eight hours of sleep, and quality sleep helps reduce both stress and inflammation.
Essential Oils for Inflammation
- Lavender has calming and relaxing effects, as well as being used to promote healing and sleep
- Chamomile is known to calm the nerves and relax muscles
- Peppermint is calming and also promotes mental clarity
Supplements to Reduce Inflammation: Cannabinoids
Another plant with strong anti-inflammatory properties is cannabis. Cannabinoids like CBD and THC have proven anti-inflammatory effects, which could make them an ideal part of a lifestyle designed for low inflammation.
CBD Oil For Inflammation
These great products let CBD team up with other natural remedies to reduce inflammation.
CBD and lavender team up to deliver the most stress-busting bathtime yet. Lower inflammation, fight stress and feel great while doing it.
This blend of high-quality CBD oil, peppermint, and ginger make it easy to reduce inflammation even on the go.
CBD and THC also form an anti-inflammatory dream team, especially when combined with other cannabinoids and essential oils.
Kick inflammation to the curb with THC, CBD, ginger, and turmeric in this easy-to-dose oil.
With the cannabinoid CBN added to the mix, this brew helps promote good sleep to let the body heal.
Talk to a Doctor about Chronic Inflammation
Chronic Inflammation can damage cell DNA. This can cause cells to reproduce incorrectly, which results in tissue death and scarring. As a result, these effects have long-lasting impacts and can contribute to the development of diseases.
If chronic inflammation could be contributing to a health condition, it’s a good idea to talk to a medical expert. Medical marijuana doctors in your state are ready to consult now and determine which holistic methods could help you manage inflammation and related health issues.