WHY AVOIDING INFLAMMATION COULD BE YOUR TICKET TO GOOD HEALTH AND HOW TO GO ABOUT IT.
Inflammation in response to a minor injury is generally a good sign. Your body reacts to the trauma it’s just experienced and responds by throwing your immune system into overdrive. While the symptoms of inflammation can be painful and irritating, typically they’re treatable with time and natural remedies. Inflammation, however, starts to pose a serious threat to your health when it occurs in the absence of a foreign invader. Harvard Health Publishing even states that diseases such as “cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s have been linked to chronic inflammation.” Inflammation can present itself in forms as common as bloating and gas and as severe as the diseases listed above.
So, since inflammation seems to be the source of a multitude of health problems ranging from mildly uncomfortable to devastatingly fatal, how can we be sure to prevent it?
A typical response in this age of over-prescribing and massive pharmaceutical corporations might be heading to a local drug store and seeking relief in the form of medication. However, as it is in many cases, the root of inflammation is often a poor diet. Choosing to incorporate anti-inflammatory ingredients into your daily meals could be the key to a healthier lifestyle and decreased risk of developing disease. On the other hand, consistently choosing to eat foods that are known inflammatories could put you on a fast track towards illness.
Ok; we’ve established the risks of inflammation and the role that diet can play in its prevention. Now- exactly what foods should we be prioritizing to make the biggest positive impact on our health?
- Healthy Fats: Omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats are essential in an anti-inflammatory diet. They can be found in cold-water fish, nuts and seeds, extra virgin olive oil, avocados, and more.
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes provide lycopene which is shown to reduce inflammation and lower your risk of developing cancer.
- Leafy Green Vegetables: Greens such as kale, Swiss chard, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, etc… are a source of vitamin E which is an antioxidant and can reduce inflammation.
- Fruits: Cherries, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, watermelon among others are especially anti-inflammatory. Making a fruit-filled smoothie with raw nut butter, leafy greens, and a banana or other natural sweetener is one easy and delicious way to incorporate anti-inflammatory foods into your everyday diet.
Although adding anti-inflammatory ingredients to your meals is a step in the right direction, it’s often more difficult yet extremely necessary to avoid known inflammatories. Inflammatory foods include the following:
- Refined Carbohydrates: This includes white bread, rice, potatoes pasta, etc… Pastries, pancakes, sugary breakfast cereals, soda, bagels: anything made with white flour should be avoided. For many people, gluten, in general, can cause inflammation and they often find that their symptoms relieve after adopting a gluten-free diet.
- Red Meats: Processed and red meats including hot dogs, sausage, beef, and pork are high in saturated fat which is a known inflammatory. Other foods high in saturated fats are full-fat dairy products.
- Processed Sugars: Be on the lookout for undercover sugars in ingredient lists like fructose and sucrose. Be wary of artificial sweeteners as well. Try using natural sweeteners such as honey, agave nectar, and fresh ripe fruit.
- Unhealthy Fats: Omega-6 fatty acids, trans fats, and saturated fats. Avoiding anything deep-fried, greasy, and dairy-filled is typically a safe bet when protecting yourself against inflammation.
If eliminating inflammatory foods from your diet feels impossible, simply replacing a few designated meals each week with anti-inflammatory alternatives and gauging what ingredients work the best for you is a wonderful way to dip your toes in the vastness of healthy living. Additionally, the diet should not be the only lifestyle change you make to prevent inflammation. Good health requires exercise, stress management, and a regulated sleep schedule along with a balanced diet.
Unfortunately, developing a healthy routine that includes all of the elements listed above is often easier said than done. Therefore, to start, acknowledge activities that provide you with the most peace and clarity and find time to enjoy them every single day. Branch out and get creative with the ways that you relax. Consider picking up a new hobby and giving yourself a specific time slot each day to learn and grow your skills. Allow yourself to fail or try something different when one activity does not provide you with the level of stress-relief that you desire.
Additionally, many people can find stress relief in exercise. Being able to combine these two aspects of a healthy lifestyle can make things easier when it comes to rearranging your schedule and making time for more activities in your day. If a sport like running, yoga, skiing, biking, swimming, etc… has always felt therapeutic to you, making it a part of your daily routine even if only for half an hour or so, can help with energy levels, general mental health and sharpness, strength building, and- ultimately- inflammation.
Most importantly, a consistent sleep schedule is essential for health. Set yourself a bedtime that aligns with the general level of work and responsibilities that you have on any given day and a morning alarm that goes of at the same time every morning. Adults need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep every night to function at full capacity. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that sleeping for 7 to 8 hours with a set bed and wake time boosts your immune system, helps with weight loss, lowers your risk for serious health problems, improves your mood, and stress level, and much more.
While all of this information can be overwhelming, especially if you feel as if the life you’re currently living doesn’t align with any of the suggestions listed above, try not to let a healthy lifestyle be something to fear! Above all else, maintaining positivity and a reverence for life are the only ways that a truly healthy lifestyle can be obtained. Understanding the negative effects that inflammation can have on your well-being is only the first step in making changes to your behavior that will lead you in the direction of health. Good luck and enjoy seeking prosperity!