Did you know most people don’t know they are suffering from inflammation? I sure didn’t! A lot of people have felt poorly for so long that they don’t have any idea that how they feel doesn’t have to be normal. People who live day-to-day with chronic pain… sore backs, stiff knees and hips, painful ankles…don’t always realize inflammation is part of the problem. I for one, am sick and tired of being sick and tired all the time. If you have chronic pain, I know you have heard that saying before!
Links to corroborating information is at the bottom of this page.
First off, inflammation isn’t always a bad thing. Our bodies use inflammation as a way to protect and heal injuries. Swelling naturally occurs after an injury – like a cut to the finger – to help in the healing process. Similarly, inflammation happens during some illnesses and is part of the cycle of healing. So, in some cases inflammation is an appropriate and necessary part of getting better. Having said that, chronic inflammation can be a chief reason people are in pain when injuries and illnesses aren’t present.
How to Reduce Inflammation
The good news is many of the reasons people have inflammation can be reduced or stopped entirely by a healthy diet and getting exercise. Making simple changes in your diet, including eliminating unhealthy foods and introducing anti-inflammatory foods, can reduce inflammation quickly. Becoming more active can help speed things up even more. Reducing chronic inflammation is something you can take control of and hopefully become pain free.
What you are eating – and not eating – could be causing inflammation and pain in your body.
Our diet can be a contributing factor for inflammation. The foods we are eating and the ones we aren’t can create or heal inflammation. Some foods that cause inflammation are pretty easy to identify, but there are foods that you might not think contribute. It’s valuable to understand what foods promote healing and which ones contribute to inflammation.
Overall, inflammation-causing foods are lumped into groups. Groups such as:
- Processed foods (boxed and packaged)
- Processed meat
- Refined carbohydrates (products made with mostly sugars and grains, including white flour, white bread, white rice, baked goods, crackers, most cereals, pastas and snacks.
These categories account for a lot of foods so it’s important to take a look at the foods you eat on a regular basis and identify foods that might be adding to chronic inflammation. Additionally, while these are the top categories of foods that can cause inflammation, your body is unique and may react to what’s considered a “healthy” food. Issues like food allergies can cause chronic inflammation you may not be aware of.
Using Foods to Reduce Inflammation
While some inflammation is necessary to fight illnesses and injuries, chronic forms of inflammation can contribute to disease and make you ill. One of the best ways to combat inflammation and help keep your body healthy comes from choosing foods that reduce or prevent inflammation altogether.
Whole foods are like medicine for your body. Additionally, spices can amplify the benefits of whole foods, making them taste great as well as working wonders for your health and wellbeing. Using whole foods and spices can reduce or prevent swelling and inflammation in your body. Here’s why:
What are Whole Foods
Whole foods are pretty much foods in their natural state (preferably grown or raised organic) with no processing and containing no artificial additives or preservatives.
From plants to animals, our bodies were designed to eat whole, unprocessed foods for optimal health. Chronic inflammation can be managed with a healthy diet filled with whole foods. If you were to study the benefits of foods like fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, and animal products, you’d see that they each contribute to health in some way. Eating whole foods, or eating clean, can help prevent illnesses and restore our bodies when they are off track.
Some of the top foods for reducing inflammation are:
- Nuts and seeds
- Leafy greens
- Fatty fish
- Olive oil
Incorporating these foods into your diet can help reduce inflammation and pain while helping your body function better. You can enhance the effects of these foods by adding some of the inflammation-fighting spices.
Spices to Reduce Inflammation
Spices aren’t just an afterthought. Spices can be used intentionally to benefit our bodies. If you are looking to reduce inflammation or prevent it from taking hold in your body, use spices generously to add a kick of flavor, plus aid in health and wellness.
Spices are generally used to enhance the flavor of food. They take a dish to the next level and help make it extraordinary. The more expansive your spice rack, the more you can explore with a wide variety of tastes. Sweet, savory, spicy… there’s something for everyone when it comes to spices. While spices might seem like they play a supporting role in cooking, they actually have medicinal value all on their own.
The top spices to battle inflammation are:
- Cayenne Pepper
The more you study, the more you uncover about the benefits of a wide variety of spices. Some little-known spice facts might surprise you:
- Cinnamon reduces blood sugar and is helpful anti-diabetic
- Peppermint and ginger can reduce nausea and help with headaches
- Basil fights infections and increases immunity
- Sage helps with memory and important brain function
- Turmeric helps reduce inflammation
These common spices and herbs may already be in your spice rack or growing in your garden, which means you can boost your health with your next meal. Here are some fun ways to add anti-inflammatory spices every day:
Turmeric – Use turmeric in stir-fries. Chop a variety of veggies and sauté with olive oil. Add turmeric for a bang of inflammation-fighting flavor. You can also add turmeric to a smoothie for a flavor boost. Turmeric comes powdered or you can by a piece of it from your local grocer for the best quality. Be sure to add black pepper when using turmeric to activate the healing benefits.
Ginger – Fresh ginger is a pungent and tasty root that can be found powdered or fresh in the produce section of your grocery store. Peeled and chopped, this powerfully tasty root can be used in sweet or savory dishes. It is commonly found in Asian-inspired dishes but can be added to stir-fries, soups, stews, and rice dishes.
Sage – Sage is known for its anti-inflammation properties, especially for dentistry. Cooking with sage is easy when making savory dishes. Add sage when roasting meat and poultry. Add sage to soups, sauces, and savory side dishes like rice, pasta, and stuffing.
If you are living with chronic aches and pains, it could very well mean you have inflammation and could benefit from a fast for quick relief and better health. An easy way to kick-start your healing comes from an inflammation fast, which includes stopping inflammation-inducing foods and starting anti-inflammation foods. The combination of reducing and increasing certain foods gives inflammation a one-two punch and promotes healing.
You can take control of your health each time you make a trip to the grocer. Make whole foods an important part of your diet and you are sure to see results for your chronic inflammation.
If you suffer from pain due to chronic inflammation, the first step is to eliminate those foods that cause inflammation.
Generally, these are foods like:
- Fried foods
- Processed foods
- Refined carbs
- And fatty meats
Here are the basic guidelines for a successful inflammation fast:
NO: White flour pasta or white rice
NO: Refined starches
NO: Fried foods
NO: Processed meats
NO: Saturated fats
NO: High sodium products
YES: Fresh leafy greens
YES: Healthy fish
YES: Nuts and seeds
YES: Anti-inflammatory spices
YES: Healthy fats – olives, avocados
YES: Natural sweeteners
The items on the NO list should be completely cut out for maximum and expedient results. Each item on the list contributes greatly to inflammation and pain. Many foods you eat have a healthy counter part and the ones that don’t should be avoided altogether.
Here are some swaps that make things easier:
- Swap out white rice for brown rice or riced cauliflower
- Swap out sugar for dates or raisins in your favorite sauces or baked goods.
- Swap our processed foods that come in boxes for fresh versions. Instead of instant potatoes, make fresh potatoes.
- Swap out vegetable oil for olive oil or use broth instead of oil
Reducing foods that hurt and replacing them with foods that heal promises to help you feel less pain and have more energy. Reducing swelling and feeling better is not only great for your body, it’s great for your mental health. Do yourself and your family a favor – go on an inflammation fast and see how everyone benefits. Once you reduce inflammation and start to feel great, you may never want to go back to eating the same ol’ way again. Or, you can slowly introduce foods back into your diet and analyze which ones really contribute to pain and swelling. Once you know which food combinations work best in your family, you can create a lifestyle that promotes healing and health with ease.
Movement Helps Reduce inflammation
Failure to move your body can contribute to inflammation. Living a sedentary lifestyle is a chief contributor to chronic illnesses, including Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Failure to move regularly can deteriorate muscle tone and reduce the vitality and ease of movement for joints. Stiffness can morph into mobility restrictions that could be avoided or improved through exercise. Eating anti-inflammatory foods can ease some diseases like arthritis.
Anytime you read up on best practices to stay healthy, you see two things – eat right and exercise. The two go hand in hand when it comes to preventing illnesses and injuries and promoting overall health. Eating well and moving your body helps keep things on track and can overcome setbacks like illness and injury.
Sedentary bodies are at risk for many problems including inflammation. Swollen joints, muscles, and other chronic pain can be relieved through activity. Staying healthy by eating right and exercising can prolong the length of your life as well as the quality of it.
Here are some fundamental ways moving your body can reduce inflammation:
Moving your body promotes circulation: Sedentary bodies are at risk for poor circulation. Loss of blood flow can result in inflammation and pain. Common pain can be found in the joints like knees and hips, and also pain in the back and neck. Moving your body increases blood flow to the limbs and helps your body stay limber.
Moving your body increases calorie burn: Being overweight is a chief contributor to inflammation. Too much pressure on joints, discs, and the skeleton can cause inflammation and pain. Moving your body can help keep your weight reasonable so you can carry yourself with less inflammation and less pain.
Moving your body elevates your mood: Being in pain all the time takes its toll on your mental health. You may know that you are living with pain because of inflammation in your body or you may not understand why you are experiencing pain. Whether you know inflammation is taking a toll on your body – and your mind – or not, being active can help keep your mindset clear.
Moving your body prevents disease: Movement is important for circulation and weight management but it also helps reduce the risk of diseases like coronary disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other debilitating diseases. The more you move, the less you need to worry about becoming sick or injured.
Moving your body is an easy way to fend off illness and injury. Being active goes a long way towards staying healthy and reducing issues like inflammation. If it’s been a while since you’ve been physically active, it might feel painful and sore to get going, but in a short time the pain will give way to feeling stronger and healthier. As the inflammation reduces and you gain momentum, you can expect to enjoy moving your body and seeing the benefits.
I hope you find this information helpful.