Inflammation is not something that you can see. However, it is skilled at silently destroying your body and leaving you battling some of the worst health conditions you can imagine, like diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. The inflammation response is built into the human body, and it is a good thing when it acts as an acute response to foreign invaders or injury. On the other hand, chronic inflammation is not good can lead to obesity, disease, and early death.
The great news is that there are several things that you can do to decrease widespread inflammation quickly, reducing your risk of dangerous and deadly diseases. When you adopt these seven healthy habits, your body will thank you, and you will have increased energy, improved memory, and weight loss. Plus many more visible positive impacts – not to mention long-term protection from inflammatory diseases.
Just a cup of greens each day can make a tremendous difference to your health. Tasty greens, including spinach, arugula, lettuce, and kale, give the inflammation a double punch. They contain antioxidants and bioactive compounds that reduce inflammation and prevent free radicals from creating new inflammation.
Make sleep a priority
Burning the candle at both ends leads to excessive inflammation and increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and more. It is when you are asleep that your body does the incredible work of repair and rejuvenation. Seven or eight hours of quality sleep is necessary for healing, and without it – inflammation will not be stopped. A continual lack of sleep triggers inflammation and increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, metabolic issues leading to obesity and dementia, and Alzheimer’s. Adopt a healthy sleeping routine, go to bed at the same time nightly, and get up at the same time daily. Get the electronics out of your bedroom and make your sleeping space a sanctuary for rest.
Ditch one cup of coffee for green tea
Do you regularly drink three or four cups of coffee daily? If so, substitute at least one of these cups with a cup of green tea. Green tea leaves contain polyphenol compounds that reduce damage caused by free radicals and stop inflammation. According to research, regularly consuming green tea can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, cancer, and joint conditions. Try green tea hot or iced with lemon and raw honey for an amazing inflammation-reducing treat!
Go wheat and grain-free
Processed wheat and grains are cheap, accessible, and everywhere – from bagels to bread, cookies, crackers, and pasta – quick breakfast, easy lunch, and quick dinners are possible with the addition of wheat and grains. However, all this ease has a disastrous impact on health and is a leading contributor to obesity, chronic disease, and food allergies and sensitivities in America.
Pro-inflammatory grains include wheat, oats (steel cut ok), corn, soy, and rye. Keep in mind that gluten-free does not always make a food safe to eat. Ingredients like cornstarch, potato starch, rice starch, soybeans, and tapioca starch are often hidden in gluten-free foods and are highly inflammatory. Safe flours include almond flour, almond meal, chickpea flour, pecan meal, and hazelnut meal.
Love your gut
When harmful bacteria in the gut overpower the good, inflammation occurs and spreads through the body. Therefore, it is critical to feed the healthy bacteria in your gut and nix the bad by cutting out processed and sugar-laden foods. Centering your diet around whole, minimally processed foods and including some raw foods like yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, and sauerkraut daily helps reduce inflammation.
You can have the cleanest diet ever and still be plagued with inflammation if your stress switch is always on. What tools do you have to deal with the stress in your life? If you have none – you have inflammation. Think about employing exercise, deep breathing, yoga, journaling, mini time-outs, etc… to control the stress in your life. Learn how to say no, take regular walks in nature and just relax.
Read package labels closely
Have you ever turned over a package in the grocery store and attempted to read the massive list of ingredients? Chances are many of those ingredients are preservatives, dyes, and other common ingredients added to prolong shelf life and make food look more appealing. Unfortunately, these ingredients can trigger inflammation or make it worse, especially if you have a weak gut barrier. As a general rule, you should only consume five ingredients or fewer ingredients that you can pronounce and are familiar to you.
Take your dog for a walk
Regular exercise is a good thing, and your dog needs it too. Research shows that getting as little as 20 minutes of movement daily reduces inflammatory blood markers and will make you feel more energetic and happy.
Quit hiding from the sun
Sunshine is a 100% free supplement that you should not miss out on. A little bit of sunshine daily can reduce the number of activated cells that accuse inflammation. Additionally, time in the sun helps lower blood pressure and increases blood flow and heart rate, which is good for heart health. This is due to the sun’s rays causing nitric oxide stored in the skin to be released. This is not to say that you should be out in the hot, hot sun all day long. What works is a little bit of sun consistently. Get outside, preferably with as little clothing as possible, at least 20 minutes a day. For prolonged periods in the sun, wear organic, non-chemical sunscreen.
Inflammation can rapidly ruin your life without you even knowing it is happening. So take steps, starting today, to reduce inflammation so that you can look and feel your best!
-Susan Patterson, CBHC and Master Gardener