What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is part of the body’s immune response, which at times is beneficial. For example, if you bang your knee it will swell up to protect and care for the tissues surrounding it.
However, sometimes inflammation can carry on longer than it should, causing more harm than good in the long run.
When Inflammation becomes a problem
Inflammation is a problem when it is on-going and becomes chronic, or long term,lasting for several months and even years.
There are all sorts of reasons why this might happen, including:
- The failure to eliminate whatever caused the inflammation in the first place
- An autoimmune disorder that attacks normal healthy tissue
- Being in contact with a particular irritant, for example, an industrial chemical or food additive, over a long period of time
Symptoms of Chronic Inflammation
Here are just a few of the symptoms that chronic inflammation in the body can cause, and there are many more:
- Skin complaints, like eczema and psoriasis
- Brain Fog
- Weight Fluctuations
- Joint Pain
- Abdominal Pain
- Chest Pain
Examples of diseases and conditions where chronic inflammation is present:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Chronic Peptic Ulcer
- M.E./Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease
Although, inflammation is necessary for healing damaged tissue, chronic inflammation is often at the root of many conditions and has been known to trigger both anxiety and depression. If left unchecked, it can eventually lead to some cancers, which means that taking steps to prevent it is vital.
It’s because of this that I like to take steps whenever I can, to help reduce inflammation, and here are 6 things you can do to reduce inflammation in your body:
- Avoid sugar as much as possible – sugar is known to cause inflammation levels to rise, and although it can be challenging to cut this out of your diet completely, there are changes you can make to ensure you aren’t overdosing on the stuff.
- Cut out highly sugared fizzy drinks and replace with soda water, with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice or a dash of bitters
- Be aware of the hidden sugars in products such as baked beans, breakfast cereals, tomato ketchup and other condiments, and avoid them
- Get into the habit of using anti-inflammatory spices as much as you can –
- Turmeric is amazing at fighting inflammation and can be added to vegetables, salad dressings, curries, sauces, juices and tea infusions. However, in order to absorb the carcumin in turmeric you must blend it with black pepper and a healthy fat, like coconut oil or olive oil.
- Ginger is another amazing anti-inflammatory spice that can be added to juices, smoothies and all sorts of recipes. I love to make a ginger infusion by grating some root ginger into a mug and pouring on some boiled water. I leave it to infuse for about 10 minutes and then strain out the ginger. This can be drunk warm or chilled in the fridge for later.
- Eat plenty of vegetables that are rich in sulphur –vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, turnips, watercress, bok choy, horseradish and garlic are all rich in sulphur.
- Have a smoothie everyday – This is a really easy way to ensure you get plenty of goodness into your body each day, and as vitamins A, D, E and K2 help to reduce inflammation include a variation of ingredients that have these in them, like:
- Spinach, kale, broccoli, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, carrot, mango, papaya, apricots, avocado, red sweet peppers, kiwi fruit, romaine lettuce
- Other foods that help reduce inflammation – include as many of these foods in your diet as you can:
- Fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel
- Blueberries and oranges
- Olive oil
- Foods to avoid as much as possible –
- Fried foods, including chips
- White bread, pastry and other foods containing refined carbs
- Red meat
- Margarine and lard, (best to have butter)
It’s not always easy to stick to the right foods all the time, but tipping the balance in favour of anti-inflammatory foods as much as possible will make a big difference in the way you feel.
However, when I was recovering from M.E./CFS, I was completely rigid with what I ate and drank, because it was the only way I was going to heal my body, and the only way I ever felt at my best, so it was well worth it!