Think flames, distress, damage. Recent research tells us that inflammation is the underlying source of pain, illness, mood disorders and basically all of our chronic physical and often emotional complaints. So what is inflammation and how do we avoid this dreaded thing that causes so many problems?
First, it is important to know that inflammation has its place in healing when it’s short-term. For example, when you cut your arm the body sends immune cells to the injury to bring infection fighters, substances to repair tissue and blood products that help you clot and not bleed to death. These and other actions result in swelling and redness. This is inflammation that serves a purpose and resolves over time. It is necessary in this situation for healing.
The dangerous inflammation is chronic and not seen from the outside. It occurs in the gut, blood vessels, the brain or many other sites and contributes to problems such as pain, heart disease, mood disorders and Alzheimer’s.
The good news is that you can do something about it through diet and lifestyle and stress reduction. Stress increases cortisol levels as well as other hormones and brain chemicals. This is helpful if you are confronted by a grizzly bear on the street on your way to work. But day after day these high levels create inflammation in your body. Follow these guidelines to get you started on cooling the inflammation in your body!
Go for an anti-inflammatory diet:
- Fruits and vegetables the way they come out of the ground or off the tree
- oily fish (salmon, herring), grassfed meats and poultry
- healthy fats like olive, avocado and coconut oil, nuts
- whole grains - try going gluten-free and see how you feel
- lots of pure water and limit caffeine and alcohol
- fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha
- limit dairy products and only consume grass fed dairy
- avoid GMO foods, artificial ingredients and preservatives!!
- decrease sugar intake from all sources and never use fake sweeteners
- avoid fried foods (Hint: that deep fried cream filled doughnut is creating flames in your body! )
- Exercise! It is uses up excess cortisol and releases happy chemicals in your brain.
- If you pray, then do it. Releasing your anxiety to God is way better than hanging on to it and worrying.
- Meditate to release anxiety and focus on the good things in your life. It gives your brain a needed break!
- Look at your life carefully and be willing to give up or change things that are causing you stress. You are worth it!
- Get help if you need it from a counselor or trusted friend.
- Be grateful. You can't focus on the negative when you are focusing on the positive!