Inflammation is a hot topic in the health and wellness world, but inflammation can manifest differently in different people – and it’s not always a bad thing.
Inflammation is a natural process in the body in which white blood cells help to protect us from infection from bacteria and viruses. Inflammation is a crucial part of the immune system’s response to injury and infection, and serves as the body’s way of signaling the immune system to heal and to repair.
Why then, does inflammation seem to get such a bad rap in the medical community?
If left unchecked, inflammation can wreak havoc on the body. Chronic inflammation occurs when the body continues to send inflammatory cells even when there is no acute danger. It can happen when the body is unable to adequately heal or repair, and the body stays in an inflamed state for months or years – much longer than it should.
So what are some signs that you may be dealing with chronic inflammation?
Symptoms can manifest differently depending on who you are, but here are some signs to look out for:
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Brain fog, fatigue, forgetfulness
- Digestive issues
- Stubborn belly fat – perhaps not matching the way you eat and move
- High blood pressure
- Frequent illness
- Skin issues
- Hormonal imbalance symptoms
We recommend coming in to see us if you are struggling with any of the above symptoms, but there are also many things that you can do on your own to set yourself up for success and to begin to heal.
What can I do to reduce inflammation naturally?
- Use the power of nutrition! Food can be very healing, especially when it comes to combatting inflammation. Try incorporating more whole, unprocessed foods like in-season fruits and vegetables, and remember that quality matters. Aim to buy organic as able, and when it comes to meat, the same rules apply. Organic, grass-fed, lean protein sources can be very nourishing. Don’t underestimate the power of herbs and spices! They have incredibly healing properties. Try adding turmeric to smoothies and soups, and incorporating more fresh herbs such as cilantro into your meals. Looking for more helpful ways to reduce inflammation through optimizing nutrition? Consider working with one of our dietitians. Dietitian Katherine Mattox offers her signature nutrition program throughout the year, which focuses on combatting inflammation using food as medicine. Give us a call or check out our website to enroll in her next class.
- Consider food sensitivity testing. Sometimes, even foods that we consider to be healthy can trigger an inflammatory response in the body if there are other underlying health concerns going on. Food sensitivity testing is meant to help us identify these triggers, and ultimately helps us guide you in how to heal. It can be helpful at times to eliminate certain foods from the diet if we know they are causing inflammation, and testing is a great way to ensure we aren’t making unnecessary eliminations.
- Move your body! Exercise is a powerful tool to combat inflammation, and it doesn’t have to be as hard as you may think. Don’t underestimate the power of walking and gentle, restorative movement such as yoga and stretching. It’s important to slow down and to prioritize recovery when it comes to exercise and movement.
- Eliminate alcohol. Alcohol has been shown to increase inflammation, and as with many things, overconsumption can wreak havoc on your body. One glass of red wine occasionally can have anti-inflammatory effects and heart healthy benefits, but the effects of large amounts of alcohol on the body and immune system can be detrimental.
- Prioritize rest and good sleep hygiene. Getting adequate, good quality sleep should be one of the first steps in beginning to combat inflammation (and almost any health concern!)
- Remember that stress and inflammation go hand in hand. Prioritizing stress reduction techniques can be incredibly helpful in getting through the day and also in reducing chronic inflammation. Meditation and deep breathing exercises have been proven to be effective in reducing inflammation. Check out this article for more information on meditation techniques and to start implementing meditation into your life!