How to Reduce Inflammation and Promote Internal Healing

Acute inflammation is the body’s natural and appropriate reaction to an injury, but when it persists for too long and becomes chronic, it creates the perfect foundation for age-related diseases. I strongly support the belief that chronic inflammation is the root cause of many serious chronic illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and even cancer.

So, what can you do to calm this internal heat?

A growing body of evidence links particular foods and lifestyle patterns with lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers. 

While stress, smoking, lack of exercise, genetics, and toxins can all increase chronic inflammation,  the SAD or Standard American diet, overloaded with trans fats and refined sugars, has become a major culprit.

I believe that food is medicine; therefore, what we eat is the most important decision we make every day in terms of health and our ability to resist and combat disease.

In order to turn down your internal heat and start lowering your inflammation, here is a guide on how to turn your kitchen into a healing pharmacy.

  • Choose your fats wisely:  prioritize omega 3-rich sources found in wild fatty fish such as salmon, sablefish, and halibut. Chia seeds, walnuts, and flaxseeds are also great vegetarian options. Stay away from trans fats in baked goods and margarine. Go easy on  omega-6 fatty acids from vegetable oils such as soybean, corn, safflower, and sunflower because they are all pro-inflammatory. Many seafood sources of omega-3 fatty acids are also high in Vitamin D, which helps inhibit some pro-inflammatory metabolic pathways in the body. Go for the grass-fed beef and wild fish as they have a healthier ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fats than grain-fed meats or farm-raised fish do.
  • Load up on phytonutrients: eating the colors of the rainbow is a practical and achievable strategy to get your phytonutrients, the superb antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables. They are great at preventing chronic oxidative stresses that lead to inflammation. Some well-known examples are anthocyanin (in blueberries), resveratrol (in grapes and red wine), and lycopene (in tomatoes). And just because some of them appear to be colorless, like cabbage or cauliflower, don’t ignore them as both of these vegetables are high in potent antioxidants. In addition, many fruits and vegetables are great sources of Vitamin C,  a well-known antioxidant.
  • Include healthy carbohydrates:  but be mindful of the serving sizes. Choose those that are high in fiber,  have a low glycemic index ( like leafy vegetables, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes), and yet low in refined carbohydrates like sugar and flour, because your body breaks them down into glucose very quickly. This increases your insulin levels and creates an environment for inflammation to thrive. 
  • Bring on the spices:  use rosemary, ginger, and turmeric on a daily basis. These spices appear to exhibit anti-inflammatory activity. In particular, the compound curcumin in turmeric has been shown to activate certain enzymes within brain cells that are protective against inflammation, oxidative damage, and cell death. 
  • Drink up to your health: sip on beverages such as green tea, coffee, and some red wine as well! They are all high in antioxidants like polyphenols, resveratrol and flavanols that have been shown to protect neurons against oxidative damage. 
  • Have a treat:  get some dark chocolate. Flavanols are responsible for chocolate’s anti-inflammatory effects, and they also keep the endothelial cells that line your arteries healthy. However, make sure to choose dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa (more is even better) in order to reap the anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Rest & Relax:  meditation is helpful for stress management. Taking a moment to calm the mind allows the brain to signal to the body that it can relax. Sleeping 7 to 8 hours per night also helps reduce chronic stress and  inflammation.  If you’re cutting corners in the snooze department, you’re cheating your immune system, which means it needs to kick into high gear in an effort to keep you well. 
  • Get your gut in order: gut flora can become out of balance due to poor diet, stress, lack of sleep, or consumption of antibiotics. When this occurs, you may get symptoms that include constipation, diarrhea, bloating,  and fatigue.  It appears that this constant dysbiosis, or unbalance, contributes to heart disease by triggering inflammation which makes the plaque that sticks to your artery walls less stable. Unstable plaque can break off into the bloodstream triggering a heart attack. So the less inflamed the gut, the better your odds of living a long and healthy life.

Till next healthy bites, I wish you all the best in your healing journey!