Inflammation (Latin, inflammare, to set on fire) is part of the complex biological response to harmful stimuli. It is a protective attempt to initiate the healing process. Although inflammation is a beneficial first response, if it persists, it may cause long-term symptoms and lead to more serious chronic disease.
Inflammation may be detected in routine blood tests and treated appropriately. To find the true inflammatory culprit, it may require more detailed testing, such as autoimmune antibody tests, or food sensitivity or allergy testing. Still, for some, where all test results are “normal,” it may manifest as weight gain, difficulty sleeping, mood disorders, pain, or other symptoms that disrupt daily life and leave a person feeling generally “diseased.”
So, how can we reduce or prevent inflammation? Here are a five ways to reduce inflammation and feel better now.
1. Optimizing nutrient status is the most powerful method to control and reduce inflammation. The best way to create an anti-inflammatory diet is to have a blood test and identify your own true sensitivities. The food you eat is the most important part of reducing inflammation. Here are some general tips for those who forego testing:
- Eat: Vegetables, whole grains, nuts/seeds
- Eat eight different colors of vegetables per day in soups and salads, roasted and stewed. Organic is preferred. The more raw food the better. Eat lots of crucifers.
- Avoid large quantities of meat, fish, dairy, and eggs.
- Avoid fried, charred, overcooked, canned, and boxed foods.
- Maintain a plate ratio for each meal of 50 percent vegetables (cooked or raw), 25 percent complex carbohydrates, and 25 percent healthy proteins and fats (either meat, fish, or plant protein such as hemp, rice, or lentil). Eat smaller meals within an 8-12 hour period daily, “fasting” for the other 12-16 hours, including sleep.
2. Measure and optimize your hormones. As hormones decline, inflammation and disease increase. The main anti-inflammatory hormones in the body are DHEA, cortisol, progesterone, and testosterone, which all decline naturally over time. When stress is high, the decline is more rapid. Hormone levels may be in the “normal range” and yet far from optimal, which maintain organ function and prevent disease. By restoring optimal levels of hormones, our body’s anti-inflammatory ability increases.
3. Maintain hydration by drinking half of your body weight in ounces of pure water daily, as this is critical to elimination of toxins. Reduce exposure to inflammatory molds, chemicals, gases, preservatives, dyes, heavy metals, and plastics. Toxins are a major contributor to inflammation.
4. Restore the mind-body connection through breath work and meditation. Breathe deeply and consciously to increase oxygenation and increase pH. Exercise in intervals in the aerobic range where you can breathe and talk easily. In this range your body is oxygenated and anti-inflammatory. Build muscle through resistance training exercise and practice meditative exercise, such as yoga or tai chi.
5. Sleep. Get 7-8 hours of deep, uninterrupted sleep. Researchers have found that the more consistent sleep we get, the less inflammation and disease we have.
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