If you’re looking for natural ways to reduce inflammation in the body, then you’re in the right place. In this article I’m going to outline 7 simple, but powerful practices you can start implementing immediately.
WHAT IS INFLAMMATION
Inflammation is a part of the body’s natural immune response. It is the way in which the body reacts to an infection, bacteria or injury. The blood, antibodies and other immune system components rush to the scene of the crime to attempt to repair the damage.
There are three different types of inflammation:
- Acute Inflammation: This is the less severe form of inflammation. It comes on rapidly and symptoms generally last a few days.
- Subacute Inflammation: This is a period between acute and chronic inflammation and usually lasts from 2-6 weeks.
- Chronic Inflammation: This is the most severe form of inflammation. It comes on slowly and can last from several months to years.
WHEN DOES INFLAMMATION IN THE BODY BECOME A PROBLEM?
Without inflammation our body can’t heal, though when it gets out of control, inflammation can damage the body.
When inflammation becomes chronic, this can begin damaging healthy tissues, cells and organs. This process has been linked to several diseases including cancer, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, obesity, asthma and cognitive decline.
WHAT CAUSES INFLAMMATION?
Acute and subacute inflammation stems from an injury or infection, or exposure to a substance.
Chronic inflammation can be due to a foreign material, parasite, virus, or fungi that your body hasn’t been able to fight off. This results in the foreign material remaining in the tissue for an extended period of time.
Other causes include chronic stress, heavy alcohol consumption and smoking. An unhealthy diet based on processed foods like processed sugar and meats, refined carbohydrates, and vegetable oils can also contribute. It is usually a combination of the above.
7 WAYS TO REDUCE INFLAMMATION NATURALLY
Studies show that Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased inflammation. Optimal Vitamin D levels are critical for proper immune performance. Make sure to get your Vitamin D levels tested and ensure that they are no lower than 60 ng/ml. Increase your levels by getting a minimum of 20-30 minutes of sun exposure every day (or 15-20 if you’ve got pale skin).
If you need to get your levels up quickly, or you live somewhere where the sun doesn’t shine much, then taking a Vitamin D supplement will be beneficial. Read my blog post here for everything you need to know about achieving optimal Vitamin D levels.
When you experience prolonged stress, your adrenal glands end up secreting excessive levels of cortisol. This hormone, when produced in excess, increases inflammation and has a negative affect on the immune system.
Try different stress-relieving techniques to see what works for you. I like to practice deep breathing, meditation, walking in nature and playing with my dogs.
Grounding, otherwise known as earthing, involves connecting your bare skin to the surface of the earth. Studies show that grounding is an accessible health strategy against chronic inflammation. Inflammation is a positive electron in the form of free radicals and grounding is a negative electron, so it brings the electrons back into balance.
The obvious way to incorporate grounding into your life is to walk barefoot on the earth. Try doing this on your morning walk, lunch break etc. for about 10-15 minutes (the longer the better). Grounding equipment is available for use in your home. Check out the available earthing equipment here if you’re in Australia, or here if you live in other countries. I sleep on an earthing sheet every night and you can also use grounding floor mats to place your feet on when you are seated. You can read all about the incredible health benefits of earthing here.
Although there doesn’t seem to be a lot of research on this, regular exercise does tend to lower markers of systemic inflammation. Inflammation can be measured by the presence of C-reactive protein, and it flares up when your immune system is in a state of chronic reaction. A regular, moderate exercise program can sharply reduce CRP, according to a 2002 study published in Epidemiology.
Being physically active for as little as 20 minutes has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect. Exercise isn’t a one size fits all. It needs to be personalised and based on age, gender, health etc. Be careful not to overdo it, as excessive exercise can actually contribute to inflammation. Exercise in a way that feels good and sustainable for you.
Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet
The Western diet contributes to the proliferation of visceral adipose tissue, which releases pro inflammatory factors. This way of eating includes refined grains and sugars, red and processed meat, eggs, high fat dairy products, and high salt.
Plants are rich in dietary flavonoids which are capable of influencing inflammation pathways in the body. A whole food, plant-based diet has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body. It is also rich in fibre which alters the composition of gut microbiome in favour of reducing inflammation.
By eating a diet based on whole plant foods, you can restore health at a cellular level and begin to repair the body. Avoid processed foods and focus on fruit and vegetables, like berries, leafy greens, celery, beetroot, pineapple, papaya, banana, and turmeric. For a simple and delicious way to incorporate these ingredients into your diet, try my Turmeric Smoothie for Inflammation.
Most of the ingredients found in mainstream personal care products contain allergens, irritants and carcinogens. Exposure to these types of chemicals can cause an inflammatory response in the body which can then develop into diseases like cancer, multiple organ failure, rheumatoid and more. Endocrine disruptors and hormones found in everyday products have been linked to immune disorders and inflammation.
If you’re doing everything else right, but you’re still using toxins in your home and on your skin, your body will never get a chance to fully heal inflammation.
Find brands you trust that use safe ingredients and change over all the products in your home to create a healthy environment for you and your family. You can check out some of my recommendations in the online store here.
Most of the repair work in your body happens when you’re asleep at night between the hours of 10pm and 2am. Everyone is different in the area of sleep. Some people require more sleep than others, but I do believe everyone needs to be in a deep sleep during this timezone so your body has the opportunity to repair, restore and reduce inflammation.
Inconsistency in sleep has been associated with greater systemic inflammation. Sleep alters the structure of DNA inside the immune cells which impacts inflammation. Sleep enhances immune defences, and during deep sleep, your body works to repair cells, organs and muscles. Therefore, it is recommended to create a healthy and consistent sleep routine each night to reduce levels of inflammation in the body.
We can’t control everything in the external environment that contributes to inflammation, but there is a lot that is within our control. We can choose to eat well and exercise, get out into nature, reduce stress and create a healthy sleep routine. Doing all this will help us naturally reduce inflammation in the body and live healthier lives.
This blog, its content and any linked material are presented for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or prescribing. Nothing contained in or accessible from this post should be considered to be medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or prescribing, or a promise of benefits, claim of cure, legal warranty, or guarantee of results to be achieved. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog or in any linked material. Olivia Budgen is not a medical doctor. Consult with a licensed healthcare professional before altering or discontinuing any current medications, treatment or care, or starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, or if you have or suspect you might have a health condition that requires medical attention.