How to Decrease Inflammation to Improve Your Health
When you decrease inflammation in your body you can greatly improve your health.
Did you know that most illness and disease originate from an ongoing inflammatory response?
Many conditions such as IBS, allergies, cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, and diabetes can be greatly improved just by following a few healthy guidelines.
Your diet alone is tremendously important to your health because what you eat on a regular basis contributes to good or bad health. The Standard American Diet (SAD), which is high in refined sugar (calories) and dangerous trans fats (bad fats), is one of the biggest causes of inflammation today. However, inflammation is not solely food based.
There are many causes of chronic inflammation.
This is exactly why it’s important to take the steps now, to ensure good health later! There are so many easy ways to decrease inflammation, so there’s no excuse not to do so!
How to Decrease Inflammation to Improve Your Health
Reduce stress – Three years ago, I was under a great amount of ongoing stress. As a result, my intestines went haywire, which sent me to the hospital. After losing 20 pounds and after going through numerous tests and medications, the doctor’s diagnosed me with ulcerative colitis. This was an anti-inflammatory response by my body. The point is that the same thing can happen to you if you don’t learn how to relieve the stress in your life.
Ongoing stress causes the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, to surge through your body at a high rate. Adrenaline elevates heart rate, blood pressure, and energy levels. Cortisol impairs immunity and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system, and growth. This complex natural alarm system also controls your mood, motivation and fear.
Most of the time, your body's stress response system is self-regulating. It naturally decreases hormone levels and enables your body to return to normal once a stressful situation has passed. As adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, your heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels, and other systems resume their regular activities.
However, when you’re constantly under stress, the fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on, which increases your risk for numerous health problems, including heart disease, sleep problems, digestive problems, depression, obesity, dementia, and highly reactive skin conditions such as eczema.
One of the best ways to decrease inflammation is by getting rid of some of the stressors in your life. Practicing deep breathing methods or meditation, including more vitamins (especially B vitamins for stress) in your diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep can help decrease inflammation in your body.
Phytonutrients – Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables that contain phytonutrients (plant nutrients) can reduce your risks of cancer, heart disease, and other age related degenerative diseases. They also help you fight the biological clock!
High value plant nutrients are found primarily in brightly colored veggies and fruits but they are also contained in other foods that have a strong odor. If you’re over fifty and reading this, they are probably the foods your mom served you most of the time as a child!
However, for many people, their diet has changed over time. Normal, home-cooked meals have been replaced by processed fast foods that have long lasting detrimental effects on your body over time. If you can simply learn how to incorporate more healthy foods in your diet and sit down to healthy meals more often, you can decrease inflammation and stay healthy longer!
Exercise - Most people don’t get enough exercise. Office jobs, computers, games, and television all contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle. You can decrease inflammation by simply doing 30 minutes of daily exercise. However, exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous! Take a walk after dinner, catch up on housework, or mow the grass, or plant vegetables or flowers! Just a small amount of activity is all you need to reduce weight, improve heart rate and lung function, and decrease inflammation.
Vitamins – Antioxidants, found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, contain anti-inflammatory properties that decrease inflammation. Taking vitamin supplements regularly or getting enough nutrients from the foods you consume is vitally important to your health. Consumed regularly, antioxidants help eliminate free radicals in your body. Without them, you are likely to get cancer or other debilitating diseases.
Vitamins and minerals that have the most anti-inflammatory properties include vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B complex, vitamin A, vitamin E, selenium and zinc. You can also get plenty of antioxidants from your diet by ditching fast foods and consuming more real, whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, oils, (such as high lignan flax oil), seeds, and nuts.
Fiber – You may roll your eyes when you hear the 'F' word, but fiber is so important in your daily diet. In fact, it’s been added to many foods and nutritional supplements for good reason. Most people just don’t get enough! The RDA (recommended daily amount) for fiber is 20-35 grams daily but most people get much less than that. Consumed regularly, a high fiber diet promotes good intestinal fortitude and reduces blood sugar levels naturally.
It’s so simple to increase daily fiber. It’s found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Since there is a wide variety of sources to choose from, there’s no reason why you can’t incorporate more fiber into your daily schedule. Diets that consist of a high amount of processed and refined foods promote inflammation because they contribute to higher blood sugar levels, are devoid of most anti-inflammatory nutrients, and do not assist proper bowel movements.
Probiotics – Live culture probiotics help decrease inflammation by increasing the intestinal flora. They promote good digestion and increase regular elimination, which is vital to reducing an anti-inflammatory response. Dr. Harvey Kellog, gastroenterologist and founder of Kellog’s cereals, was convinced that most all diseases originate from an unhealthy colon. In fact, in all the years he was a practicing physician, he said he’d never seen ONE single healthy colon.
If you are chronically constipated, probiotics can literally save your life! You can increase your own intestinal bacteria by taking probiotic supplements (with at least 2 billion bacteria per serving) or by eating more of the foods that contain active digestive enzymes. It only makes sense that if you don’t eliminate what you eat regularly, your body can’t and won’t function normally.
Diet – What you eat affects your health in many beneficial or detrimental ways. An anti-inflammatory diet is low in processed foods and fast foods but high in fruits, vegetables, seeds, sprouts, nuts and super foods rich in phytonutrients. (One of the best anti-inflammatory diets is the Mediterranean diet.)
To get the most nutritional bang for your bucks, stick to the outside edges of the store when you shop. This is where the whole, unprocessed foods tend to be found. Good examples of anti-inflammatory foods are salmon, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, flaxseed, and pumpkin seeds. Super foods include maca root, spirulina, wheatgrass, raw extra virgin coconut oil or butter, and raw dark chocolate.
Omega 3 fatty acids – There just isn’t enough time in the day to stress to you how important these are in your diet! Omega 3 oils promote a healthy balance in your body and are the cornerstone of your health! If you want to ensure a long happy life, get this one right!
Did you know that over the course of evolution there has been a dramatic change in the relationship of omega-6 fats to omega-3 fats consumed in the daily diet? This important dietary shift, perhaps more than any other inflicting factor, has contributed to the frequency and severity of modern disease.
For 4-5 million years, diets were abundant in seafood and other sources of omega-3 (long chain) fatty acids (EPA & DHA), but relatively low in omega-6 seed oils.
According to anthropological research, our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed omega-6 and omega-3 fats in a ratio of about 1:1. The research also suggests that both ancient and modern hunter-gatherers were free of modern inflammatory diseases, like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
At the start of the industrial revolution, there was dramatic altering in the ratio between n-6 omega fats to n-3 omega fats in the diet. This resulted from the invention of vegetable oils and an increased usage of cereal grains as feed for domestic livestock. (Which then altered the fatty acid profile of meats used for consumption.)
The following chart lists the omega-6 and omega-3 content of various vegetable oils and foods:
EFA Content of Oils
Vegetable oil consumption rose dramatically between the beginning and end of the 20th century. This one fact alone had an extreme damaging effect on the ratio of omega-6 versus omega-3 fats in the American diet.
- Between 1935 and 1939, the ratio of n-6 to n-3 fatty acids was around 8.4:1.
- From 1935 to 1985, the ratio increased to 10.3:1! (which is a 23% increase).
- Today, estimates of the ratio range from an average of 10:1 to 20:1, with a ratio as high as 25:1 in some individuals.
In fact, Americans now get almost 20 percent of their calories from soybean oil and almost 9 percent of all calories from the omega-6 fat rich linoleic acid (LA). The long-term ramifications of this drastic shift is tremendous!
Why is this important?
It reveals that our average intake of n-6 fatty acids is as much as 25 times greater than any period in our history of existence.
The caveat? Omega-6 and omega-3 are competitive opponents.
The more omega-3 fats you eat, the less omega-6 will be available to the tissues to produce inflammation. A diet full of omega-6 fat foods and not many omega-3 fatty acids increases inflammation. A diet rich in omega-3 fats and few omega-6 fats will decrease inflammation.
Pharmaceutical companies are well aware of the effect of n-6 on inflammation, and have been for some time. In fact, NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin, Celebres, etc. reduce the formation of inflammatory compounds derived from n-6 fats. However, the same results can be achieved by simply limiting dietary intake of n-6 fats.
So the big take-home from this is that omega-6 is pro-inflammatory, while omega-3 neutralizes inflammation.
It is no surprise that our forefathers had it right to begin with. There are so many easy ways you can decrease inflammation. Take heed today to safeguard your body and your life!
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