Inflammation is like a two-sided coin, both good and bad. Acute inflammation is the good side: it helps you heal when you get injured (an allergy response, cuts, sprains, broken bones, etc.). Acute inflammation also happens when you exercise; you are causing physiological stress in the form of micro tears in your muscle that initiates an inflammatory response. Your body responds and heals stronger, building muscle.
These are natural types of inflammatory responses that happen in your body used for healing and recovery.
However, chronic inflammation is the root of almost every disease.
Chronic inflammation, the bad side of the coin, happens when acute inflammation doesn’t get turned off. So if whatever was causing the acute inflammation is not eliminated, it can go on for years, wearing your body down. Inflammation also causes cancer, with research showing the inflammation is present before tumors begin to grow, helping cancer advance. (1) You do not want chronic inflammation lurking around your body.
Here are 10 key ways to stop the chronic inflammation cycle in your body. .
1) LOWER STRESS
It sounds too simple. But is really is powerful to take a long look at where you’re exposing your body to stress. Stress comes in several different forms including:
Foods can cause nutritional stress (I discuss this in detail in my book, SuperLife). This can happen is several ways.
- You create nutritional stress if you eat foods that are not properly prepared. Examples would be not soaking nuts and seeds before you eat them, which makes them very hard on your body with anti-nutrients that have not been removed. I write more on why you should soak nuts and seeds in this blog.
- Cruciferous vegetables or nightshade vegetables, which are anti-inflammatory in general, can still create nutritional stress if they are not properly prepared. I suggest that you lightly simmer, sauté, bake, or steam cruciferous vegetables so that they do not cause digestive distress.
- Eating food you are allergic too can cause stress. Even healthy foods can cause an allergic response. So start paying close attention when you eat and ask yourself: “How does this make me feel?” Does your nose start to run after you eat a food? Do you get extremely sleepy or irritable after eating a food (ask your friends or family. They’ll tell you!)? You could be creating an inflammatory, allergic response every time you eat that food. Take some notes and see what you find.
Is your job or your family stressing you out? What are you actively doing to manage that stress on a daily basis? Here are some simple steps to help you combat stress in under 5 minutes.
Poor water quality. Bad air. Chemicals in the products we’re using. Radiation. The world around us is full of toxins that cause systemic inflammatory responses because the body is trying to control and go after the xenobiotic. The foreign toxins that are not supposed to be in your body.
Related Reading: 5 Simple Stress-Fighting Snacks
2) Not Getting Enough Water
Most people still aren’t drinking enough water or drinking the best quality of water! Read more on water quality here.
Without enough water, your detoxification systems can’t work efficiently, so you build up the toxins in your system. This keeps that cycle going as your immune system has to keep responding to get the toxins out, but this can’t be completed, so the inflammatory response stays on.
3) Too Much Protein
I get into this in my book, but it is hard for the body to break down protein. Very, very challenging, actually. That can create inflammation. If you are constantly eating high amounts of animal protein, I promise you that it is probably too much protein and it causes inflammatory responses.
4) Too Much Sugar
We are all consuming hidden sugars in a large majority of foods! Check your labels. Diets high in sugar activate the immune system and create a pro-inflammatory response.
5) Eating Poor Quality Grain
I am an advocate for the right types of grains and pulses and legumes. They are some of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world when grown and prepared properly. Breads have especially gotten a bad rap because they haven’t been prepared properly. Ancient grains and breads involved days of fermentation, which removed a lot of the properties that cause the issues that make grains so irritable for everyone. Most commercial grains are also grown with heavy amounts of pesticides that will also enhance inflammation in your body. Avoid all commercial grains and only look for organic, fermented, soaked, ancient grains.
6) Too Many Processed Foods
I think we all know this one. Check the label on all the foods you choose to eat that come in a box. Your body is usually getting a lot of extra chemicals overloading your detoxification systems.
7) Eating Trans Fats
There is NOTHING good about trans fats. French fries, low quality fried, fatty foods, we all know we shouldn’t be eating them. Seriously? STOP. Trans fats are also in shortening, which is used in most commercial baked goods, so cakes, crackers, cookies, pies, etc. will expose your body. By eliminating commercial baked goods, you’re getting two for the price of one: less sugar and trans fats.
8) Not Eating Enough Omega-3
Omega-3 and Omega-6 are two essential fatty acids we need. Our bodies don’t make them; they only come from food. Omega-6 fatty acids can increase inflammation, while omega-3 fatty acids do the opposite and can lower it.
Unfortunately, we get too much omega-6! That’s because it is everywhere. Omega-6 is found in seeds and nuts and the oils made from them. That’s where the problem comes in: our packaged, processed foods are FULL of oils containing omega-6.
Be intentional about limiting sources of omega-6 and increasing sources of omega-3 to get this back into balance.
One of my favorite sources of omega-3 are chia seeds. Up to 60 percent of the oil that is found in chia seeds is comprised of omega-3s.
Burnt, blackened foods create an inflammatory response in your body. Overcooking foods – both plants and meats – will create an inflammatory, cancer-causing response in your body. Limit them as much as possible or all together.
10) Over Exercise
If you are always creating that inflammatory response from exercise I mentioned at the beginning of the article, you’ll start building inflammation. Incorporate rest days and listen to your body. If you’re exhausted, adding an inflammatory response on top of that isn’t healthy. Rest. Give your body a chance to work through the healing, strengthening response of exercise and keep it at healthy levels.
11) Poor Oxygen
Not breathing enough or not breathing deeply will build inflammation in the body.
I highly recommend you explore a breathing program. The Wim Hof Method is a natural way to saturate your body with available oxygen as well as simultaneously make yourself a disease-fighting, anti-inflammatory machine. You MUST check out this program!
That’s my top list of things to avoid (stress, sugar, too much meat, poor quality foods, processed foods, overcooked foods, and over exercising) and things to add to your life (breathing, water, fresh foods, omega-3, more oxygen, rest days, etc.).
Doing as many of these as you consciously can removes a lot of the constant inflammation your body is exposed to and restores health and vitality so you can keep living your SuperLife!
Here are two superfood drinks that I use to curb inflammation in my body:
- Cancer-related inflammation; Mantovani A, Allavena P, Sica A, Balkwill F.; Nature. 2008 Jul 24;454(7203):436-44;