This post takes a look at inflammation– what it is, what makes it worse, and how to reduce inflammation in the body. We’re sharing our top 3 tips to do just that. Another version of this post appears on our old blog. You can read it here.
If you’ve suffered from an inflammatory response before, you may be familiar with a flare up. Sometimes foods or illnesses can bring about a flare up. Stress and weather changes can also increase inflammation. This is especially true of winter weather, due to barometric pressure changes that occur in winter. Barometric pressure is the weight of air molecules pressing down on you. When temperatures drop, air pressure drops, and lower air pressure pushes less against the body than a higher air pressure does. This causes tissues to expand, which can lead to tendons, muscles, and surrounding tissues to expand. What follows all of this tissue expansion? Inflammation, often in the form of aches and pains.
Symptoms of Inflammation
- Skin redness/itching
- Swollen, painful, and/or stiff joint(s), sometimes warm to the touch
- Loss of joint function
One study analyzing blood cells found fascinating results–around 5,000 different genes showed changes that varied based on the season. The most observed genetic changes occurred in the white blood cells, which deal with our immune system response. Inflammation is defined in the study as our body’s response to harm, and findings showed that in the winter, inflammation is highest. The evidence was fascinating– that there is a clear change in our DNA makeup in the winter seasons. Our body actually responds differently in the winter than in the warmer seasons.
Why does increased inflammation matter? Untreated, even if asymptomatic, inflammation always leads to a disease process. These disease processes can cardiovascular disorders, autoimmune disorders, and more.
So, how can we reduce inflammation in our bodies?
How to Reduce Inflammation: 3 Tips
1.Reduce Inflammation with a Diet Rich in Antioxidants
Antioxidants are found in many foods. Antioxidants are helpful when it comes to protecting the body from oxidative damage, which contributes to inflammation. Inflammation can not only cause painful swelling in the joints but can negatively affect our immune system. Inflammation is linked to the development of chronic health concerns, include heart disease, autoimmune conditions, and even cancer. Some good dietary sources of antioxidants include:
Leafy greens are full of a variety of antioxidants. These include carotenoids, which are great for the skin, flavonoids to help fight diseases, omega 3s to protect the heart/blood vessels/brain, and vitamin C, which is use for overall health and reduction of chronic diseases. Leafy greens also contain lutein, which is important for healthy eyes. Grees are rich in calcium, magnesium, and iron. Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, parsley, and broccoli are a great source of Vitamin E, which is excellent at protecting the body against inflammation.
Suggestions: Aim for five or more servings of leafy greens per day. If salads aren’t your favorite, consider sautéing greens to go with any meal of the day, or tossing some dark leafy greens into a smoothie.
Citrus fruits especially are powerhouses of antioxidants! Not only are they rich in Vitamin C (which is excellent at fighting inflammation), but they also contain flavonoids, which may reduce the risk of stroke. Citrus fruits additionally contain lycopene, which may protect the cells from oxidative damage. All fruits contain a plethora of nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants, which all work to reduce inflammation.
Suggestions: Eat more citrus fruits! They are great year-round, but are at peak freshness in the winter. Tart cherries, strawberries, raspberries, watermelons, and grapes are especially helpful at reducing arthritic inflammation/pain. Aim for 5 or more servings of fruit each day.
You probably aren’t going to eat this one on its own, but turmeric is a nice addition to many dishes and can also be purchased in supplement form. Turmeric has been shown to have powerful antioxidant properties and curcumin, turmeric’s active form, may reduce the inflammation associated with arthritis.
Suggestions: Sprinkle turmeric on roasted veggies like beets or cauliflower. Consider taking a turmeric supplement. You can find many excellent turmeric supplements in our complimentary online dispensary.
Leafy greens contain omega 3s, and we’ve already talked about those a bit. But some other great sources of omega 3s include: fish, nuts, and olive oil. Olive oil also contains a chemical that actually halts the production of the chemicals that produce inflammation in the body.
Suggestions: Try to include ¾ ounces of fish at least twice a week. Drizzle some olive oil atop a salad. Consider adding flax seeds or walnuts to your salads, cereals, or desserts.
2. Reduce Inflammation by Drinking More Water
Fresh drinking water flushes toxins and other irritants out of the system. This helps to manage inflammation. When our cells are deprived of enough water, their function slows down, our metabolism slows down, nutrients aren’t delivered optimally, and these things affect every organ in our body. Including our skin. Inadequate water intake can have consequences ranging from fatigue, brain fog, headaches, joint pain, weight gain, and unhealthy cravings.
Suggestions: Drink a minimum of half your body weight in ounces of water daily. For example, someone weighing 180 pounds should aim to drink 90 ounces of water each day.
3. Reduce Inflammation by Sleeping Well
Do not underestimate the importance and impact of consistent, quality sleep. Lack of adequate sleep can contribute to and increase inflammation.
At Insight Wellness, we work with clients to support their health holistically. For many of our clients, this includes reducing inflammation throughout the body. We do this through a variety of methods/options, including thermal imaging, naturopathic care, and/or a 6 week anti-inflammatory program we offer. Many of our services can be done virtually, making our model of care an option for clients across the nation. If you’d like to learn more, visit our “get in touch” page here.