Source: Food Matters
Nearly everyone could improve their health by reducing the levels of inflammation in their body. Inflammation is one of the major forces behind aging and disease, yet most of us are unknowingly fueling it through the foods we eat and the lifestyle we live. Poor diet choices, a stressful lifestyle, pollution and lack of exercise can all add up and result in chronic inflammation, pain and disease over an extended period.
The reason we want to keep inflammation low is due to the potential havoc it can cause in our body. Inflammation is associated with most diseases, including diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular, neurogenic, arthritis and macular degeneration, inflammation reduction should be a priority for most people. While inflammation may not directly cause a disease such as obesity, it is a by-product of becoming obese which may then fuel other diseases like arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.
In some situations, such as tissue repair from injury or fighting infection, low levels of temporary inflammation is a perfectly natural and healthy response to aiding our recovery. Chronic inflammation or low-grade inflammation slowly causing cell damage on a daily basis is what we want to avoid.
Now that we have reasons to keep inflammation down, let’s look at five easy lifestyle adjustments we can make to significantly reduce inflammation and improve our health.
#1 Reduce Sugar
Reducing sugar, I believe is the number way most people can reduce inflammation. For most people, it might seem impossible to completely reduce refined sugar from one’s diet but there are many ways to reduce it while still enjoying the occasional treat.
Look to fill yourself up with a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner to help lower the urge to snack, as this is where most of us slip unhealthy food into their lives. Reducing sodas, sweets, cakes and general junk food is a good place to start. If you need a sweet drink look towards stevia sweetened waters or tea, trade the milk chocolate for dark chocolate, or swap the biscuits for some nuts.
#2 Reduce processed and fast foods
Processed foods and fast food can contain an abundance of inflammation-causing substances. The trans-fats that most fast food is cooked in has been associated with pro-inflammatory effects, which in processed foods is often labelled with the word “hydrogenized”. More often than not we don’t know exactly which chemicals go into our fast food to make the food taste so good or what preservatives have been used to make it last so long. Check the back of packets for words you struggle to pronounce, and there’s a good chance your body doesn’t want it. Thankfully there are an increasing number of healthy cafes and fast food options that we can now choose from.
#3 Add More Antioxidant-Rich Foods into Your Diet
The more antioxidant rich foods you eat, the more ammo your body has to fight inflammation-causing free radicals. We can create some of our antioxidants but heavily rely on dietary intake to overcome the excess free radicals caused by environmental toxins and stress.
There is no better place to start than fresh, organic fruit and vegetables. Antioxidants from fruit and vegetables are in a bioavailable form our body knows how to use and process.
To compliment the fruit and vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids from fish, nuts and avocados is another great natural anti-inflammatory.
#4 Exercise for at Least 20 Minutes a Day
Simply 20 minutes of exercise a day can have amazing benefits on your health. By stimulating anti-inflammatory cytokines, some exercise every day can help protect you against chronic disease associated with low-grade inflammation.
As we know, sugar is extremely inflammatory. Incorporating resistance training or high-intensity exercise can reduce blood sugar levels as our body starts to pull glucose into our muscles for energy, further reducing the inflammation strain on your body.
#5 Relax and Get Good Sleep
Relaxing and getting a proper night sleep can actually help reduce inflammation. Relaxation promotes the reduction in pro-inflammatory cytokines and helps keep inflammatory stress hormones down. Sleeping gives our body it’s best chance to recover from inflammation while falling into an anti-inflammatory state.
Just a few easy changes to our lifestyle can switch the balance between inflammation-causing free radicals and antioxidants. By reducing sugar, fast food and processed food, we are creating less work for antioxidants to reduce free radicals. By going one step further and adding antioxidant promoting activities into your life such as more exercise, colourful vegetable.