Natural Ways to Cool Down Inflammation from an ND
What exactly is inflammation? It’s a normal biological response in the body that reacts to protect or heal certain tissues. Basically, blood vessels become more permeable to allow nutrients and white blood cells to get to the “damage” site and solve the problem.
The four main signs of inflammation that we can see are:
- Warmth of the skin
However, stubbing your toe isn’t the only way to inflame the body; in fact, we can also have inflammation occur on the inside too. This can be from poor food choices, excessive stress, or an autoimmune condition. Unfortunately, common health conditions such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease can all contribute to inflammation– so let’s work on how to reduce it naturally!
Is Inflammation Always Bad?
The short answer is no! Inflammation is defined as an inherently protective response—your body is always trying to help, not hurt you. In short bursts, the inflammatory response comes & goes relatively quickly—this is normal and healthy. However, if we keep asking our bodies to react to every food, environmental trigger or stress, inflammation will start to become more continuous—and and this is where we start to see its damaging effects.
Top Signs You May Be Inflamed
- Difficulty losing weight
- Generalized joint or muscle pain
- Feeling fatigued, especially after eating or mild exercise
- Regular headaches
- You regularly consume alcohol and/or processed foods
How to Reduce Inflammation Naturally
To be honest, we can all use a bit of an anti-inflammatory boost in our wellness routines. The good news is, inflammation in many cases is treatable with lifestyle, diet & a few nutrients. Depending on how long you have been suffering from your health concerns, inflammation can be greatly reduced in as little as a few weeks. Consider the following recommendations to get you started.
There is a multitude of scientific research that supports anti-inflammatory foods for overall health & well-being. In order to see the greatest results, try to eliminate the most problematic foods while incorporating the healthiest choices at every meal.
Inflammatory foods to avoid:
- Dairy products
- Conventionally raised meat/poultry
- Processed sugar
- Fried foods
- Vegetable oils (soybean, canola, safflower)
- Fresh herbs
- Green leafy vegetables
- Olive oil
Changing your diet can take some time, especially if you’re changing the entire family’s plan! As you continue to switch to a less inflammatory diet, consider boosting your results with added anti-inflammatory nutrients. Be patient and give them at least 2-3 months to work (although you’ll likely notice benefit sooner).
These important fats are needed to counteract the negative effects of too many omega-6s in our diets (from vegetable oils, packaged foods, etc). Fish oil is the greatest source of omega-3s, so aiming for a balanced liquid or encapsulated formula will provide the most benefit when taken with food. Always choose the highest-quality omega-3s as they are a fragile molecule that can go rancid easily.
As much as I love the whole spice turmeric, curcumin is an extract of the yellow spice that packs a powerful punch in much smaller doses. Curcumin acts similarly to NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen) to stop pain signals in the body. Ideally, taking the recommended dosage all at once will produce better results.
Most of us have heard of this term, but what do antioxidants actually do? Think of them as the “cleaners” after inflammation has occurred. They literally ‘soak up’ any damaged molecules floating around in the blood or tissues and help the body to heal faster—not to mention, they protect our cell’s DNA to combat the aging process! Vitamin C is perhaps one of the most well-known antioxidants; however, a combination product containing others like alpha lipoic acid, resveratrol or green tea extract (EGCG) are a great addition to any health regime.
As you can see, reducing inflammation can be as simple as a few diet swaps & an added supplement (or two)! What’s your go-to anti-inflammatory food or nutrient?
Dr. Laura Belus is a Naturopathic Doctor that focuses on detoxification and hormone balance for weight loss, stress management, and greater energy. She believes in making simple, yet powerful, changes to diet & lifestyle habits that create lasting results. She practices in Mississauga and Toronto.