We all have experienced pain in our bodies at some point. Pain usually appears when there is inflammation. Inflammation is an important part of the body’s immune response. It is the way our bodies heal itself. Without inflammation, infections would never heal. Inflammation becomes a problem when it is chronic.
Imagine the inflammation as our body’s personal army to protect against invaders or injury. Their job is to fight the battle (against infections and germs) and come back to base. When the soldiers lose the signal on when to stop fighting, it leads to chronic inflammation. Chronic Inflammation is when the body stays in the inflamed state even after the “threat” is gone”. Most common cause of chronic inflammation is the food we eat and environmental toxins we are exposed to. Our body’s immune system doesn’t recognize this “stuff,” so it tries to get rid of it by fighting it.
Recent research from well-known sources such as the Harvard School of Public Health has found that many illnesses are directly related to inflammation in the body including heart disease and stroke, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and stomach or intestinal problems. When there is inflammation, there is a pain. Did you know Anti-inflammatory medicines are most widely taken medicine in the US?
If you believe that you are suffering from chronic inflammation – here are three easy steps you can take to reduce pain and inflammation:
- Practice “Clean” eating: Try adding more natural, raw food in your diet. Buy organic whenever possible. The best way to reduce inflammation is to just eat real foods. They are foods that bypass tinkering by a food chemist and are eaten very close to the way they grew on the farm. Slowly eliminate/reduce processed and packaged foods from your diet. A fiber-rich diet helps reduce inflammation by supplying naturally occurring anti-inflammatory phytonutrients found in fruits and vegetables.
- Follow the 4-S diet: The easiest way to remember the key anti-inflammatory foods that will help keep you young and active is the Four S’s. Salads, Smoothies Spices, and Seafood.
Salads and Smoothies are natural anti-inflammatories because they are from plants. The antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables gives them their rich color and make them anti-inflammatory. Antioxidants are natural medicines. The National Cancer Society says we should eat 9 – 13 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
Spices contain high levels of antioxidants and immune boosting nutrients. Ginger and Turmeric which are heavily used in Indian cooking are one of the best spices to reduce pain and inflammation. Ginger inhibits production of the free radical that causes inflammation and pain. Turmeric’s benefits are largely because of curcumin, a potent antioxidant that dramatically reduces inflammation. The bioavailability of curcumin is highly improved if taken with black pepper so make sure to spice up your food with turmeric, ginger and black pepper.
Seafood, especially cold water fish, contains omega 3 oils which are the most helpful anti-inflammatory nutrients you can eat. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis — conditions that often are triggered by chronic inflammation. If you cannot eat fish for any reason, consider taking a good quality fish oil supplement to get the benefits of Omega-3.
- Exercise: What type of exercise should you do? The BEST exercise is the one you will do! You do it because you enjoy it!
There are lots of fun ways to move. You can take up a new sport such as ballroom dancing or hiking or just do walking, yoga, running..whatever you enjoy doing!! Besides movement being good for your muscles, it’s good for your mind. New movements actually build new cerebral pathways.
Make sure you incorporate these three components into your exercise routine:
Strength training: At one time it was believed that losing muscle was a natural part of aging, but studies now show that older people can maintain muscle with the same amount of strength training as younger folks.
Endurance. Endurance exercises increase your breathing and heart rate and include exercises like walking, swimming, and dancing.
Flexibility: Flexibility exercises like stretching, yoga, and Pilates, loosen and lengthen our muscles. As we age, muscles not only become weaker, they become tighter and shorter. Orthopedists have found that people who have increased flexibility are less likely to suffer from arthritis and joint problems.
By following these simple guidelines and slowly making lifestyle changes, you can definitely reduce chronic inflammation and lead a healthy, pain-free life.