Many of us have become so accustomed to conditions caused by inflammation in our bodies that we don’t even recognize the discomfort and ill feelings that are companions to being in a state of inflammation. Even I have lapsed into some bad dietary and lifestyle habits that have inflammation creeping back into my body lately and I admit, I’m not all that happy about it!
So… what is inflammation? Basically, it is how our bodies protect us from foreign microorganisms and substances that are not supposed to be in our bodies or are multiplying to levels that become dangerous. Most chronic inflammatory conditions and occur when our bodies lose the ability to recognize our own cells as good tenants and begin to attack them as unwelcome guests. You can read more about inflammation at http://www.webmd.com/arthritis/about-inflammation#1
Here are some common ailments caused by inflammation. Some of them may surprise you… I know I was surprised when I began researching inflammation and some of the health conditions I was challenged with.
High blood pressure ~ high cholesterol ~ diabetes ~ asthma ~ allergies ~ sinus infections ~ hives ~ skin conditions ~ psoriasis ~ endometriosis ~ PCOS ~ infertility ~ heartburn ~ GERD ~ bipolar disorder ~ migraines ~ depression ~ arthritis ~ joint pain ~ ADHD ~ thyroid ~ IBS ~ dysfunction ~ Lyme disease ~ fibromyalgia ~ chronic fatigue ~ lupus Crohn’s ~ leaky gut syndrome ~ leaky gut ~ diverticulitis ~ ulcerative colitis ~ multiple sclerosis ~ and many more…
What can we do?
The fact is, there is no magic pill or short-term answer. If you are prone to inflammation, you need to be proactive, diligent and have good mental endurance and dedication to your health and wellness. Things are NOT going to change overnight, after one week, and possibly not more than minimally after one month.
It. Takes. Time!
Do not despair, though! Here are some things you can do today to start yourself on that journey to less inflammation.
- Drink more water – no… soda, coffee, beer, energy drinks and juice do not count! Herbal tea? Sure! But start with at least four 8 ounce glasses of fresh, clean water a day and work up to at least 8 glasses. If you are exercising, working outside or recovering from some dietary indulgences, drink a little more! While it is possible to drink too much water, you would have to drink several gallons very quickly to truly harm yourself.
- Eat foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids – fishes such as salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel and herring… walnuts, pecans, and ground flaxseed are also good sources. While soy is also rich in Omega-3, many people are sensitive to soy and more and more research is showing soy can cause inflammation.
- Eat more antioxidant rich foods – embrace those fresh fruits and veggies! Go to your local farmers market and indulge in their bounty, making sure to choose a wide and colorful variety. Legumes, whole grains, and green tea, also fall into that category of being high in antioxidants, but also may contribute to inflammation, so pay attention to your body’s response when you eat these things and adjust accordingly.
- Take supplements – while it is always best to get your nutrition from good, organic whole foods, the fact is that sometimes the body needs a little boost. As a standard practice, make a habit of speaking to your physician, dietician or nutritionist, and pharmacist before taking ANY new supplement. There have been far too many people that have taken supplements, only to discover that they had a bad chemical response when taken with their current prescriptions or aggravate symptoms for another condition they are challenged with.
- Curcumin (found in turmeric) – I like to treat myself to “Golden or TurmericTea” each night to help me relax, get a good night of sleep, and soreness and tenderness. Recipes for this delightfully spicy cup of comfort can easily be found on the interwebs.
- Bromelain – found deliciously pre-packaged in pineapple, reduces bruising and swelling. Too much can upset the stomach and digestive system though, so start with a half a cup and eat more as your body tolerates.
- Melatonin – produced by the brain to help regulate sleep, which is integral to healing. Commercial melatonin is produced in laboratories and is sometimes used to help relieve pain for people battling chronic pain symptoms.
- Probiotics – Good bacteria the keep your digestion working well. Gut health is so important to overall health, so pay attention to what’s happening at the back end! Eat fermented foods such a sauerkraut, kimchi and yogurt. If you go the round of supplements, look for a product that has 15 billion microorganisms or more and has a wider sampling of at least four different types of critters in the formula.
- L-Glutamine – specifically helps your gut heal and thus, the rest of your body. I like to use a powder that I dissolve in water to make it easier to take.
- Vitamin D – With a reputation for supporting bone health, more and more research is showing that this vitamin is an integral part of auto-immune health and emotional stability. While the body does produce vitamin D naturally, the fact is that those of us in northern climates simply do not get enough sunlight to produce the levels needed for optimal health.
- Exercise – regular and gentle exercise are important to combating inflammation. Swimming, walking and yoga are all wonderfully gentle exercises. If you are not ready for that, start where you are… walk around the house… dance in your chair to your favorite music… park one spot further away from the store each day.
- Sleep – Good sleep is highly under-rated until you are deprived of it! Make changes in your lifestyle to promote better sleep habits: Unplug from technology a couple hours before bed. This includes your cell phone! Drink a full glass of water before bed. Take a warm bath or shower. Sleep in a cooler room. Turn off all the lights.
- Spiritual connection – What? Did you think we wouldn’t touch on this? We are the Web, after all! Meditation, journaling and spiritual connection are all found to contribute to good health and wellness. If you are feeling a little lost, lonely or disconnected, reach out to your Web family
Notice that we are focusing on the positive changes each of us can make to feel better. This is because it really does no good to belabor any “bad” habits we have. I prefer to pursue health and wellness with the mindset that we can “trade up” to something better and in doing so, leave less room for the things that negatively impact us. Think about who in our Web Family is also challenged by things on this list and then think about how we can support each other in our journey to taking proactive measures towards improving our overall health and wellness with positive accountability and loving support.
Choose happiness. Choose joy. Choose the good things. Always, choose love!
Submitted by Darcy “Ravija” Moore, Certified Health & Wellness Coach
p.s. As part of my love donation to the Web, I offer one-on-one wellness coaching to anyone in the Web family that asks. In return, please make a small donation of your choosing to the Web if you are able. Anyone that is willing to do the work, will not be turned away.
(Originally submitted for Web Notes June 2017 edition)