Inflammation is a natural phenomenon that helps our body defenses become strong and aids in the healing process. While in the short term, certain types of inflammation can work to improve our immune system, chronic or prolonged inflammation can result in a number of health problems. That’s why it’s vital that you take care of it as soon as you can. Fortunately, you don’t necessarily need to rely on anti-inflammatory drugs that might have side effects. There are plenty of natural remedies that can help treat and even prevent inflammation before it becomes a more serious issue.
What Is Inflammation?
Generally speaking, inflammation is the body’s immune system’s response to an irritant; whether that’s bacteria, a virus or an external factor. Inflammation occurs when chemicals from your white blood cells enter your tissues or blood in order to protect your body from intruders. Your immune system’s response raises the flow of blood to that area of injury or infection. The increased number of white blood cells inside the joints can result in loss of cartilage, irritation, and swelling of the joint lining. In the short term, it causes symptoms like redness, warmth, and pain that we commonly associate with inflammation.
Types and Causes of Inflammation
There are two types of inflammation that you may have to deal with; acute inflammation and chronic inflammation.
Most often, when someone is talking about inflammation they are referring to acute inflammation which occurs in response to tissue injury. Symptoms of acute inflammation can include redness, heat, pain, swelling and loss of function such as difficulty moving. However, you can have acute inflammation and not even notice the symptoms. Generally, these symptoms can start within a few hours or days depending on the cause and last anywhere between a few days to a few weeks.
Multiple reasons can attribute to acute inflammation including:
- Being exposed to a substance like being stung by a bee.
- External or bodily injuries
- An infection
- Illnesses like acute appendicitis or bronchitis
- An ingrown toenail, sore throat, a cold, and wounds can also cause acute inflammation
Chronic inflammation can develop when the body’s response to an irritant continues, leaving us in a constant state of alert. Over time this process can result in significant negative side effects. Unlike acute inflammation, chronic inflammation isn’t beneficial to the body. In cases of chronic inflammation, the body’s immune system continues to release inflammatory chemicals even when there is nothing to fight off.
Factors that are believed to contribute to chronic inflammation include:
- Old age
- An unhealthy diet that is rich in fats and sugar
- Difficult sleeping patterns
Symptoms of chronic inflammation can range depending on the condition but they can last for months or even years. This type of inflammation has been linked to a number of serious conditions including arthritis, psoriasis, diabetes, allergies and others.
The Role of Diet in Reducing Inflammation
Your diet can play a major part in reducing inflammation. Luckily, mother Nature has given us plenty of natural food options that can cure or keep us away from inflammation. Basing your diet on foods that contain antioxidants and avoiding processed products can do wonders in reducing inflammation and improving your well-being.
Your metabolism naturally creates chemicals called radicals that can lead to inflammation if they are not taken care of. Antioxidants work to reduce the levels of these chemicals which helps deal with inflammation before it escalates to a bigger problem.
The rule of thumb for anti-inflammation eating habits is to eat plant foods, antioxidants, get more omega 3s, reduce red meat, and say no to non-organic foods. And make sure you are meeting your body’s requirements for vitamins, fiber and water. Vegetarian and low-carb diets have also been known to reduce inflammation.
Keep in mind that while certain food may help in dealing with inflammation, for more serious conditions or if you continue to experience systems over a period of time; it’s best to seek advice from a medical professional on what else can be done.
That said, let’s breakdown some of these options for reducing, preventing, or keeping away inflammation and what you should be considering adding to your diet.
Foods to Stay Away From
While knowing what food to eat can play an essential role in reducing inflammation it can also be important to be aware of which foods to stay away from. In general, these foods contain high levels of Omega-6 fatty acids, which have been known to increase inflammation. But before you cut out these fatty acids completely you should know that they do have their own benefits. The best way to maintain an anti-inflammatory diet is to have an appropriate ratio of Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
Here are a few examples of foods that are known to increase the risk of inflammation:
- Processed foods like red meat, snacks or oils
- Certain vegetable oils like corn or cottonseed oil
- Refined carbs and trans fats
- Fried foods
- Drinks and desserts high in sugar content
Common Foods That May Help Reduce Inflammation
Dark Chocolate and Cocoa
- Dark chocolate contains Flavanols that can have anti-inflammatory effects. Not only does it exhibit antioxidants that reduce inflammation but it has been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease. Look for dark chocolate with a minimum of 70% cocoa. Generally speaking, the more amount of cocoa, the more antioxidants the chocolate contains.
- Nuts like pecans contain high levels of antioxidants and can be a valuable source of healthy fats and minerals. They can also help raise antioxidant levels in the blood. However, they are also high in calories so try to eat them in moderation.
- Fatty fish are a natural source of proteins and omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel are common examples of fish that include these proteins. Fatty fish can help enhance your metabolism as well as reduce the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP).
- Chili pepper is available in a range of different options. It contains the chemical capsaicin which not only makes it hot but has an anti-inflammatory effect on your body. Any chili pepper, such as cayenne or jalapeno, is full of capsaicin. You can use it fresh or in powder form in your daily food dishes and desserts.
- Berries like raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Berries can also be a superb source of antioxidants, which may help reduce inflammation and boost your immunity.
Grapes and Cherries
- Grapes and cherries are rich in antioxidants like anthocyanin, which can be another means of dealing with inflammation. Grapes have also been known to potentially help reduce the risk of heart diseases, diabetes, obesity, and eye disorders.
- Dishing out broccoli on your dining table may help reduce heart diseases and cancer, as it is rich in antioxidants. Plus, it can be a great source for sulforaphane, another powerful antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory effects.
- Mushrooms exist around the globe and come in thousands of varieties. Although, only a few of these are edible or good for human consumption such as portobello mushrooms, truffles, and shiitake. Mushrooms are low in calories and super-rich in copper, selenium, and all B vitamins. They also contain phenols and other antioxidants that provide anti-inflammatory protection. In fact, some types of mushrooms like lion’s mane may help reduce obesity inflammation.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest fats you can eat. In addition to its potential as an anti-inflammatory, this oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, which provide a range of other health benefits.
- This ingredient comes raw from the bark of a cinnamon tree and mostly found in the Far East, Sub-Continent regions. Cinnamon is considered to potentially be an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-diabetic, antimicrobial, and anticancer.
Other Anti-inflammatory Ingredients You Can Try
Water and Baking soda
- According to a study published in the Journal of Immunology these ingredients can be helpful in reducing inflammation as well. Baking soda is easily available and can calm down the body’s autoimmune response. Try mixing a quarter teaspoon of baking soda with 8-12 oz of water. However, some studies suggest that ingesting baking soda regularly can potentially have side effects; so if you are trying it, it should only be used as more of a short-term solution for inflammation relief and not for more than 20-25 days.
- Turmeric contains curcumin that may help reduce inflammation and provides relief for joint pain. One of the benefits of turmeric is that it limits the production of cytokines, the molecules responsible for inflammation. It may also have benefits for dealing with arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, as well as some other inflammatory conditions.
- Ginger can help prevent the reproduction of inflammatory molecules like no other food can. Ginger is full of gingerol, a powerful anti-inflammatory ingredient that helps reduce muscle soreness and pain. Similar to turmeric, there is also some evidence that ginger may effectively limit cytokines in the body as well as other inflammatory enzymes. Research has even shown that ginger might offer a better therapeutic effect than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs when it comes to treating pain and inflammation.
- Recent studies suggest green tea is an effective anti-inflammatory liquid and may help in the treatment of arthritis. Green tea is well known for its potential to help fight against cardiovascular diseases as well as reduce digestive inflammation. Try sipping 3 or 4 cups of green tea every day to avoid inflammation.
- Parsley contains carnosol which can help relieve inflammation caused by arthritis according to a recent study.
White Willow Bark
- While there is not much research available yet, there is some evidence that white willow bark may also have properties that can be helpful in dealing with inflammation. These tree barks have been used as a treatment since the days of ancient Roman and Egypt. White willow bark can potentially offer similar effects to aspirin except without the potential side-effects. While it might be effective for mild or early stage inflammation you shouldn’t take more than 240 mg per day.
Maritime Pine Bark (Pycnogenol)
- Similar to White Willow Bark, Maritime Pine Bark has been around since ancient times and is known to be one of the most potent antioxidant compounds. It can potentially help in healing wounds, scurvy, and ulcers in addition to vascular inflammation. Its effect can be 50 to 100 times more effective than Vitamin E in offsetting free radicals in your body. However, there have reports of a few side effects so check with your doctor before trying it.
Other Natural Methods for Reducing Inflammation
In addition to improving your diet, there are other means of naturally protecting yourself from inflammation. Let’s explore some of the strategies you can add to your daily routine and their benefits:
Daily Exercise and Stress Management
Regularly exercising each day and practicing stress management techniques can also be effective in naturally preventing inflammation as well as other health risks. A number of studies have shown the benefits of exercise in reducing inflammation as well as helping conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Here are a few examples of what you can add to your daily routine:
- Yoga: Among benefits like helping reduce anxiety, regularly practicing yoga can help lower your risk of inflammation. What’s great about yoga is that you can practice it anywhere, even from the comfort of your home.
- Walking: Going for a walk every day can also be a great source of exercise. Try going outside for a brisk 20-minute walk and then continue to gradually increase the time up to an hour.
- Bodyweight Exercises: These exercises can be a good way to build body strength without putting extra stress on your joints. Such exercises are also great for slowing down inflammatory responses; especially in older adults. A few examples of Bodyweight Exercises you can try include squats, pushups, bridges, and cycling. Riding a bike is also a good option for people dealing with joint pain and arthritis.
- Cold Water Therapy: Taking a dip in cold water also referred to as ‘cold water immersion therapy’ has also shown promising results in dealing with inflammation and has a number of other health benefits.
Getting Enough Sleep
We all know how important having an appropriate sleep schedule can be for feeling better and your overall well-being but studies also show that getting a good night’s sleep can play a major role in reducing inflammation.
CBD Oils and Products
CBD or cannabidiol is a chemical compound that comes from the Cannabis sativa plant. Studies continue to suggest that CBD can be effective for dealing with joint swelling and pain. CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties may help relieve symptoms such as:
- Multiple sclerosis
- General pain
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Inflammatory conditions
- Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
- Cardiovascular diseases
CBD has also shown to potentially aid in other well known methods for reducing inflammation including faster muscle recovery, stress management and getting a better night’s sleep.
As with any supplement, it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor first, always read the instructions and make sure you are buying from a trusted source.
Inflammation, whether acute or chronic, can affect your quality of life and cause discomfort and pain but with a few dietary and lifestyle changes, it doesn’t necessarily have to. That said, as we touched on earlier, if your situation worsens or you don’t see any noticeable results you should seek additional help from a medical professional.
At Easy Day, we have seen first hand the impact CBD and positive lifestyle changes can have on our health and well-being. That’s why we have made it our mission to spread natural and wellness solutions that can benefit everyone. If you are ready to take the next step and start feeling your best we have a range of natural CBD products designed to help with inflammation and whatever challenges life throws at you for you to try.
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