All About Inflammation

Hey there, how are you doing? See any good movies recently? I watched Aquaman the other day (because helloooooo, Jason Momoa!) and I’ve got to say it was really disappointing. The acting was way over the top, and the plot felt choppy. It reminded me of the Twilight movies, how it managed to have so many great names/talents, and yet be so mediocre. so I’m probably going to stick with Marvel, but at least I gave it a chance, right?

What is Inflammation?

So, let’s talk inflammation. Our bodies use inflammation to protect us from invaders: when you get a cut on your finger, a localized pro-inflammatory response help heal the tissue damage and protect you from infections. Then, once our bodies are well, anti-inflammatory responses take over so that our bodies can go back to normal. When things are working the way they should, inflammation is a powerful tool that keeps us healthy. Our problems start when our bodies are chronically inflamed because of stress, injuries, and nutrition deficiencies.

Chronic inflammation is when our bodies are constantly fighting what they see as “invaders”. Daily habits, environments, and diet choices have a direct affect on chronic inflammation; working 10+ hours a day in a high-stress environment, grabbing fast food daily because there’s no time to cook, or polishing off a bottle of wine every other day to unwind. Trans fats, alcohol, NSAIDS (aspirin), and steroids can all block the body’s ability to sent anti-inflammatory responses. When this happens, our bodies are still sending inflammatory responses to invaders and perceived threats (like chronic stress), but because the anti-inflammatory pathways are blocked, the anti-inflammatory response can’t do it’s job. Basically, chronic stress and perceived threats put our immune system is on high alert all the time, and diet and lifestyle blocks our bodies’ ability to calm.

If left un-managed, chronic inflammation can lead to a host of other problems; including heart disease, diabetes, pulmonary disease, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, and more. It’s incredibly important that our bodies’ pro and anti inflammatory pathways are clear and able to function properly to prevent these issues. The good news, is that we can help our bodies reduce or avoid chronic inflammation with a few key diet tweaks:

Tips to reduce inflammation and improve your health

Be super picky about your fats.

I’ve already said my piece about how important fat is for our health (you can read it here), and this is another reason why the type of fats that we eat is so critical. Trans fats and rancid, over processed oils can inhibit our body’s anti-inflammatory pathways. If you’re trying to reduce inflammation, it’s incredibly important to avoid all trans fats and over-processed oils. The most common offenders are:

  • Margarine (seriously, just stop with this nonsense)
  • Vegetable oils – corn, safflower, canola, cottonseed, etc. (they’re so highly processed that they’re rancid before they hit grocery store shelves)
  • Any packaged product that has “hydrogenated” oil on the ingredient list. Even if it says “0 trans fats”; that’s just sneaky marketing to make you think it’s a healthier choice.

Fats that you do want to incorporate into your diet are Saturated, Monounsaturated, and Polyunsaturated fats. These will help support your pro and anti inflammatory pathways, and keep them balanced.

Healthy fats described

Avoid Processed and Added Sugar

You may not realize it, but imbalances in your blood sugar does more than cause diabetes and weight gain. High amounts of sugar can trigger elevated systemic inflammation by increasing cytokines.  Cytokines are immune system messengers that increase inflammation in the body. So the easy solution to reduce our cytokines and ultimately reduce inflammation, is to to eat less sugar. This can be a touchy subject for some people, and rightly so, because everyone is unique and has varying needs, but we could all stand to reduce our sugar consumption. (read about why I eliminated processed sugar from my diet recently)

The easiest way to start is to eliminate the most processed and concentrated forms of sugar (i.e. packaged and pre-made desserts, snacks, and treats). If you must have sweetener, stick to very small amounts of natural sugar – organic maple syrup and raw honey, or just good old pieces of fruit.

You don’t necessarily need to remove all sugar from your life forever to avoid chronic inflammation; but it should be an occasional treat, not a daily staple. If you need a time frame, 30 days is a great start. Just remember that there’s no magic number, so if you get to day 31 and feel like you’re still healing, that’s perfectly normal.

Ready to get started? Download my Anti-Inflammatory Starter Guide! It will get you started by breaking down which foods can cause inflammation, and which can help reduce it.