Reduce Inflammation Naturally - With Food
Looking to reduce inflammation naturally, without the use of NSAIDS? Luckily for you, there are some simple diet and lifestyle changes you can make to help your body fight off inflammation without medication. Let’s go over why you might want to reduce inflammation, and what you can do about it.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a natural process that your body goes through in response to triggers. There are two types of inflammation: acute (short-term) inflammation, and chronic inflammation.
Acute inflammation usually comes as a response to an injury or illness, and can be beneficial to your body’s healing process. It’s the swelling that accompanies, for example, a cut finger or the heat and redness after you’ve stubbed your toe. Inflammation is your body’s immune response activating to help speed up the healing process and protect the area from further damage.
Not all inflammation is beneficial, however. Chronic inflammation is more likely internal. It can occur when reactive inflammation goes on for too long, and can put your organs and cells under stress. This type of long-term internal inflammation has been linked to several diseases, such as diabetes, or even cancer. Additionally, it can cause pain and fatigue, and generally interfere with your quality of life.
Can I Reduce Inflammation Naturally?
While there are many medications, both over the counter and prescription, that can help combat inflammation, this might not be an ideal solution for everyone. NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications) aren’t recommended for people who have heart, stomach, liver, or kidney problems. Also, while these medications temporarily treat the symptoms of inflammation and pain, they only do so temporarily, and those symptoms return once the medication has worn off.
If you’re looking for ways to reduce inflammation without the use of NSAIDs, there are a number of diet and lifestyle changes you can make that help your body relieve inflammation naturally. Long-term changes can lead to long-term results, and for many people, may relieve the need to use medication to control their inflammation altogether.
An anti-inflammatory diet consists of two factors: Reducing the amount of foods that can cause or worsen chronic inflammation, and increasing the amount of foods that naturally fight it.
Decrease Inflammation-Causing Foods
The bad news: The standard American diet is full of foods that can cause, and worsen, inflammation. The good news? Eliminating or limiting these foods can lead to a healthier lifestyle overall.
What kinds of foods increase inflammation?
Refined carbs, like white bread and white pasta
Heavily processed foods, such as processed meats like hotdogs, and prepackaged snack foods
Excessive red meat
Foods high in added sugars, like desserts and baked goods
Trans fats, so anything made with partially hydrogenated oils, which is most deep-fried foods
Excessive alcohol consumption
If you’re looking to make changes to your diet to help decrease inflammation, limiting (or elmininating altogether) these foods is a great place to start.
It’s important to note that while some foods on this list, such as red meat and alcohol, are linked to inflammation when consumed in excess, you may not need to cut them out altogether. Small amounts of red wine consumed daily may have antioxidant effects, and red meat contains many nutrients that are harder to find in other foods. Consuming these in smaller amounts, rather than eliminating them from your diet, may be more beneficial to your health.
Foods that Fight Inflammation
In addition to limiting inflammatory foods from your diet, there are a number of foods you can incorporate that will actually help your body fight off inflammation.
Naturist-dense whole foods with antioxidants can help reduce inflammation naturally - as well as the pain and fatigue that often accompany it.
Look for foods like:
Fatty fish, like salmon or mackerel
Olive oil, which contains healthy fats
Dark leafy greens, like spinach, kale, and collard greens
Fruit, especially berries, cherries, and oranges
Nuts like almonds or peanuts
Vegetables high in Vitamin C, especially tomatoes and bell peppers
Spices like ginger and turmeric
The Mediterranean diet, with its high emphasis on healthy fats, whole foods, fish and few simple carbs, is considered by doctors as one of the best diets for reducing inflammation and heart health. Additionally, some foods - like turmeric and ginger - have been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory effects all on their own. Studies have shown both of these spices, which come from the same plant family, can be as effective as NSAIDS at reducing inflammation and pain when taken in larger doses. While you may not get these clinical results just by using them to flavour your food, both can be consumed in teas or supplements to maximize their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant potential.
Other Anti-Inflammatory Methods
In addition to eating an anti-inflammatory diet, there are other lifestyle changes you can make that will help your body fight off chronic inflammation:
Get Enough Sleep
Studies show that not getting enough sleep at night can lead to increased inflammation and put your body under more stress than it needs. While one restless night isn’t going to destroy your health, sleep deprivation over time can have damaging effects. If you struggle to get a full 8 hours a night, make sure you’re practicing good sleep hygiene - limit caffeine in the evening hours, set a good sleep schedule, and keep screen use at night to a minimum.
A largely sedentary lifestyle is one of the risk factors for chronic inflammation - as well as a whole host of other illnesses.
We’re not saying you have to start training for a marathon! But making sure you get some exercise every day - even just a brisk walk outside - can help reduce inflammation while having a multitude of other health benefits as well.
Following the legalization of cannabis in North America, a flurry of research is being done to assess the potential health benefits of cannabidiol, or CBD. CBD isn’t psychoactive - so it doesn’t alter your mental state, making it safe to use throughout your day.
Many studies now are showing that CBD has powerful anti-inflammatory potential, with minimal or no side effects.
CBD can be consumed in several different ways, including being incorporated into foods. If you’re interested in learning how to make your own CBD gummies (and even including other anti-inflammatory ingredients, like ginger) check out our guide: How to Make Your Own CBD Gummies.