You’ve been to your doctor’s office and all of your blood work has come back within normal range. But you know something is “off.” You’re experiencing fatigue, sleep issues, mood swings, weight gain, breakouts, belly bloat, and brain fog. You have no energy. This can’t be normal!
You’re right – it’s not. You are chronically inflamed.
Inflammation is a natural and necessary action in our body. When we are injured, or have an infection, inflammatory markers act quickly to repair or attack threatening germs.
How does this impact your body? In acute situations, like when you close the door on your finger, your body will respond with swelling, heat, altered function, redness and pain. Also known by the acronym S.H.A.R.P. However, when the inflammation is internal and chronic (or long-term), your body cannot handle being in a constant state of emergency.
Chronic inflammation ends up impacting your immune system and other physiological systems that protect your body. More and more studies are showing how chronic inflammation can cause lasting damage to your heart and other organs, possibly leading to disease and cancer. We are also learning how inflammation in the brain may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease as scientists have proven that immune cells can and do infiltrate the brain during times of stress. And who isn’t stressed these days?
We’re even learning how obesity triggers a cascade of inflammation in the body that leads to metabolic conditions such as insulin resistance or pre-diabetes. Everything we experience in our external and internal environments can impact our health and vitality. And it seems that inflammation has its hand in every disease. Although necessary in acute situations, chronic inflammation can have long-term damage on the body. Here are five foods that you can ADD to your diet to help you lower inflammation and keep your body feeling great.
1 – Omega 3 Foods
Omega 3 is an essential fat that our body needs to support so many different functions. Studies are showing that the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 has the most impact towards reducing inflammation in the body. Make sure to add more ground flax, salmon, sardines, chia seeds and walnuts to your diet. If possible, keep your ground flax in the freezer to prevent oxidation.
2 – Cucumber
Cucumbers are a treasure of goodness. This undiagnosed superfood is highly anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and super hydrating. Since they are high in plant lignans, they are also beneficial to our digestive tract. Even better is that they help bind and convert the hormones that cause estrogen-related cancers.
3 – Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens, such as chard, kale, spinach, and collard greens, are naturally alkalizing and high in antioxidants. These powerful plants ambush inflammation and optimize our body functions on a cellular level.
4 – Pineapple
Fresh, frozen or canned pineapple is rich in a protein-digesting enzyme called bromelain. Bromelain helps fight inflammation by disabling the activation of the inflammatory process in the body, making it helpful in reducing swelling, pain, arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. Plus, it’s super high in vitamin C! Just beware of the sugar content in canned fruit.
5 – Turmeric
Turmeric is also getting a lot of attention for its health benefits and powers against inflammation and cancer. In fact, it’s active ingredient – curcumin – is such a powerful anti-inflammatory that it matches the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs. All without side effects! It needs to be activated with olive oil and pepper to work synergistically in the body.
Of course, there are always foods to avoid too! Stay away from empty carbohydrates like white bread, candy and fruit juice along with saturated fats, salty foods, trans fats, MSG, and possibly gluten and nightshade veggies if you want to keep your inflammation in check.
The nightshade family of vegetables can aggravate arthritis in some people. They are: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, cayenne and tobacco.
As always, I encourage you to eat real, natural and whole foods. If you’re feeling low in energy and your joints feel achy when you get up on the morning, these small changes could help you to start feeling vibrant again.