Have you ever felt joint or muscle aches?  Redness or rashes on your skin? Swelling in your hands, feet, or face?  Fatigued or inconsistent sleep? Consistent stomach aches or headaches?

These are all signs of inflammation in your body.  The symptoms can be mild and happen periodically or more severe and last for months or even years.  

How do we become inflamed?

Inflammation can happen quickly from an infection or injury.  These are often easier to identify since there is a specific time or event in which it begins.  The body is great at fighting to eliminate bacteria from an infection or repair injured muscles and bones.  This explains why you get swollen when you injure a muscle or sprain a joint, and also why your skin gets red around a cut.  This is part of your body’s response to heal itself. These symptoms typically go away with time and proper treatment.  

It is less common to identify inflammation that happens over time from things like smoking, obesity, alcohol, exposure to chemicals, food, or chronic stress because the symptoms don’t show up immediately or as severe at first.  

Managing chronic and long-term inflammation will be the focus of the rest of the article because many of these types result from lifestyle choices such as the household products we use, the environment we live in, and the food we eat every day.  

How can you reduce inflammation?

There is often not one single thing that creates inflammation in your body.  The same can be said for reducing it. There is not one thing that can completely reduce inflammation, but making changes over time will help you understand what triggers your body to become inflamed and ultimately what helps reduce it.  You will feel like a new person once you identify what triggers inflammation in your body and are able to eliminate those factors on a regular basis. You will also no longer want to use or eat the things that cause inflammation in your body because inflammation can happen even after just one use.  

The first and often most impactful step to reduce inflammation is to acknowledge that you’re having symptoms of inflammation and commit to finding solutions to improve your health.  

One of the biggest contributors of inflammation is the food which we eat.  Changing your eating habits may help reduce, if not eliminate, the symptoms of inflammation you are experiencing. 

But, where do you start?

Knowing which foods trigger inflammation and which have anti-inflammatory properties is a great first step.  

Some of these foods may be obvious to avoid, while others may not be:

-Sugar – sweets, cakes, cookies, soda

Fried and fast foods – seems pretty obvious, right?

Butter, whole milk, and cheese – I know you were hoping to not see cheese in this section, but the saturated fat and casein in dairy are known to cause inflammation

High fat meat (like red meat) and highly processed meats can be inflammatory

-Gluten – wheat, barley, and rye can cause inflammation issues, even for people who don’t have celiac disease

Artificial sweeteners – reducing sugar is recommended, but sugar substitutes are a no-no as well

Reducing these foods are good for a number of health-related reasons, but you will notice your digestion improve, joints feel better, and probably lose a few pounds.  

There are foods which contain antioxidants and adaptogens that reduce inflammation and other associated diseases.  Increasing these foods will help your body adapt to stress and protect your cells

-Fruits and vegetables – add more color to the fruits and vegetables you eat on a regular basis.  Dark leafy greens, broccoli, and cabbage are great vegetables to add to your diet. Cherries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, oranges also contain natural antioxidants and polyphenols that help your body combat inflammation.  

Beans – they’re high in fiber, loaded with antioxidants and also can help boost your protein intake.  

Nuts – nuts have healthy fats that help reduce inflammation.  Nuts are higher in calories, so stick to 1-2 servings per day.  

Fish – fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which helps fight inflammation.  Salmon, tuna, and sardines are great sources.  

-Herbs and spices – not only do they add flavor to your meals without adding calories, they contain antioxidants to help your body fight off inflammation.  Turmeric and garlic contain compounds (circumin and diallyl disulfide) that limit the effects of inflammation.  

Consistently loading up on these anti-inflammatory foods can help eliminate many of the symptoms you are experiencing.  Many of these suggestions can be found in nutrition programs like the anti-inflammatory diet and other programs aimed at reducing inflammation and boosting your immune system.  

In addition to introducing foods that can help reduce inflammation, there are supplements that  can help fill in the gaps and boost the other changes you’re implementing. Circumin (which is found in the spice turmeric), fish oil (especially containing EAP and DHA), ginger, and resveritrol (antioxidant found in grapes) are all supplements that contain anti-inflammatory properties.  

In addition to dietary changes, doing things like reducing or eliminating the regular use of cigarettes and alcohol consumption are two ways to make healthy changes that reduces inflammation.  

Also, using products that are natural or containing fewer chemicals for your household cleaners, detergents, deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste, and other personal care items can reduce the level of toxins in your body as well and ultimately reduce inflammation.  

As you can see, there are many ways inflammation can be created and reduced.  It may take some trial and error to figure out what is causing inflammation in your body, but the improvement in the way you feel will be worth the effort to create healthy changes.  

Biography: Thank you to our gust poster Paul Fisher!

Paul Fisher is a health and wellness consultant who is passionate about helping people have a healthy mind and healthy body.  He believes that good nutrition sets the foundation for living our best lives. Paul specializes in helping people lose weight, reduce stress, increase energy, and increase athletic performance.  Paul helps people elevate their lives with a focus on consistent and convenient options to create healthy results. He works in-person and virtually with individual clients as well as with businesses and health practices.