What does inflammation mean and why does it matter?
Inflammation is an essential process that occurs in the body to fight off infection and pathogens, to support wound healing and immune function .
So why reduce inflammation I hear you ask?
Because, whilst acute inflammation can help your body fight illnesses, chronic inflammation is actually linked to an increased risk of a number of diseases and health problems [1,2]. These include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, obesity and mental health disorders to name a few [1,2]. In fact - more and more research is connecting almost all chronic health problems with increased inflammation.
What causes inflammation?
Inflammation should be caused mostly by infectious agents and pathogens. Unfortunately, in today's world, a number of other factors contribute to chronic levels of inflammation in most of us.
Examples of factors which increase inflammation are:
1. Pollution 
2. Stress 
3. Lack of sleep 
4. Excess weight 
5. Dysbiotic or commensal gut bacteria 
6. High sugar, high fat diets 
7. Diets low in plant foods (e.g. fruits and vegetables) and fibre [1, 9]
What you can do:
Below you will find 8 practical changes you can make to help your body manage inflammation:
Check in throughout the day to make sure your belly is rising and falling as you breathe
Start your day with 2 minutes of deep breathing in bed just after your alarm rings. End your day with 2 minutes of deep breathing before you go to sleep. Lightly rest your palms on your belly to feel it rise and fall.
Research shows that deep and mindful breathing can reduce inflammation .
Manage your blood sugar
Make sure your meals and snacks contain a source of complex carbohydrates, protein and helpful fats to help your body regulate blood sugar (read more about this in my FREE e-book "Quick, healthy and delicious" available here).
Make sure your diet contains ample sources of magnesium like spinach, pumpkin seeds, lima beans, tuna, almonds, dark chocolate, avocados, hemp seeds and bananas.
Poor blood sugar regulation is linked with higher levels of inflammation . Magnesium is a key nutrient to support the body in regulating blood sugar .
Supplement Vitamin D
Speak to your GP to have your vitamin D status tested, if it is low, consider supplementing a liposomal vitamin D3 (like this one) - particularly between October and March. Remember to always speak to a medical health care practitioner about supplementing anything to check for possible risks and interactions with any medication or other supplements you may be taking.
Research shows that vitamin D is a key nutrient in helping the body modulate its immune response .
Assess your environment; are you regularly exposed to toxins or hormone dysregulators? These may be in the form of smoking, drinking alcohol, certain medications (e.g. contraception), air pollution (for example if you cycle in London), storing your food in plastic containers, drinking from plastic bottles, regularly using hand sanitiser, using non-organic cosmetics, personal care products and perfume, etc. Is there a way you cut down on any one of these? What could you do?
Fill your house with air-filtering plants like spider plants or peace lilies.
Research shows that exposure to pollution and toxins increases inflammation [1, 3, 13].
Try to eat at least one fresh, plant food of each colour of the rainbow each day (download my FREE rainbow checklist here.)
Practice adding a fruit or vegetable to each meal and snack you eat (keep the peel on!)
Research shows that fibre intake can reduce inflammation, whilst low fibre diets increase inflammation [1,9].
Get outside at least once a day, try to notice your surroundings - the colours in people's gardens, what people are wearing, what you hear, the sky. Practice walking at least 10 minutes on your way to and from work, find the green areas near your home and workplace and plan your weekends so you explore beautiful areas where you live.
Practice cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness techniques to manage stress - why not have a look at my 7-day online plan to help get you started. Click here for more information.
Chronic stress is associated with chronic inflammation, which can lead to a vicious cycle .
Turn off screens (mobile, laptop, tablet, TV), dim overhead lights and stop working at least one hour before bed, to help your body wind down and get into a resting mode. Try reading, knitting, colouring, listening to music or chatting to someone instead.
Have a routine - go to bed and get up around the same time every day (regardless of whether it is the weekend). Avoid naps - these make it harder to sleep at night.
Sleep deprivation is associated with increased levels of inflammation .
Go for a brief 2-10 minute walk after meals
Change posture regularly if you sit for long periods of time - stretch, fidget, go to get a glass of water, take that phone call while going for a walk, suggest 'walk and talk' meetings, get a standing desk
Sedentary lifestyles (which most of us lead nowadays) are one of the key risk factors for inflammation [2,5].
I hope you found some useful tips in this article! I would love to hear your thoughts - what lifestyle practices help you manage inflammation? Which of these tips are you most likely to put into practice? Comment below or connect with me on Instagram @efias_kitchen.
If you would like personalised support in making diet and lifestyle changes for optimal health why not have a look at my therapy packages here.
Grace and Peace,
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