Diet and lifestyle changes can help prevent chronic inflammation
Today I’m sharing 3 tips to prevent and deal with inflammation. Inflammation is a necessary part of the body’s immune response, but too much inflammation can lead to disease. Chronic inflammation may contribute to diabetes, obesity, celiac disease, arthritis, fibromyalgia, or bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Most of our common ailments are caused by our bodies’ inflammatory response.
A. Diet Rich in Plant Foods
Several years ago I began having problems with both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. After reading articles and books on various approaches to a healthy diet, my diet began to evolve. Originally, it was suggested that I try a Paleo diet, but I had been on a high protein diet much of my adult life, and I wanted to see how changing that would affect me. I searched for more information – online and in the library. I read a book by Dr. Weil and read about an anti-inflammatory diet on his website. I started following Forks Over Knives on Facebook and explored their website. ForksOverKnives.com has over 400 tasty recipes, expert tips, and tools to help you transition to the life-saving, whole-foods, plant-based diet.
From Forks Over Knives:
“A diet high in animal-based and highly processed foods makes people sick and overweight. But many of these sicknesses can be prevented, halted, and often reversed by eating a whole-food, plant-based diet. There is medical proof. There is living proof. We have experienced it ourselves. We have seen the smiles to prove it.”
On television, I watched Dr. Oz, heard many experts describing a healthy diet with low fat, low salt and fresh vegetables and fruits, and read articles and recipes on his web site. “Heart disease, diabetes, skin irritation, aches and pains – all of these things may be caused by out-of-control inflammation. While stress, lack of exercise and genetics can all cause chronic inflammation, a steady diet of sugars and processed food can do the same.”
I have always loved vegetables and salads, but I began to consciously add more fresh produce to my diet. Many of the common health issues in modern life are caused by a fast and easy food mentality. We are all busy and look for short cuts and hacks to simplify life. Buying processed and cooked food may save time but our diets become filled with chemicals, bad fats, and too much salt. I began to buy organic and to increase my vegetable meals. I discovered the weekly local farmers’ market, Tasty Tuesday, and became a once a week regular. I searched for organic bargains and developed a weekly plan of shopping stops to make my money go farther. Trying to limit my chemical exposure, I try to only eat out about once a week – you have no control over ingredients or preparation when you dine out. If possible, I try to limit my intake of meat to once a day with a goal of having at least two days a week meat free, but have not been successful in the last few months. Lately, I’ve been eating more meat especially with the holidays, but I am renewing my goal to eat less red meat for 2020.
- olive oil.
- green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards.
- nuts like almonds and walnuts.
- fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines.
- fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges.
My diet was changed several years ago to increase my intake of leafy greens. I drank a green smoothie for breakfast most mornings, but I realized in December, that I haven’t had one for a while. 2020 I am going back to a green smoothie for breakfast. Salads are a great lunch and I’m always experimenting to avoid boredom with simple lettuce salads. Garlicky Greens and Beans Fast, Healthy & Simple Meal is the result of search for a fast, hot meal. I hope to eat more varied salads to help reach my goal of decreasing my inflammation.
For more information:
The long-term health benefits of physical exercise are numerous; they include reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, improving metabolism and weight control, as well as generally strengthening the heart, muscles, and bones. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, it helps to lower blood pressure, prevent diabetes, and prevent some forms of cancer. New research also indicates that 20 minutes of regular exercise can reduce inflammation. Exercise strengthens the immune system.
Most of us like some activities more than others. Do not be intimidated at the idea of “exercising”. According to researcher, Suzi Hong: “Our study shows a workout session does not actually have to be intense to have anti-inflammatory effects. Twenty minutes to half an hour of moderate exercise, including fast walking, appears to be sufficient.”
If you have access to a pool during the winter, swimming is a great exercise that is also fun. Research shows that moderate swimming can reduce inflammation and joint pain of arthritis. A water workout is a great, low-impact activity that keeps the body moving.
Another exercise that is easy on joints is bicycling. When the weather warms up, get out the bike and go for a ride. The health benefits of regular cycling include: increased cardiovascular fitness, increased muscle strength and flexibility, improved joint mobility, and decreased stress levels.
Yoga involves lots of stretching, balance, increased flexibility, increased muscle strength and tone, and improved respiration, energy and vitality.
Find activities that you enjoy that get you moving. Join a walking or biking group, add a yoga or water aerobics class, and take the family for a walk in the park. You’ll be happier and your body will thank you. I’m going back to my walking regimen and hope to report progress in a few months.
C. Manage Stress
If you feel stressed out much of the time, the physical result is an inflammatory response from your body. Chronic stress contributes to inflammation. If you can’t relax at night to get a good night’s sleep, this continues the cycle with increased stress. Check out my Self Care: Tips To Help You Sleep Better for suggestions to help you relax and sleep.
What can you do to manage stress? Use meditation, yoga, biofeedback, guided imagery or some other method to help you manage stress throughout the day. Change your lifestyle:
- Exercise on a regular basis.
- Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Be sure to get enough sleep; seven to eight hours a night is optimal for most people.
- Minimize your alcohol and caffeine intake.
- Avoid tobacco.
- Spend time relaxing with friends and family.
- Express your thoughts and emotions by writing in a journal.
- Consider meditation and deep breathing exercises.
Develop an evening ritual that assists you to unwind and relax. I enjoy a warm bath and find that gratitude journaling helps me to process and let go of the day. I try to remember even when life is horrible that I still have gifts of family, friends, and love that I cherish. You can’t stop bad things from happening. You can only try to work on your response and your perception of the crisis. Check out Want To Stress Less? for more information.
With all this in mind, you may ask “has there been a difference in my life”? Yes. I still have arthritis – there is no cure, but when I get off my diet or eat out too much, feel stressed, and don’t exercise, I feel a negative difference. I am still learning, often from my own mistakes, but I am continuing on my journey of discovery. I’m hoping this information proves helpful in your life too.
If you like this post, you might like:
Orange Turmeric Boost for Your Immune System
Citrus-Berry Baby Greens Salad
Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie
The Anti-Inflammation Cookbook: The Delicious Way to Reduce Inflammation & Stay Healthy
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14 thoughts to “3 Tips To Deal With Inflammation”
Wonderful tips all, Carol. And very good back-up information. I’m so glad nuts are on the list because they are one of my favorites!
nuts are wonderful!
Thanks for the tips, Carol! I have osteoarthritis from old injuries and general wear and tear. Trying to establish a regular workout routine has been a challenge, along with meal prep. Due to my erratic client schedule, convenience wins out a bit too often. 😛 That said, I do a lot of walking (with the dogs) and prefer seafood or chicken to red meat. Sadly, a nut allergy prevents me from consuming those, but the rest is part of our normal diet. P.S. The pear and pomegranate salad looks delicious. Must try it! 🙂
Thanks for a well-thought out post, Carol. I’m going to try the orange tumeric drink this morning. I have a ginger syrup that I can substitute.
Do you think that you may be eating meat more because of some nutrients meat gives that you aren’t getting otherwise? About once a month, I fry/roast a slice of ribeye for us to share. I feel so good afterwards.
No I just love meat. It’s as simple as that. Over Christmas I baked a leg of lamb and later a roast and then again a baked chicken when my family visited. Yum, yum! I was very good for several years and then I got bored eating all the smoothies and salads. So I ate other things not as good. Now I’m trying to find a middle ground with veggies and meat so I have variety.
This was wonderful and informative. I have asthma and it appears to have gotten worse over the years. I have recently began eating a more plant based diet, choosing to eat meat one day a week and so far that meat has been chicken/poultry and fish. So far I do not feel deprived. Well, except I went without sugar for over 5 weeks but this week I plunged head-first into a bag of Kisses with almonds. I just need to get back on that horse. My plan is to find a Yoga class and to begin going back to the gym next month. Baby-steps…right? This article was right on time for me. TFS Perhaps we can check in on each other from time to time as encouragement.
I think being support buddies is a great idea. As I said earlier in the comments, I love meat. I’m trying really hard to get back to eating it more sparingly but it is hard. Sounds like your 2020 planning has even covered your diet and exercise. You are amazing my friend!
Very well researched post! I found out several years ago that I have celiacs. I do the above plus I go further. I, of course, don’t eat gluten, or soy, and eat limited dairy. I also only eat organic fruits and veggies for items that I eat the skin. I make my own bone broth which helps health the gut, is so much better than what I can buy in the store and I can control what is in it.
Thanks again for this well thought out article!
I also no longer eat dairy (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). If I listed all of my dietary restrictions due to allergies or IBS, I lose a lot. Most folks would never even want to read about all my restrictions. You are so good to make your own bone broth. I make it occasionally but it really takes time. I don’t eat wheat, soy, nuts, coconut, onions, peppers, etc. My favorite bread is an oatmeal bread made by a Tampa bakery. Really good toasted. I take a great probiotic which really helps my tummy. You must have trouble eating out when traveling. I know I do. Thanks for coming by!
Good tips. Have you seen Forks Over Knives on Netflix? Thanks so much for linking up with me at my #UnlimitedMonthlyLinkParty 9 where I comment on and share on social media if share option is available, open February 1 to 26. My themed party 11 for Handcrafted Jewelry is open February 15 to 25 if you have any appropriate posts.
This is great information. I’m always on the look out for new resources for support and guidance focusing on wellness. With all the advertising, fast foods, and nutritionless foods on the market it’s so easy to get off track. Thanks for all the reminders@
It is a struggle for a lot of us. I have to remind myself too!
Thank you for this post and all the great information! You will be the featured post on this weeks Friday at the fire staton link up!
thanks for the feature!